Defensive Player of the Year Honorable Mentions
by Jace LeJeune
What a year for Louisiana High School Football in 2016. Every year, the state of Louisiana proves what kind of talent that these individuals have. Last week, we revealed our Offensive Players of the Year after revealing our Defensive Players of the Year the week before. The best offensive and defensive players in the entire state appeared on our show to receive some magnificent trophies thanks to Linear Controls. Overall, there are 15 winners on offense and defense from 1A-5A. To find out who won our awards on offense and defense, check our website out as well as our social media accounts. We are not just awarding the skill guys for their marvelous play this season, but we are also honoring the best offensive linemen in the state with our “In the Trenches Award” which will go to the best offensive lineman. There were a lot of great players that were left out and if we had to give out 50 trophies, then, we would do that, but unfortunately, we could not. Yesterday, we recognized the great offensive football players in the state that did not win our awards. To find out who were our offensive honorable mentions, click the following link: https://www.lafootballmagazine.com/news/c48-recruiting/offensive-player-of-the-year-honorable-mentions/. Today, we are profiling all of our defensive honorable mentions on our website and we would like to recognize the great players on the other side of the football. Even though these following players did not win, they should be recognized for their stellar play this past season and want to congratulate these players on their fantastic seasons!
LB Chris Allen
Southern Lab High School
Southern Lab senior LB Chris Allen came into this season as one of the biggest recruits on the defensive side of the football. He has been a part of a dominating defense along with our 1A Defensive Player of the Year Southern Lab senior DT Shannon Forman. Allen is a physical freak of nature at 6’4, 230 pounds to go along with his 4.5 40 speed. The LSWA 1A Defensive Player of the Year was in strong consideration for this award with his 82 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and six sacks. He also led the Kittens to back to back state championships. Allen disappointed a lot of LSU fans with his decision to go to Alabama, but with the success that the Crimson Tide has had at linebacker, there is no question that Chris Allen could be the next great linebacker to go through Alabama.
DT Mackenzie Carrier
Oberlin High School
Oberlin sophomore DT Mackenzie Carrier came out of nowhere this season to have himself a breakout season. Carrier was a tough defensive player for offenses to deal with as he had 75 tackles, four sacks, and two fumble recoveries. At 6’3, 300, Carrier is a tough lineman to handle and will cause some major havoc for opposing offenses in the next two seasons for the Tigers.
LB/SS Damone Clark
Southern Lab High School
As Shannon Forman and Chris Allen were leading the defensive front, Southern Lab DB Damone Clark was the star player in the middle of the defense as well as the secondary. Last season, the junior had 48 tackles, five tackles for loss, four interceptions, and four interceptions. With the two star defensive players leaving next year, Clark is expected to be the top defensive player coming back for the Kittens.
FS Ja’len Johnson
Central Catholic High School
Central Catholic FS Ja’len Johnson is one of the best defensive backs in the state and could be a big time player for even a 5A program. Johnson is big, physical, mean, and is not afraid to lay a hit on a receiver. Last season, the Louisiana Lafayette signee had a big time season for the Eagles racking up almost 70 tackles, six interceptions, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
LB Ken Jones
Westminster Christian Academy
Westminster Christian senior LB Ken Jones is another great example of a tackling machine. He has had over 100 tackles in the last couple of years and will come down as one of the most accomplished players to ever go through the program. Last season, he had 124 tackles, 81 solo, and 15 tackles for loss. Jones has decided to sign as a walk on at Louisiana Lafayette next fall.
DT Langston Murray
Logansport High School
The Logansport Tigers went undefeated as well as winning the 1A state championship. Even thought the Tigers had two offensive stars last season in QB Dalton Shaw and RB Debell Crawford, the team could not get the job done without Logansport senior DT Langston Murray and the rest of the defense. Murray is one of the strongest defensive linemen in the entire state and can take on double teams and still make plays behind the line of scrimmage for a defense that only has given up nine points per game. He also has some speed for a guy that is over 300 pounds. Last season, he had 74 tackles, six sacks, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, 18 tackles for loss, and leading the Tigers to the state championship. Murray has signed with New Mexico State to continue his football career.
DT Kendal Offord
Delhi Charter High School
Another top interior defensive lineman in 1A is Delhi Charter senior DT Kendal Offord. Offord was a sleeper recruit heading into this season and wanted to prove to coaches that he can play football. He is not a lineman who just takes up double teams, but is somebody that actually makes plays on defense. This season, he had 96 tackles, 6o solo, 36 assists, ten tackles for loss, and a sack.
