MR. FOOTBALL: LANDRI LANDS A BIG ONE

De La Salle of Concord lineman Derek Landri makes history in topping strong field of candidates to be named CalHiSports.com Mr. Football State Player of the Year. Landri also selected as State Lineman of the Year. Still to come on Saturday: complete all-state teams.

Who says media members, coaches and other observers don't pay attention to what's going on in the trenches during big football games? They sure did at the titanic De La Salle of Concord vs. Poly of Long Beach game back on Oct. 6 and everyone came away raving about De La Salle senior Derek Landri.

The 6-4, 285-pounder was given the task of grappling with 6-7, 305-pound Manuel Wright when he was on offense and then turning around on going at it with 6-7, 280-pound Winston Justice when he was on defense. Those who were there all agree: Landri won both battles and established himself as not only the top lineman in the state for the season but among the best in state history.

"Just to be able to finish as many snaps as he did against those two outstanding players was remarkable," said De La Salle head coach Bob Ladouceur. "It was just a phenomenal performance."

Terry Betterton of the Fresno Bee, a longtime prep writer from the Central Valley who watched Landri in De La Salle's first game and also watched several other leading Mr. Football State Player of the Year candidates (like St. Bonaventure's Lorenzo Booker and Dos Palos' Kenny James), said he would vote for Landri as the top overall player and added, "He's the best I've seen since Don Mosbar of Mt. Whitney (Visalia) in 1978."

Several other media members contacted for their votes (none were from Concord or the S.F. Bay Area) also offered similar praise of Landri's efforts. "Best I've ever seen," said one. "You can't go wrong with him," said another.

Landri was voted by his teammates as their MVP and that in and of itself was quite as honor as three-year starting quarterback Matt Gutierrez is regarded as one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation. With Landri and Gutierrez leading the way, De La Salle finished 12-0 and will be the Student Sports FAB 50 national champion for the third time in the last four years. Final national rankings will be released next week. Landri started in 37 straight games since his sophomore year and helped the Spartans stretch their all-time national win streak record to 125 games.

On offense, Landri sprung teammates Maurice Drew, Alijah Bradley and Nate Kenion for consistent big gains. On defense, he wound up with 55 solo tackles, 75 assisted tackles and 9 1/2 sacks despite missing a lot of action as Ladouceur pulled his starters early in one-sided games.

"I've seen great offensive linemen and great defensive linemen, but there's never been a guy like Derek who dominated on both sides of the ball," said De La Salle athletic director and defensive coordinator Terry Eidson. "And he didn't relax after the Poly game. He brought it every game and every play. He takes a lot of pride in being that type of lineman."

Landri, who has said he still plans to go to Notre Dame despite the recent coaching uncertainties, is the first lineman to be named Mr. Football State Player of the Year since Anaheim Esperanza's Travis Kirschke in 1992. But Kirschke didn't have the type of competition for the top honor as Landri did.

Four others also were seriously considered -- runningbacks Booker and James, quarterback Matt Moore (Newhall Hart) and runningback Hershel Dennis (Long Beach Poly). Landri's prowess as a two-way lineman proved to be pivotal as Booker and Dennis were almost exclusively offensive players.

There also seemed to be a split among longtime Southern California writers and observers about whether Booker or Dennis should be the top player in that region. While Booker was named Gatorade National Player of the Year earlier this week, Dennis' strong games vs. De La Salle and Edison earned him just as much support in the region as Booker garnered. And being chosen for a national honor (by a public relations firm in Chicago) shouldn't be the basis for a statewide honor chosen by people who in essence watched all of the top candidates actually play. The CalHiSports.com State Player of the Year pick frequently has gone against national honors from Parade Magazine, USA Today and others since most of those selections also are determined before the seasons are even complete.

Note: This isn't to suggest that Lorenzo Booker isn't deserving of any and all honors that come his way. The criteria used for the two honors, Gatorade vs. CalHiSports, was just a little different. Booker may even receive many more national honors, and if he does that's terrific.

For the first time ever, this year's CalHiSports State Player of the Year package also includes a top honor for the various positions. One player has been named among quarterbacks, runningbacks, receivers, linemen, linebackers and defensive backs. Those breakdowns enabled us to spread around top honors more than ever before.

The complete list of this year's CalHiSports.com State Football Players of the Year can be found on a separate post on this web site.

Here is a complete list of Mr. Football State Players of the Year going back more than 100 years.

CALHISPORTS MR. FOOTBALL

STATE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

(Alltime list back to 1890; selections prior to 1975 made through research by CalHiSports founder Nelson Tennis)

2001 — Derek Landri, Concord De La Salle OL-DL

2000 — Tyler Ebell, Ventura RB

1999 — D. J. Williams, Concord De La Salle RB-LB

1998 — Kyle Boller, Newhall Hart QB

1997 — DeShaun Foster, Tustin RB

1996 — Rod Perry, Santa Ana Mater Dei WR-DB

1995 — Chris Claiborne, Riverside J.W. North RB-LB

1994 — Daylon McCutcheon, La Puente Bishop Amat HB-DB

1993 — Keith Smith, Newbury Park QB

1992 — Travis Kirschke, Anaheim Esperanza DT

1991 — Amani Toomer, Concord De La Salle WR

1990 — Napoleon Kaufman, Lompoc HB

1989 — Ryan Hancock, Cupertino Monta Vista QB

1988 — Tommie Smith, Lancaster Antelope Valley HB-DB

1987 — Bret Johnson, El Toro, QB

1986 — Russell White, Encino Crespi HB (Soph.)

