MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS
They eyed each other from across the line of scrimmage, trying to determine where each was planning to attack.
At times, the plays went right for Carpinteria quarterback Ian Craddock, and the Warriors picked up yardage and a first down. Then there were the times when Bishop Diego linebacker Christian Pearson read the play, filled a gap or dropped back into pass coverage and stuffed the opposition.
Their coaches and teammates knew Craddock and Pearson possessed that innate ability to make the big plays to help them win games. Their consistency, talent and leadership are the reasons they’ve been selected the Players of the Year on the Presidio Sports All-City Football Team.
Craddock is the Offensive Player of the Year and Pearson is the Defensive MVP.
The All-City Football Team, listed below, will be introduced at the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon on Monday, Jan. 13.
If there is a theme to this year’s All-City Team, it’s versatility. Several players on the squad were standouts at multiple positions. Craddock falls in that category. In addition to effectively running the complex Carpinteria offense, he excelled as a kicker and a defensive back for the Warriors.
“He took almost every snap on offense, he played nearly every snap on defense and he was involved on every play in the kicking game,” Carpinteria coach Ben Hallock said. “He was central in everything we did.”
Craddock compiled 2,400 total yards and scored 139 points for a Carpinteria team that went 8-4 and reached the quarterfinals of the CIF Northwest Division playoffs.
Craddock was an efficient passer, completing 106 of 162 passes for 1,672 yards and 15 touchdowns, with only six interceptions. As a runner, he gained 737 yards on 113 carries (6.52 average) and scored 12 TDs. He was a perfect 49 of 49 on PAT kicks and made 6 of 7 field goals, with his longest 47 yards. On defense, he made 20 solo tackles and had five interceptions.
Being counted on to do so many things for his team wasn’t a big deal for Craddock. He took it all in stride.
“He’s a very balanced person,” Hallock said. “He has a great mix of talent, work ethic, competitive desire, humility and a really great sense of humor. He keeps things in the right proportions.”
Another strength of Craddock’s is how he keeps an even keel.
“He never gloried in great plays and he never sulked nor shirked responsibility for poor ones,” Hallock said. “He was always quick to get ready and focused on what was next.”
Pearson’s tremendous focus, instincts and toughness made him an outstanding linebacker for Bishop Diego. He led the Cardinals in total tackles with 132, including 62 solo tackles and 24.5 for losses. He also had four interceptions, four fumble recoveries, 2.5 sacks and three hurries.
“Christian was the leader of our defense, not just statistically, but in terms of setting the tone for toughness and playing fast and physical,” Bishop Diego coach Tom Crawford said. “His presence coupled with his three years of starting experience made everyone around him better.”
Crawford said Pearson was especially important in short-yardage situations or “big-play” downs. One of the most memorable plays was a safety against La Salle.
“Christian just reacts on his own and he and Cowboy (John Samson) hit the ballcarrier in the end zone after the kid has taken about one step,” Crawford described. “From the end-zone camera, the speed, angle and physicality with which Christian comes on the play is remarkable. It sets the tone for the balance of the game.”
Pearson said having eight experienced players on the defensive unit was a big reason it was so successful — the Cardinals allowed only 132 points in 13 games, the lowest of any team in the Tri-Valley League.
The Cardinals finished 10-3 and advanced to the semifinals of the CIF Northwest Division.
“Even though we didn’t get that CIF championship, we gained something that lasts forever, and that’s being brothers and loving each other,” said Pearson on what he’ll remember most about the season.
THE 2013 ALL-CITY FOOTBALL TEAM
Offense MVP – Ian Craddock, Carpinteria, Senior
Defense MVP – Christian Pearson, Bishop Diego, Senior
BJ MURILLO, Bishop Diego, Sr. — A weapon that opened up Bishop Diego’s offense, Murillo accounted for more than 1,400 all-purpose yards. He averaged 17.8 yards per reception and 13.1 yards per carry. “He struck fear in the minds of opponents because of what he could do in space,” said Bishop coach Tom Crawford.
ABEL GONZALEZ, Bishop Diego, Jr. — He was the Cardinals’ leading rusher and scorer with 1,266 yards on 154 carries (8.2 yards per carry) and 17 touchdowns (19 total). “Deceptively strong and fast, he was a workhorse, particularly in all the games we were missing Aidan Williams,” said Crawford.
BRYSON FRAZER, Carpinteria, Sr. — The speedy Frazer made his mark as a big-play receiver and special teams player. But when the Warriors lost Jonathan Esqueda to injuries suffered in a car accident late in the season, he shined as a running back. Frazer was amazing as a punt returner. He had nine punts for TDs and gained 1,081 all-purpose yards.
