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January 4, 2013Football season ended in Carson on December 15, but there are still post-season awards to hand out. In a year with no clear standouts, which athlete took home Player of the Year honors? Also see who won Offensive and Defensive honors as well as coach of the year.
Player of the Year: Warren Miles Long RB/LB Logan
A Northwestern running back commit since the summer, Long was the leader of the Colts in 2012 as they made the North Coast Section Division I finals. He finished with 1,700 yards rushing with 24 total touchdowns while making a defensive impact at linebacker. Long tallied 86 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions.
"He's got Division I offers on both sides of the ball," James Logan coach George Zuber told Phil Jensen of the Oakland Tribune. "There are not many guys that have that ability on both sides of the ball. He has a phenomenal ability to make players miss, yet he will power right through you also. You see one or the other usually. He is a phenomenal outside linebacker. He's got that center of gravity that prevents him from being pushed back. ... To me, he's the best outside linebacker I've seen in a very long time."
The last Division I signee for the Colts was Kalafitoni Pole (Washington State) in the class of 2010. The last 3-star prospect was Rashad Evans (Fresno State) in the class of 2008. He is also the first East Bay player to win the NCP Player of the Year award since De La Salle's Terron Ward in 2009.
Other postseason awards garnered by Long are the East Bay Player of the Year by the Bay Area News Group and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Logan finished the year 12-2 and at No. 11 in the NCP Top 20 rankings.
Offensive Player of the Year: Jake Browning QB Folsom
The recent success of Folsom quarterbacks has been well documented, but the work of this sophomore in his first year starting was still surprising. Standing at 6-foot-2, Browning threw for 5,248 yards with 63 touchdowns and 16 interceptions as Folsom went 14-1 and played in the inaugural NorCal Open Division Regional Bowl game. The 5,248 yards is a single season state record according to the state record book.
The proof of Browning's talent was evident early in the year as Folsom co-head coach Kris Richardson said after a win over San Ramon Valley, "He just keeps executing and he's just going to keep getting better and that's a scary to think about because he's playing his butt off right now as a sophomore."
Browning was named Offensive Player of the Year by the Sacramento Bee.
Defensive Player of the Year: Michael Hutchings LB De La Salle
Following in a long line of high level linebackers to come out of the Spartans' program, Hutchings finished with 113 tackles in the middle of a defense which was dominating from start to finish in 2012. Led by a strong defensive effort, De La Salle captured its fourth straight CIF Open Division state title.
""He became the unquestioned leader of our defense," De La Salle defensive coordinator Terry Eidson said to Stephanie Hammon of the Contra Costa Times. "He was the one guy we could least afford to lose."
In addition to being the East Bay Defensive Player of the Year by the Bay Area News Group, Hutchings is ranked No. 71 in the country by Rivals.com and No. 7 overall for outside linebackers. He is a USC commit and will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday in San Antonio.
It is the second straight year a Spartan linebacker has won this award. Class of 2012 grad Michael Barton, now at Cal, won it in 2011.
Coach of the Year: Ernie Cooper Granite Bay
Granite Bay lost its first two games 72-19, but only a one point blemish to Pittsburg marked its resume the rest of the way as Granite Bay won its first state title beating Long Beach Poly. The Grizzlies finished 13-3, including a dominating run through the perennially tough Sac-Joaquin Section Division I bracket. It was the second straight section crown for Cooper and the Grizzlies and just the third state champion from the Sacramento area in the state bowl era.
Cooper is one of the best offensive play callers in the region and has assembled a well-rounded and long standing staff at Granite Bay, which should be among the top five teams in Northern California to start next season.