Congratulations to the following additional Cal-Hi Sports State Players of the Year for the 2012 football season:
Juniors: John “JuJu” Smith
(Long Beach Poly, Long Beach)
It’s surprising that since 1928 there’s only been one previous Long Beach Poly selection in this category and that was quarterback Chris Lewis in 1997.
This choice wasn’t easy, either. Smith and quarterback Robert Webber of Corona Centennial were the two juniors who were considered finalists for Mr. Football. Plus, the super-talented Adoree’ Jackson from Serra of Gardena had to be considered as well.
Smith had the advantage of being a standout on both sides of the ball. In starring for the Jackrabbits in their improbable march to the CIF Southern Section Pac-Five Division title, the 6-foot, 180-pound junior led the team in interceptions with six and was in on 51 tackles. On offense, Smith caught 49 passes for 752 yards and nine scores. He also averaged 16 yards on punt returns with one touchdown.
Jackson, named as the South Bay Daily Breeze Player of the Year and our own State Sophomore Athlete of the Year for the 2011-12 school year, may be the state’s top college prospect for the Class of 2014 and certainly dazzled in several head-turning moments in big games. But Smith should be among the nation’s top college prospects next year, too, and his numbers on both offense and defense were just frankly a lot better than Jackson’s.
Jake Browning (Folsom)
It’s hard not to keep honoring Folsom quarterbacks as they continue to put up huge numbers. Browning, however, is the program’s first sophomore standout at the position and before all is said and done he could put several career state records into the stratosphere.
Originally not expected to begin the season as the starting signal caller, the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder made the most of his chances as he quickly got his name known on a national level with 699 yards and 10 touchdown passes in his first varsity start against Woodcreek of Roseville.
On the year, Browning passed for 5,248 yards, which set a single season state record. With his 63 touchdown passes, the Bulldogs also went 13-1 and reached the CIF NorCal Open Division Regional Bowl game where they lost to De La Salle. He has already been named by the Sacramento Bee as its Offensive Player of the Year and he was a finalist for Mr. Football State Player of the Year.
Pierre Cormier (Madison, San Diego)
It would have been interesting if the voters for this year’s Player of the Year in the CIF San Diego Section had met after the CIF state bowl games and not before. If they had, Cormier’s big-time performance in leading Madison past Marin Catholic of Kentfield 38-35 in the Division III contest might have been the difference.
Cormier scored on a memorable 79-yard run for the Warhawks late in the fourth quarter for the winning points. He finished with 24 carries for 252 yards and three touchdowns. Earlier in the postseason, he led Madison past St. Augustine of San Diego in the section final with 21 carries for 161 yards and three scores.
For the season, the University of Arizona-bound standout ranked among the state leaders with 2,233 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns. In the team’s only loss, which came against Valhalla of El Cajon, Cormier also put his name into the state record book by scoring on a 99-yard run.
Small Schools: Jared Goff
(Marin Catholic, Kentfield)
This was a very difficult pick between Goff and record-breaking running back Jacob Taylor from Rim of the World (Lake Arrowhead). Although Taylor became just the second player in state history to rush for 4,000 yards or more for a single-season, Goff’s credentials as a national recruit and his team playing a more difficult schedule was the difference.
Leading the Wildcats to a CIF Division III state bowl game appearance, this Cal-bound signal caller passed for 3,692 yards and 40 touchdowns while also rushing for 332 yards and eight touchdowns. For his high school career, Goff finished with 7,066 yards and 93 touchdowns as the Wildcats went 14-2 this season and 39-4 overall in his three seasons as their starting quarterback.
In Marin Catholic’s 38-35 loss to Madison of San Diego in the Division III state bowl game, he passed for 262 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for a score. He recently played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and the San Francisco Chronicle named him as its Metro Player of the Year (even instead of our own Mr. Football honoree, Michael Hutchings).
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