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Black Hole: Marysville LB named Defensive MVP
He stands just 5-foot-9, weighs in at a mere 170 pounds and his left ring finger has been cut off at the tip.
Don't let those lack of numbers fool you, though. Marysville High's Brad Black is as tough as they come and a hard-nosed football player through and through.
And in 2010, the Indians' senior inside linebacker showed he has the instincts for the game, a nose for the football and the will to bring down the ballcarrier no matter who — or what — stood in his way.
"He has that tenacity — that never-give-up and never-give-in attitude," Marysville coach Cullen Meyer said. "He proved that you can overcome a lack of size with ability and effort."
And boy did he ever.
Black was named the Golden Empire League Defensive Player of the Year by spearheading the Indians' defense with an average of 11 tackles per game.
In just four GEL contests, he recorded seven sacks, forced four fumbles and recovered one. And while his 51 solo tackles and 70 assists may not have been the highest marks in the area, Black's sheer tenacity and ability to consistantly make plays in the backfield earned him the honor of being named the Appeal-Democrat's All-Area Defensive Player of the Year.
"This season meant a lot to me," Black said. "I wish we could have went a little further in the playoffs, but we had a good group with a lot of talent."
Black grew up on the outskirts of Marysville in the hamlet of Hallwood, just down the road from 2008 A-D defensive MVP James Chandless. It was in Hallwood where he developed a love for dirt-bike riding, yet a freak accident riding his motorcycle at age 12 led to him getting the tip of his finger amputated.
Needless to say, the kid is tough and it certainly showed up on the football field during his senior year as the Indians posted two shutouts and finished 8-4 while advancing to the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.
Black led the way by posting double-digits tackles in every game but the first two of the season — the only two in which he didn't start on the inside.
"He started out at outside linebacker, but after the Sutter game we switched him to the inside and that's when he really took over," Meyer said. "He just has a natural instict to play the position and made tackles all over the field with angles and effort."
Black's biggest, and favorite, game came on Oct. 15 against arch-rival Lindhurst when he totaled six solo tackles, a sack and forced three fumbles to lead the Indians to a 38-0 victory.
"We didn't call a blitz on a few plays and he would just read the guards and make the tackle behind the line of scrimmage," Meyer said. "I was like 'holy cow.'"
For Black, it was all about hard work.
"My best trait was being able to read the play and move my feet," said Black, who worked out hard in the offseason with first-teamers Michael Barabin and Cole Hannum. "Coach (Francisco) Garcia coached me last year and stayed with me. He had a lot of confidence in me and pushed me through it."
The individual honors were nice, but for Black the success of the team is what really mattered.
"Coach wouldn't let us put our last names on our jerseys and when he told us we were pretty upset," Black said. "But it turned out to be a good thing and it made sense. Football is about the team and I couldn't have done it without my teammates."
Forcing turnovers and slowing down an offensive attack starts up front with the defesnive line.
Linbackers and defensive backs would have difficulty making plays on the ball if it weren't for the boys up front putting pressure on the quarterback, plugging holes in the run game and causing havoc.
He was undersized at nose guard, yet Yuba City's Frank Franco caused havoc with 51⁄2 sacks. Franco went up against guys twice his size and created chaos.
The anchor of Sutter's defensive line, nose guard Phillip Brod averaged eight tackles per game for the Huskies and had five sacks.
At 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, Wheatland's Trevor Crain was a terror at defensive end with five tackles per game for the BVL-champion Pirates.
One of the deepest positions in the Mid-Valley, our five linebackers were all standout defenders for their respective teams.
Though he gained notoriety in the GEL for his fierce running style at fullback, sophomore Cole Hannum was a key part to Cullen Meyer's defense at linebacker with Michael Barabin.
Hannum was all-GEL and averaged 9.5 tackles per game with 50 solo tackles.
Yuba City had all the weapons on offense, but the biggest standout on the other side of the ball was senior linebacker Hank Kirby.
Kirby was the only Honker to surpass 100 tackles, ending the season with 128. A first team All-TCC selection, Kirby had 89 solo tackles.
Senior Troy Thomason was a shining light for River Valley on defense. Thomason was named to the All-TCC First Team with 87 total tackles, averaging 9.7 per game.
The leader of the Mid-Valley's stingiest defense, Live Oak's Anthony Alvarado was the cornerstone with 10 tackles per game and 106 total.
It was a banner year for Wheatland and credit goes to the Pirates' defense, led by a solid linebacking corps.
Junior Tyler Larcom headed the group with 8.2 tackles per game, nine sacks and two forced fumbles. He was an All-BVL first team member.
The ball-hawks in the defensive secondary can change the momentum of a game with one play. With speed, hands and hard hits, these four defensive backs get the nod for our All-Area team.
Williams' Tony Salcedo had a nose for the football on both sides of the ball.
Not only was he an 11-touchdown reception receiver, on defense he had a streak of seven consecutive games with an interception. He also had 54 tackles.
An All-Northern Section selection, Live Oak's Dylan Williams teamed with Alvarado to make the Lions' defense nearly impenetrable all season.
Williams had six interceptions and 45 tackles.
Cameron Brown isn't one of those defensive backs that shies away from contact — it's more of a Ronnie Lott approach.
The senior All-Northern Section DB had 97 tackles this season for the Huskies.
Raul Lozano did all that was asked of him for the Yuba City Honkers.
He split time at quarterback, running back and safety for John Ithurburn and amassed 763 yards of total offense and nine touchdowns.
At safety he was selected to the first team All-TCC team with 74 tackles, 58 of which were solo.
That third all-too-important aspect of a football team that is vastly underrated, yet so important, is the special teams unit.
Games are won and lost by the guys who set up field position, take kicks back to the house and put the ball through the uprights.
Jose Rodriguez hadn't played a down of football until this season.
When an errant football found its way to the soccer pitch where Rodriguez was playing with a friend, he was more than happy to return the ball — by kicking 60 yards.
This display earned him a spot on the football team and coach Dan McDonald was the benefactor.
Rodriguez booted five field goals this season, leading all Mid-Valley kickers. His .850 percentage on PATs was also tops in the area.
When a team is struggling on offense, a punter is the biggest asset to put the defense in a favorable position. Lindhurst's Stephen Paxton executed this better than any punter in the area.
Paxton netted 33 yards per kick and placed six balls inside the 20-yard line — both statistics led the area.
With the best moves of any back in the area, Wheatland's LaCarlis Moore consistently put the Pirates' prolific offense in favorable field position on kickoff returns. He averaged 23 yards per return.
As the change-of-pace back for Derick Seward, Moore was an All-BVL first team pick with 1,002 yards rushing and nine touchdowns.
Kaleb Allen was not only a dangerous return man, but once Tony Montes went down he became Dan Johnson's go-to guy at tailback.
Allen tallied almost 32 yards per kick return, including two for scores. He also rushed for 948 yards and seven scores.