DB Jacoby Stewart
The Ascension Catholic Bulldogs had themselves a good season making it to the second round of the Division IV playoffs. One of the defensive players that was the key reason that the Bulldogs had a successful season was senior DB Jacoby Stewart. Last season, Stewart had 43 tackles, four pass breakups, and five interceptions.
LB Weston Swanner
St. Frederick High School
St. Frederick junior LB Weston Swanner is only 5’8 at 190 pounds. He is not as intimidating as someone like Chris Allen when it comes to size, but Swanner plays with a lot of heart and intensity on the football field. His toughness and quickness led Swanner to a great individual season racking up over 100 tackles, 11 tackles, and four sacks.
LB Sean Badeaux
Holy Savior Menard High School
Holy Savior Menard senior linebacker Sean Badeaux is a tough football player that is a tackling machine. He is a player that is smart and likes to lay the hammer down on offensive players. Last season, he had an incredible 143 tackles including 22 of them behind the line of scrimmage to gather many awards and recognitions for this season and for his very productive high school football career. He was also in very strong consideration for our 2A Defensive Player of the Year this season.
LB Patrick Burleigh
Notre Dame (Crowley) High School
One of the toughest football players and leaders in the state is Notre Dame senior LB Patrick Burleigh. He was the defensive leader for the Pioneers for the last two seasons and also led the team in tackles both seasons.
LB Jake Gitter
Metairie Park Country Day High School
Metairie Park Country Day senior LB Jake Gitter is one of those linebackers who has great instincts and speed. He always seems to be at the right place at the right time. Last season, he did a little bit of everything for the Cajuns including racking up 81 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and ten tackles for loss.
DT Zi’Yon Hill
Catholic High School (New Iberia)
Catholic (New Iberia) senior DT Zi’Yon Hill is one of the most versatile defensive linemen in the state. He is big enough to play defensive tackle and at the same time, he is quick enough to play defensive end. He caused a lot of trouble for opponents including our 3A Co-Offensive Player of the Year Erath RB Elijah Mitchell. Hill has the capability to take over a game and was a main reason on why the Panthers had the type of season that they did this season.
DL Troy James
Madison Prep High School
Madison Prep senior DE Bryan Jones is not the only big time recruit from the Madison Prep defense. Madison Prep senior DL Troy James is another big time recruit from the athletic Charger defense. At 6’4, 280, James is a physical specimen and what is scary is that he can move really well for his size. This season, he helped lead Madison Prep to their first state championship appearance and racked up 108 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 9 sacks while doing so. Troy James signed with football powerhouse Oklahoma Sooners to continue his football career.
DE Bryan Jones
Madison Prep High School
Madison Prep DL Troy James’ highly recruited teammate DE Bryan Jones is another physically gifted defensive lineman that also happened to play for Coach Mike Roach’s squad. This season, the 6’5, 240 pound defensive end had 78 tackles, 13 sacks, and six tackles for loss. Jones is also going to a D-I school like his teammate, but this one is the University of Houston.
LB Lewis Matthews
Ferriday High School
Ferriday junior linebacker Lewis Matthews is a very talented defensive player who was named the Defensive MVP of his district. In his junior season, he racked up 106 tackles, 82 solo, and 22 tackles for loss. Not only is he a great linebacker, but he also plays on offense as he contributed to over 200 yards and three touchdowns. The Trojans lose their quarterback but return a big time play maker next season.
LB Kobe Porche
Newman High School
Isidore Newman senior LB Kobe Porche had a breakout senior season posting 119 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two sacks, and two forced fumbles against some very good 2A teams. Porche may not have been one of the biggest players on the football field, but his effort stood out on every play.
DT Caleb Sampson
Northlake Christian High School
Northlake Christian DT Caleb Sampson is a very talented defensive lineman. Sampson is not just a big guy at 6’3, 270 pounds, but he has some really good feet. That is a really good combination to have for an interior defensive lineman. In his senior season, he had 66 tackles, three sacks, and five in a half tackles for loss. Caleb Sampson decommitted from Tulane and has now signed with the Missouri Tigers, which is a team known for producing great defensive linemen in the NFL.
DT Tyler Shelvin
Notre Dame (Crowley) High School
Notre Dame DT Tyler Shelvin is a man among boys and is a load to try and block with even two guys. Unfortunately, Shelvin did not have the stats that many people thought that he would put up while at Notre Dame due to injuries that derailed his senior season. However, when he was on the field, he showed what kind of dominant player he can be. Last season, he had 34 tackles, two sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, and seven quarterback hurries. This season, Shelvin is the number one player in the state of Louisiana in recruiting and is staying in his home state at LSU next season.