LESHON BELL, Dos Pueblos, Sr. — Bell could do it all with the ball for the Chargers. He compiled 1,069 all-purpose yards as a quarterback, running back, receiver and returner. “He was our go-to guy on offense as he was very electrifying every time he touched the ball,” said coach Nate Mendoza. Bell also was a standout at cornerback.
ESTEBAN ALFARO, San Marcos, Sr. — The workhorse running back for the Royals gained 943 yards with 16 touchdowns on the ground and 33 receptions for 462 yards and two scores.
AUSTIN PUGH, San Marcos, Sr. — He was a dependable and clutch receiver for the Royals. Pugh caught 29 passes for 572 yards and six touchdowns.
MATT SESSLER, Dos Pueblos, Sr. — At 6-5, Sessler was a big target for DP’s quarterbacks. He caught 25 passes for 349 yards and six touchdowns and he was a good downfield blocker.
IN THE TRENCHES
MICAH RUIZ, Dos Pueblos, Sr. — Ruiz started every game and was a rock on the offensive line for the Chargers.
JOE SALCEDO, Bishop Diego, Sr. — A three-year starter at strong tackle, the 6-6, 275-pound Salcedo helped pave the way for an offense that averaged more than 400 yards per game and nearly 300 yards on the ground.
NATE WILLOWS, San Marcos, Jr. — Willows played both tackle and guard and was a punishing blocker and nimble pass protector, said coach Anthony Linebaugh.
DANIEL PODRATZ, SANTA BARBARA, Jr. — Combined power and quickness to become a standout lineman.
CONNOR KELSEY, Carpinteria, Sr. — A standout long and short snapper for the Warriors. “He has been perfect for two years,” Carpinteria coach Ben Hallock said. “In 30-plus years of coaching, he is flat-out the best I have ever had.”
DEFENSIVE FRONT FOUR
NOLAN TOOLEY, Bishop Diego, Sr. — Tooley was a menace for offensive lineman to handle. Even with teams running away from him, he notched 60-plus tackles, including 32 solo and 19.5 for a loss. He recorded 15 sacks, eight hurries, five pass deflections, caused four fumbles and recovered two. “He’s a D1-level athlete with size, speed and smarts,” said coach Crawford.
DUNCAN GORDON, Carpinteria, Sr — Gordon has a motor that never idles, coach Hallock said of the end. He was spectacular in the Warriors’ two CIF playoff games. Gordon recorded 91 tackles, including 18 for loss and 10 sacks. He caused two fumbles and recovered two.
PARKER ROZENBURG, San Marcos, Sr. — A big presence in the middle of the line for the Royals. He had 53 tackles, eight for loss and four sacks.
JOHN SAMSON, Bishop Diego, Sr. — A two-way standout in the trenches, the player nicknamed “Cowboy” was a force on both sides of the ball. He had 73 tackles, 37 solo, 18.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks, six hurries and two forced fumbles. “Cowboy was an ironman for us, rarely having a play off. He has a great motor and a passion for the game,” said Crawford.
CHEROKE CUNNINGHAM, Santa Barbara, Sr. — The Dons’ standout showed this season that he is a complete football player. Known more for his ability as a running back, Cunningham showed his hard-hitting, sure-tackling abilities as an outside linebacker. He had a team-best 42 solo tackles, 60 assists and one pass interception.
DAVID BLEVINS, Dos Pueblos, Sr. — Blevins was the soul of the Chargers defensive unit. He led the team with more than 90 tackles.
THOMAS LASH, Bishop Diego, Sr. — The athletic Lash could run down running backs and knock down passes. He had 62 total tackles, 20 solo, two sacks and six tackles for loss. “He’s coachable, committed and a competitive young man,” Crawford said. “His development this year was tremendous. You’ll see him playing next year in college.”
NIK PAJOUH, Cate, Sr. — The leader of the defense for the Condor League-champion Rams. In the wide-open 8-man game, he recorded a team-best 90 tackles, including eight for loss.
TYLER WELCH, Dos Pueblos, Sr. — A tremendous safety for the Chargers. “He’s one of the best safeties we have ever had here,” said coach Mendoza. Welch was the second-leading tackler on the team and led in solo tackles and interceptions.
ANTHONY CARTER, Bishop Diego, Sr. — Carter is a two-year multi-purpose standout for the Cardinals. As a defensive back, he had 47 tackles (29 solo), six interceptions, two fumble recoveries and three tackles for loss. Four of his picks came in the CIF playoffs. “He’s such a natural talent with incredible diversity and explosiveness,” said Crawford.
QUENTIN TEDESCO, Laguna Blanca, Jr. — Tedesco was a big reason the Owls went 6-4 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the CIF 8-man playoffs. He intercepted three passes in a game twice this season.