1985 — Terry Rodgers, National City Sweetwater HB

1984 — Aaron Emanuel, Quartz Hill HB

1983 — Ryan Knight, Riverside Rubidoux HB

1982 — John Paye, Atherton Menlo QB

1981 — Kevin Willhite, Rancho Cordova HB

1980 — Michael Alo, Wilmington Banning FB

1979 — Kerwin Bell, Huntington Beach Edison HB

1978 — John Elway, Granada Hills QB

1977 — Marcus Allen, San Diego Lincoln QB

1976 — Freeman McNeil, Wilmington Banning HB

1975 — Charles White, San Fernando FB

1974 — Myron White, Santa Ana Valley HB

1973 — Frank Manumaluena, Wilmington Banning LB

1972 — Wally Henry, San Diego Lincoln HB

1971 — John Sciarra, La Puente Bishop Amat QB

1970 — Pat Haden, La Puente Bishop Amat QB

1969 — James McAlister, Pasadena Blair FB

1968 — Jesse Freitas, San Mateo Serra, QB

1967 — Calvin Jones, S.F. Balboa, HB (Jr.)

1966 — Mickey Cureton, Compton Centennial HB

1965 — Greg Jones, South San Francisco HB

1964 — George Buehler, Whittier LB

1963 — Tim Rossovich, Mtn. View St. Francis LB

1962 — Steve Grady, L.A. Loyola HB

1961 — Mike Garrett, L.A. Roosevelt HB

1960 — Kent Nance, Madera HB

1959 — Willie Brown, Long Beach Poly HB

1958 — Daryle Lamonica, Clovis QB

1957 — Jim Josephson, San Jose Bellarmine FB

1956 — Randy Meadows, Downey HB

1955 — Mickey Flynn, Anaheim HB (Jr.)

1954 — Dick Bass, Vallejo HB

1953 — C.R. Roberts, Oceanside FB

1952 — Ronnie Knox, Santa Monica QB

1951 — Marty Keough, Pomona HB

1950 — Charley Powell, San Diego E

1949 — Paul Larson, Turlock HB

1948 — Johnny Olszewski, Long Beach St. Anthony FB

1947 — Hugh McElhenny, L.A. Washington FB

1946 — Al Pollard, L.A. Loyola HB

1945 — Hall Haynes, Pasadena HB

1944 — Jackie Jensen, Oakland HB

1943 — Don Burnside, North Sacramento Grant QB

1942 — Glenn Davis, La Verne Bonita QB

1941 — Billy Agnew, Piedmont HB

1940 — Tommy Fears, L.A. Manual Arts E

1939 — Johnny Petrovich, Alhambra QB

1938 — Jim Jurkovich, Fresno FB

1937 — Frankie Albert, Glendale QB

1936 — Mike Klotovich, S.F. Mission HB

1935 — Kenny Washington, L.A. Lincoln QB

1934 — Doyle Nave, L.A. Manual Arts HB

1933 — Vic Bottari, Vallejo QB

1932 — Nello "Flash" Falaschi, San Jose Bellarmine HB

1931 — Larry Lutz, Santa Ana T

1930 — Charles "Chili" Bertoli, Berkeley HB

1929 — Irvine "Cotton" Warburton, San Diego QB (Jr.)

1928 — Orv Mohler, Alhambra QB

1927 — Gus Shaver, Covina HB

1926 — Erny Pinckert, San Bernardino FB

1925 — Francis Tappaan, Los Angeles T

1924 — Ted Beckett, Oroville QB

1923 — Morley Drury, Long Beach Poly HB

1922 — Ted Shipkey, Fullerton E

1921 — Jimmy Dixon, Berkeley HB

1920 — Talma "Tut" Imlay, Salinas HB

1919 — Jim Lawson, Long Beach Poly E (Jr.)

1918 — Roy "Bullet" Baker, LB Poly, QB

1917 — Charlie "Boots" Erb, L.A. Manual Arts E

1916 — Harold "Brick" Muller, San Diego E (Soph.)

1915 — George "Tuffy" Conn, Pasadena HB

1914 — Frank Kirksey, Palo Alto Rugby

1913 — Mickey Forbes, Berkeley Boone's Academy Rugby

1912 — Mickey Forbes, Berkeley Rugby (Jr.)

1911 — Charlie Austin, Berkeley Rugby

1910 — Bert Reisling, Palo Alto Rugby

1909 — Charley Kiser, Alameda FB

1908 — Charley Kiser, Alameda HB (Jr.)

1907 — Stan Mitchell, Los Angeles HB

1906 — Stan Mitchell, Los Angeles HB (Jr.)

1905 — John Garibaldi, S.F. Poly HB

1904 — Cedric Cerf, S.F. Lowell HB

1903 — Mead Hamilton, S.F. Lowell FB

1902 — George Middleton, S.F. Lowell HB

1901 — A.Vosburg, S.F. Lowell HB

1900 — Paul Tarpey, Palo Alto HB

1899 — Bobby Sherman, Belmont Academy HB

1898 — H.T. Roberts, Belmont Academy HB

1897 — Warren "Locomotive" Smith, Burlingame Hoitt's FB

1896 — Buck Henion, San Mateo St. Mattew's G

1895 — James Whipple, Centerville Washington HB

1894 — Pete Kaarsberg, San Mateo St. Matthew's FB

1893 — Bert Oliver, Oakland G

1892 — Wilford "Wolf" Ransome, Oakland HB

1891 — Wilford "Wolf" Ransome, Oakland HB (Jr.)

1890 — Ray Sherman, Oakland Hopkins Academy HB


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