DB Isaiah Smith
Many High School
Many RB A.J. Carter was the main offensive star for the Tigers last season, but on defense, players like senior DB Isaiah Smith made plays on the defensive side of the football. Smith was a tackling machine as a defensive back as well as a ball hawk with his 102 tackles and eight interceptions.
LB Kendrick Smith
There may not be a better outside linebacker in the state than South Plaquemines OLB Kendrick Smith. Smith is one of the most underrated at his position as he has the ability to star at the D-I level and he proved it last season. He had 104 tackles, 22 for loss, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and eight sacks. The versatile linebacker can do everything from playing in coverage, tackling in open space, and rushing the passer. The Louisiana College Wildcats are getting a big time steal in Kendrick Smith next season.
DB Jamal Walters
West St. John High School
There are a lot of good defensive backs that are really good in coverage, but it takes a great defensive back to make a play on the football. West St. John DB Jamal Walters was one of the best at doing that last season. He was one of the state leaders in interceptions with seven. Walters just had the knack of being at the right place at the right time. What is most dangerous about him is that when he makes a play on the football, it usually results in six points. West St. John Head Coach Brandon Walters‘ youngest son is taking his football talents to Nichols State next season.
LB Xavier Davis
Parkview Baptist High School
Parkview Baptist LB Xavier Davis may be undersized for a linebacker, but he is a really good athlete as well as a guy who is a very dependable tackler. He helped the Eagles overcome their 0-3 start and reach the Division II state championship. Last season, he had 83 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two in a half sacks, and four fumble recoveries.
DT Jamiran James
De La Salle High School
De La Salle junior DT Jamiran James was overshadowed by his other talented teammate Danquan Edwards heading into this season and now, he has proved that he is really good as well. Last season, James had 62 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 15 sacks. Now, James has proved that he is a very talented defensive lineman as well and next year, he will be the star as Edwards will graduate.
DB Trent Kavanaugh
Parkview Baptist High School
Parkview senior DB Trent Kavanaugh is a very special player as he can basically play any position that his coach would want to put him. He has played running back, safety, linebacker, and on special teams. As a defensive back and for the last line of the defense for the Eagles, Kavanaugh had 48 tackles, three tackles for loss, and an interception. Next season, he will play football for the Georgetown Hoyas.
LB Josh Paul
De La Salle High School
One of the most dominating defensive players this season had to be De La Salle senior LB Josh Paul. Paul was a nightmare for offenses this season as he basically did everything from sacking a quarterback to blocking punts. Last season, he had 74 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, one fumble return for a touchdown, a blocked punt, and two touchdowns. Next season, Paul is taking his talents to the SEC where he will play for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
LB Rashaun Preston
Lutcher High School
The Lutcher High School Bulldogs were known for their offense this season, but in order to win a state championship, a team must have some quality defense. With leaders such as our 3A Defensive Player of the Year senior DB Dylan Recotta and senior LB Rashaun Preston, the defense did just that. Both were team leaders on the defense as well as tackling machines. Last season, Preston had 134 tackles, 64 solo tackles, four tackles for loss, and two interceptions.
LB Hunter Smith
West Feliciana High School
The West Feliciana Saints had a great season and found themselves a game away from playing in the Superdome. Senior LB Hunter Smith was a huge part in that. The main defensive leader had 99 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, and 17 quarterback hurries in his final season as the main defensive leader for West Feliciana as he will take his talents to Louisiana Monroe next season.
LB Gaige Willis
Northwest High School
Northwest High School is not the biggest 3A school compared to other powerhouses on the list such as Parkview Baptist and Lutcher, but the team has its share of great players including senior LB Gaige Willis, who was all over the field making tackles. Last season, he had 120 tackles including 73 solo.
DE Shawn Williams
Marksville High School
Marksville High School junior DE Shawn Williams was a defensive lineman who just did not take a play off. It is unusual for a defensive lineman to rack up over 100 tackles, but that is what he did last season. Williams had 113 tackles, 32 solo, 81 assists, 13 for loss, six sacks, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. The good news for Marksville is that this talented defensive end is coming back for another season.
LB Zi’Kerrion Baker
Minden High School
Minden senior LB Zi’Kerrion Baker is a highly gifted football player and got to put his abilities on display this season. He had over 100 tackles and nine sacks. Baker will take his talents to the SEC next season to the Ole Miss Rebels.
DT Christian Brooks
Assumption High School
Assumption High School senior DT Christian Brooks has definitely an interesting story. He has a lot of talent, but is very raw as high school football is the first time that he has even played. The crazy thing is that Brooks is making the sport look really easy even though he has not played the sport long. Brooks really broke out in his senior season racking up 84 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 14 sacks.
