St. Bonaventure of Ventura running back-receiver blessed with unique athleticism earns highest statewide prep football honor. He's the CalHiSports.com Mr. Football State Player of the Year. It's the only statewide selection that has more than 100 years of research behind it. Runnerup Kyle Wright of Danville Monte Vista named CalHiSports.com State Quarterback of the Year.

It's too bad the description of an athlete as a freak has become a cliche. That's certainly one of the first words that come to mind whenever anybody watched senior standout Whitney Lewis play this season for the St. Bonaventure High of Ventura football team.

A 6-2, 228-pounder with speed in the 40-yard dash measured consistently at 4.4 seconds, Lewis has the coordination, vision, strength and durability to play any position on a football field. At St. Bonaventure in 2002, due to the graduation of All-American running back Lorenzo Booker, that meant double duty as a running back and receiver.

Research on the topic is not complete, but Lewis may have become the first player in state history to rush for 1,000 yards and pile up more than 1,000 yards in receiving in the same season. As a runner, Lewis carried 109 times for 1,059 yards and 23 touchdowns. As a pass catcher, he had 65 receptions for 1,235 yards and 16 scores. Lewis averaged one TD for every 4.5 touches on offense and was second in the state in scoring with 42 overall TDs and 268 points.

Some college recruiting analysts rank Lewis as the top overall prospect in the nation this year. He was No. 3 overall in the preseason Hot 100 that appeared in the Student Sports/Sporting News High School Football annual last summer. The final four schools he's considering are Florida State (where Booker went), Miami, Texas and USC.

In his final game, Lewis was a one-man gang for the Seraphs in their 40-14 triumph over Westlake of Westlake Village in the CIF Southern Section Div. IV championship. He finished with 359 offensive yards and scored five TDs. As a runner in that game, Lewis carried nine times for 192 yards and three TDs. He added seven receptions for 167 yards and two TDs.

It was the fourth straight section title for St. Bonaventure and Lewis' big numbers came even though the program stepped up from Div. XI to Div. IV this season. The team's only loss in its last 56 games was to nationally-ranked Hart of Newhall in the second game this season.

It's ironic that Lewis gained the Mr. Football State Player of the Year honor a year after Booker did not. It just goes to show how the parameters of each selection process are different. Despite career state bests in rushing and scoring, Booker was hindered by the perception of St. Bonaventure playing a weaker schedule plus the fact he had to deal with another Southern California running back, Long Beach Poly's Hershel Dennis, who had just as much support as a state player of the year pick. With those two splitting the Southern California consensus, the top honor instead went to dominant lineman Derek Landri of Concord De La Salle, who had a signature game in a much watched showdown vs. Dennis' team. Lewis did not have a similar situation this year as he was a much stronger choice by everyone as the player of the year from Southern California.

The primary competition for Lewis on the statewide level came from quarterback Kyle Wright from Monte Vista of Danville. Wright was pretty much picked by everyone in the San Francisco Bay Area as that region's player of the year, and with good reason. The 6-3, 195-pounder led Monte Vista to a 13-0 record by completing 166 of 280 passes for 2,827 yards. He had 37 touchdown passes and just four interceptions. Mustang head coach Craig Bergman added that of the four interceptions, two bounced off receiver's hands and none were off of incorrect reads. Wright also rushed for more than 300 yards (second-highest on the team) and scored five times, including two on bursts of more than 40 yards.

It's hard to say what the difference between Lewis and Wright was, just a feeling among those we polled and those on our staff that Lewis was just a slightly more exceptional talent. Wright still receives a statewide honor as the CalHiSports.com State Quarterback of the Year.

Lewis also becomes the second State Player of the Year from Ventura County in three years, following Tyler Ebell of Ventura High for 2000. If Booker has been chosen last year, that would be three in a row from Ventura County. Previously to Ebell, the last Ventura County pick was quarterback Keith Smith of Newbury Park in 1993, who was the first from that county to be the statewide honoree.



(All-time list)

(Selections prior to 1975 done retroactively through research by Cal-Hi Sports founder Nelson Tennis)

2002 -- Whitney Lewis (St. Bonaventure, Ventura) WR-RB

2001 -- Derek Landri (De La Salle, Concord) OL-DL

2000 -- Tyler Ebell (Ventura) RB

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

1998 -- Kyle Boller (Hart, Newhall) QB

1997 -- DeShaun Foster (Tustin) RB

1996 -- Rod Perry (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) WR-DB

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

1994 -- Daylon McCutcheon (Bishop Amat, La Puente) RB-DB

1993 -- Keith Smith (Newbury Park) QB

1992 -- Travis Kirschke (Esperanza, Anaheim) OL-DL

1991 -- Amani Toomer (De La Salle, Concord) WR

1990 -- Napoleon Kaufman (Lompoc) RB

1989 -- Ryan Hancock (Monta Vista, Cupertino) QB

1988 -- Tommie Smith (Antelope Valley, Lancaster) RB-DB

1987 -- Bret Johnson (El Toro) QB

1986 -- Russell White (Crespi, Encino) RB (Soph.)

