"He's definitely one of those guys who's going to be very hard to replace," Ladouceur said just after the Spartans' completed their 11th straight undefeated season with a 42-14 triumph over San Leandro in the CIF North Coast Section Class 4A title game. "He's picked it up and worked very hard in so many areas of his game to became a very special player. Every time we needed a tough run this year, fourth down or whatever, we'd give it to Maurice and we knew we'd get it."
Drew did not have the gaudy statistics of other top running backs in the state, but when you play for De La Salle it's often hard to collect even more than five carries in some of the blowout victories. He still finished with 1,457 yards in 12 games and averaged 12.1 yards per carry.
What set Drew apart this season was his performance on Oct. 5 in the Spartans' showdown game with Long Beach Poly and his ability to return kicks for touchdowns. Drew didn't score in this year's game vs. the Jackrabbits, but he rushed for 170 yards on 17 carries and wowed the crowd with his low center of gravity and his quick feet to turn the corner. Drew scored all four of De La Salle's touchdowns in last year's game vs. Long Beach Poly as a junior. As a kick returner, Drew brought back four punts and two kickoffs for scores this season and finished with eight kick return TDs for his career.
Drew follows in the path of 2001 Mr. Football State Player of the Year Derek Landri, 1999 State Player of the Year D.J. Williams and 1991 State Player of the Year Amani Toomer as De La Salle major statewide honor winners. Also, the 2000 State Linebacker of the Year would have been De La Salle's Kevin Simon.
Here are the other positional MVPs for the state for the 2002 season:
State Receiver of the Year:
Steve Smith (Taft, Woodland Hills)
Injuries that kept him out of two games didn't stop Smith from finishing with 86 catches for the season for 1,336 yards. He also ended his career as the most prolific receiver in state history. The 6-1, 190-pounder's final totals of 271 catches for 4,545 yards ranks him first on the all-time state list for both categories. He broke the previous state records of 269 catches for 4,455 yards set in 1993 by Leodes Van Buren of Newbury Park.
State Lineman of the Year:
Drew Radovich (Mission Viejo)
One of the main reasons it wasn't much a problem the Diablos' kept on winning even though starting quarterback Josh Rodarmel missed several games with an injury is because Radovich was consistently dominating up front. Radovich's presence also reduced the impact of Robby DuBois' graduation from the year before as this year's top running back, Ryan Holmes, consistently blew through holes on his side of the line. Radovich, a 6-5, 285-pounder, was voted the outstanding offensive lineman at the Nike Camp in Los Angeles last year, mostly for an insane 4.07 clocking in the shuttle. That's a terrific time for a running back, yet alone a big offensive lineman. Radovich is headed to USC.
State Linebacker of the Year:
Michael Okwo (Mira Costa, Manhattan Beach)
The Player of the Year by the South Bay Daily Breeze, Okwo was unstoppable on both sides of the ball the past three seasons. He's been picked here for defense and his numbers as a run stopper were especially strong. The 6-0, 210-pounder was in on 130 tackles this season and had seven sacks. For his career, Okwo has been credited with 400 tackles plus 14 sacks and three interceptions. As a running back, Okwo was among the state leaders in 2002 with 2,481 yards and 30 TDs. His career rushing totals wound up at 854 carries for 6,014 yards and 71 scores. Both the yardage and touchdown totals will make it onto the all-time state lists. Okwo did not move to Southern California until 1985. He's a native of England and also is a top student. He's taking a trip to Stanford on Jan. 10 and told the Daily Breeze that the Cardinal was "on top" with USC and UCLA tied for second.
State Defensive Back of the Year:
Desmond Reed (Temple City)
Reed has been named the Pasadena Star-News Player of the Year for the last two seasons. He can play both corner and safety positions, but his quick feet and knack for jumping into receivers' routes makes him more of a natural to be a corner in college. He's expected to sign with a major college program in February. Reed had nine interceptions this season and last we heard he had 31 interceptions for his career. He only needed three to tie the career state record. Reed's versatility also contributed to him receiving this honor. Another all-time state list he'll be on is for most kick return touchdowns for a season. Reed ran back four punts and four kickoffs for scores. His career total in that category also still needs to be obtained.
State Kicker of the Year:
Billy Vinnedge (Arroyo Grande)
Yes, there were others who made more field goals and others who made longer ones, but Vinnedge's punting gave him the edge and it's not exactly as if he didn't kick long field goals, either. Vinnedge has been reported with a 48-yard punting average on 41 punts this year for the Eagles. That's the third-highest in state history, behind only the reported record total of 49.4 for Tim Hughes of Gridley (1992) and 48.1 for Mac Smith of Hacienda Heights Los Altos (1978). Vinnedge also was 10-for-12 on field goals and had a long of 54.
STATE RUNNING BACKS OF THE YEAR
(Last year was the first time it was chosen at the end of the season; all other selections retroactively based on research by Cal-Hi Sports founder Nelson Tennis)
2002 -- Maurice Drew (De La Salle, Concord)
2001 -- Lorenzo Booker (St. Bonaventure, Ventura)
2000 -- Tyler Ebell (Ventura)
1999 -- Manuel White (Valencia)
1998 -- Onterrio Smith (Grant, Sacramento)
1997 -- DeShaun Foster (Tustin)
1996 -- Deonce Whitaker (Rancho Cucamonga)
1995 -- Ted Iacenda (Hart, Newhall)
1994 -- Steve Wofford (Bakersfield)
1993 -- McKay Christensen (Clovis West, Fresno)
1992 -- Saladin McCullough (Muir, Pasadena)
1991 -- Sharmon Shah (Dorsey, Los Angeles)
1990 -- Napoleon Kaufman (Lompoc)
1989 -- Napoleon Kaufman (Lompoc)
1988 -- Russell White (Crespi, Encino)
1987 -- Glyn Milburn (Santa Monica)
1986 -- Russell White (Crespi, Encino)
1985 -- Terry Rodgers (Sweetwater, National City)
1984 -- Aaron Emanuel (Quartz Hill)
1983 -- Ryan Knight (Rubidoux, Riverside)
1982 -- Marshall Dillard (Bakersfield)
1981 -- Kevin Willhite (Cordova, Rancho Cordova)
1980 -- Michael Alo (Banning, Wilmington)
1979 -- Kerwin Bell (Edison, Huntington Beach)
1978 -- Stanley Wilson (Banning, Wilmington)
1977 -- Mike Carnell (Mission San Jose)
1976 -- Freeman McNeil (Banning, Wilmington)
1975 -- Charles White (San Fernando)
1974 -- Myron White (Santa Ana Valley)
1973 -- Myron White (Santa Ana Valley)
1972 -- Wally Henry (Lincoln, San Diego)
1971 -- Jerry Manuel (Cordova, Rancho Cordova)
1970 -- Allen Carter (Bonita, La Verne)
1969 -- James McAlister (Blair, Pasadena)
1968 -- Sam Cunningham (Santa Barbara)
1967 -- Isaac Curtis (Santa Ana)
1966 -- Mickey Cureton (Centennial, Compton)
1965 -- Greg Jones (South San Francisco)
1964 -- Rick Bennett (Selma)
1963 -- Marvon Motley (Poly, Long Beach)
1962 -- Steve Grady (Loyola, Los Angeles)
1961 -- Mike Garrett (Roosevelt, Los Angeles)
1960 -- Kent Nance (Madera)
Note: List extends back to 1940.
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