LB Rashaad Harding
Carencro High School
This season proved to be the year of the linebacker as there are a lot of linebackers in this class. One of the best ones in the state is Carencro senior LB Rashaad Harding. He is probably the most underrated linebacker in the state because nobody really talks about him that much. Last season, he had 102 tackles, seven sacks, and an interception. Next season, Harding is taking his football talents to the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks.
FS Todd Harris
Plaquemine High School
Plaquemine senior FS Todd Harris is one of the most gifted defensive backs in the state. He is fast, big, and very physical. Todd Harris has all the tools to be a great defensive back for a long time. In his senior season, Harris showed why he is so highly recruited. He had 91 tackles, three interceptions, three pass breakups, three forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. Todd Harris decided to stay in his home state for next season as he has signed with the LSU Tigers.
CB Kenderick Marbles
Neville High School
The Neville secondary had to be the best in the entire state with the number of great players that they had. The talented group included Corey Straughter, Jacorian Andrews, Herschel Carter, and Kenderick Marbles. It is hard to stand out from the group, but Marbles tried his best to do just that. Last season, he had 34 tackles, seven interceptions, five pass breakups, and two fumble recoveries. The talented defensive back has also decided to stay in state as he has signed to play football for the Warhawks of Louisiana Monroe.
LB Jordan Myles
Benton High School
Benton sophomore LB Jordan Myles still has plenty of football left but he left his mark this season with almost 70 tackles and a couple of interceptions as well as a couple of fumble recoveries. He is not the biggest guy, but is very quick and explosive for a linebacker.
DT Phidarian Mathis
Neville High School
After the 2015 season, the Neville Tigers had to replace standout DT Rashard Lawrence (LSU), but the good news was that they did not have to look hard to find a really good replacement. Neville senior DT/DE Phidarian Mathis stepped in Lawrence’s shoes and did a fantastic job. This season, he had 41 tackles, five tackles for loss, and seven sacks. Like Chris Allen, he is also taking his football talents to the University of Alabama, where he can be also be another great defensive player for years to come.
DB Brad Stewart
McDonogh 35 High School
The LSWA 4A Defensive Player of the Year made a big time strong case for our 4A Defensive Player of the Year after the numbers that he put up. This season, he had 111 tackles, 13 pass breakups, and an incredible 11 interceptions. Stewart was a great tackler as well as a great ball hawk for the Roneagles this season and throughout his career. Stewart is one of the best at his position in the entire state and will take his talents to the University of Florida, where the school has its reputation of sending defensive backs like Brad Stewart to the NFL.
DB Damien Tate
Warren Easton High School
Warren Easton junior DB Damien Tate will enter next season as one of the best athletes in the state regardless of position. Tate showed how versatile he is this season when he had 40 tackles, four interceptions on defense, and one returned for a touchdown as a defensive back. He also made some plays on offense and special teams with two touchdown receptions and a kickoff return for a touchdown.
DT Kevin Victorian
LaGrange High School
LaGrange senior DT Kevin Victorian looks the part at 6’3, 250 pounds and showed it on the football field this season. He wrecked a lot of havoc for offenses last season as he had 78 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, 11 sacks, and three fumble recoveries. The Gators are losing a key defensive piece next season, but the Grambling Tigers gain that piece in Kevin Victorian next season.
LB Micah Baskerville
Evangel Christian Academy
Evangel Christian Academy junior LB Micah Baskerville is a highly talented linebacker who has a great combination of size, speed, and ability to shut down running plays. This season, he had over 100 tackles as well as helped lead the Eagles to another state championship with their dominant defense.
DT Davin Cotton
Evangel Christian Academy
Evangel Christian Academy junior DT Davin Cotton is one of the best junior defensive linemen in the entire state because of his pass rushing ability and his ability to not be moved by offensive linemen. Cotton was one of the big reasons why the Eagle defense was as dominant as it was in 2016. Last season, he had 64 tackles, 14 sacks, 19 tackles for a loss with 6 forced fumbles and 3 touchdowns..
LB Justin Daniels
East Ascension High School
East Ascension High School senior LB Justin Daniels may not be the most known defensive player for the Spartans, but he quietly led the team in tackles last season with 109 tackles, five sacks, 12 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and two interceptions. Daniels will continue his football career at Hutchinson Community College.
LB Preston Faulkner
Live Oak High School
Live Oak senior LB Preston Faulkner is a really good athlete and has actually signed with Southeastern Louisiana University to pursue his baseball career, but he is also a pretty good football player as well. This past season, the tackling machine had 126 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and six sacks.