1985 -- Terry Rodgers (Sweetwater, National City) RB

1984 -- Aaron Emanuel (Quartz Hill) RB

1983 -- Ryan Knight (Rubidoux, Riverside) RB

1982 -- John Paye (Menlo School, Atherton) QB

1981 -- Kevin Willhite (Cordova, Rancho Cordova) RB

1980 -- Michael Alo (Banning, Wilmington) FB

1979 -- Kerwin Bell (Edison, Huntington Beach) RB

1978 -- John Elway (Granada Hills) QB

1977 -- Marcus Allen (Lincoln, San Diego) QB

1976 -- Freeman McNeil (Banning, Wilmington) RB

1975 -- Charles White (San Fernando) RB

1974 -- Myron White (Valley, Santa Ana) RB

1973 -- Frank Manumaluena (Banning, Wilmington) LB

1972 -- Wally Henry (Lincoln, San Diego) RB

1971 -- John Sciarra (Bishop Amat, La Puente) QB

1970 -- Pat Haden (Bishop Amat, La Puente) QB

1969 -- James McAlister (Blair, Pasadena) RB

1968 -- Jesse Freitas (Serra, San Mateo) QB

1967 -- Calvin Jones (Balboa, San Francisco) RB-DB (Jr.)

1966 -- Mickey Cureton (Centennial, Compton) RB

1965 -- Greg Jones (South San Francisco) RB

1964 -- George Buehler (Whittier) LB

1963 -- Tim Rossovich (St. Francis, Mountain View) RB-LB

1962 -- Steve Grady (Loyola, Los Angeles) RB

1961 -- Mike Garrett (Roosevelt, Los Angeles) RB

1960 -- Kent Nance (Madera) RB

1959 -- Willie Brown (Poly, Long Beach) RB

1958 -- Daryle Lamonica (Clovis) QB

1957 -- Jim Josephson (Bellarmine, San Jose) FB

1956 -- Randy Meadows (Downey) RB

1955 -- Mickey Flynn (Anaheim) RB (Jr.)

1954 -- Dick Bass (Vallejo) RB

1953 -- C.R. Roberts (Oceanside) RB

1952 -- Ronnie Knox (Santa Monica) QB

1951 -- Marty Keough (Pomona) RB

1950 -- Charley Powell (San Diego) E

Note: List extends back to 1890 in Cal-Hi Sports Record Book & Almanac (published 1999).



(All-time list)

(Last year was the first time it was chosen at the conclusion of the season; all previous selections have been made retroactively through research by Cal-Hi Sports founder Nelson Tennis)

2002 -- Kyle Wright (Monte Vista, Danville)

2001 -- Trent Edwards (Los Gatos)

2000 -- Kyle Matter (Hart, Newhall)

1999 -- Zac Wasserman (Westlake, Westlake Village)

1998 -- Kyle Boller (Hart, Newhall)

1997 -- Carson Palmer (Santa Margarita, Rancho SM)

1996 -- Randy Fasani (Del Oro, Loomis)

1995 -- Kevin Feterik (Los Alamitos)

1994 -- Mike Bastianelli (De La Salle, Concord)

1993 -- Keith Smith (Newbury Park)

1992 -- Pat Barnes (Trabuco Hills, Mission Viejo)

1991 -- Billy Blanton (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)

1990 -- Rob Johnson (El Toro)

1989 -- Ryan Hancock (Monta Vista, Cupertino)

1988 -- David Henigan (Fountain Valley)

1987 -- Bret Johnson (El Toro)

1986 -- Jimmy Bonds (Hart, Newhall)

1985 -- Dan McGwire (Claremont)

1984 -- Jamelle Hollieway (Banning, Wilmington)

1983 -- Brendan McCracken (Loyola, Los Angeles)

1982 -- John Paye (Menlo School, Atherton)

1981 -- Jim Plum (Helix, La Mesa)

1980 -- Sean Salisbury (Orange Glen, Escondido)

1979 -- Frank Seurer (Edison, Huntington Beach)

1978 -- John Elway (Granada Hills)

1977 -- Marcus Allen (Lincoln, San Diego)

1976 -- Ron Cuccia (Wilson, Los Angeles) Jr.

1975 -- Mark Malone (El Cajon Valley, El Cajon)

1974 -- Kenny Moore (San Fernando) Jr.

1973 -- Dennis Sproul (Los Altos, Hacienda Heights)

1972 -- Joe Roth (Granite Hills, El Cajon)

1971 -- Vince Ferragamo (Banning, Wilmington)

1970 -- Pat Haden (Bishop Amat, La Puente)

1969 -- Pat Haden (Bishop Amat, La Puente) Jr.

1968 -- Jesse Freitas (Serra, San Mateo)

1967 -- Grady Hurst (Santa Barbara)

1966 -- Dan Pastorini (Bellarmine, San Jose)

1965 -- Al Pitcaithly (San Leandro)

1964 -- Steve Sogge (Gardena)

1953 -- Carlton Kelly (Manual Arts, Los Angeles)

1962 -- Bobby Grim (Red Bluff)

1961 -- Milt Jackson (Grant, Sacramento)

1960 -- Craig Morton (Campbell)

Note: List extends back to 1945.

Coming Thursday:

State Junior of the Year

State Sophomore of the Year

State Medium School Player of the Year

State Small Schools Player of the Year

Coming Sunday, Jan. 5:

First Team All-State

Second Team All-State

Medium Schools All-State

Small Schools All-State

All-State Underclass

All-State Sophomores

Golden State Preps Top Stories