LB Anthony Ford
Covington High School
Covington senior LB Anthony Ford was another guy like Justin Daniels, who had a big time season in his senior season. Ford had over 100 tackles with 13 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. Anthony Ford made a lot of plays whether it was rushing the passer or making a tackle in open space. His breakout season attracted schools such as Arkansas-Monticello, where he will be continuing his football career.
DE Tyrique Gibson
Ponchatoula High School
Ponchatoula senior DE Tyrique Gibson is a scary player to block for an offensive lineman because of his size and quickness. That combination led him to a great senior season in 2016. Gibson had 48 tackles, 10 sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. The Green Wave will surely miss his ability to pass rush, but the McNeese State Cowboys are sure happy to get a solid player in Gibson to add to their program.
DB Corione Harris
Landry Walker High School
Landry Walker was known for their offense last season, but the defense helped along the way to their first state championship since the two schools combined. One of the team’s star defensive players is junior DB Corione Harris. Harris is one of the best cover cornerbacks in the state, and he proved that last season with his 80 tackles and 17 pass deflections.
DE Justin Harris
East Ascension High School
The other “Justin” from East Ascension High School came into this season as a big time recruit. At 6’6, 245, Harris is a great athlete who has not had a lot of experience playing football. In fact, before his junior season, he was just a basketball player playing for Lutcher. Now, he is a basketball player turned football player playing for the Spartans. This past season, a lot of high school teams got to see the potential that Harris has as a pass rusher. Last season, he had 65 tackles, 11.5 sacks, and five pass breakups. Next season, the athletic Justin Harris is taking his talents to Baylor University.
LB Josh James
Airline High School
One of the most consistent linebackers in the state is Airline senior LB Josh James. He is a very dependable tackler and is always at the right place at the right time. Last season, he had 126 tackles including 15 tackles for loss. Next season, he will continue his football career with East Texas Baptist University.
DB Kelvin Joseph
Scotlandville High School
The Scotlandville junior defensive back has already played a lot of football for the Hornets and helped the team get to their first state championship in 40 years. He will return next season for the Hornets as one of the top defensive backs in the state for next season. Last season, he showed his skills by making 67 tackles, 22 pass breakups, three interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns. Joseph is a great cover cornerback that is expected to be the team’s top player next season now that QB Levi Lewis has gone to Louisiana Lafayette.
OLB Chris Lewis
Ouachita Parish High School
Ouachita Parish junior LB Chris Lewis is a talented linebacker who had a great season making 1st Team as a linebacker. He has great speed and playmaking ability. Lewis is capable of taking over a game like he did against Scotlandville earlier this year when he was all over the field making tackles for the Lions.
LB/SS Derrick Munson
Archbishop Rummel High School
Archbishop Rummel LB/SS Derrick Munson is one of the most unique defensive players in the state because he has the ability to play either linebacker or strong safety. Last season, he had 110 tackles, 13 for loss, and five interceptions while leading one of the best defenses in the state. Munson is a hard hitting player much like his teammate LB Shahid Reece. The Raiders are losing a great player in Munson, but his football career is not over. He has signed with the Arkansas Razorbacks to continue his stellar football career.
LB Donovan Perkins
Zachary High School
Zachary LB Donovan Perkins may not be the tallest linebacker, but he has all the qualities that you want in a great linebacker. He is instinctive, hard-nosed, quick, and smart. Last season, he helped carry the Broncos to a semifinal finish in the Class 5A playoffs. He had 103 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, five sacks, and four interceptions. Perkins was a leader on the team after Zachary lost most of their offensive play makers from the season before and was one of the key reasons why the Broncos had the deep playoff run that they did. Donovan Perkins will continue his football career with the Roadrunners of the University of Texas-San Antonio.
DB Bralen Trahan
Acadiana High School
Acadiana senior DB Bralen Trahan is a swiss army knife because of the many positions he can play. He showed his versatility last season and in big games such as the playoff game against high seed Ponchatoula in which he had two rushing touchdowns and an interception for a touchdown. Next season, he will take his talents to Louisiana Lafayette.
SS Garret Wallow
John Curtis High School
At the beginning of the season, Louisiana Football Magazine Editor/T.V. Host Lee Brecheen compared Wallow to former Rummel and LSU great Craig Steltz. That is a lot of high praise for this young defensive back from John Curtis and he showed why he is so special on the football field. Last season, the TCU signee had 70 tackles, five tackles for loss, and four interceptions.