It now can be revealed why this year’s announcement regarding the winner of the 2012 Mr. Football State Player of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports had to be delayed one week.
If it had gone out as originally planned, the news would have been greatly over-shadowed with the move by the legendary Bob Ladouceur to end his 34-year head coaching career at De La Salle of Concord.
Making that situation even more awkward is that it also was fairly certain who was going to be named Mr. Football for this year and that it would be a De La Salle player.
Today, it’s official. Senior linebacker Michael Hutchings of the Spartans is the 2012 honoree. He becomes the fourth player from De La Salle to be chosen State Player of the Year, following Amani Toomer (1991), D.J. Williams (1999) and Derek Landri (2001).
“I’m surprised and a little shocked, but it’s a great honor to be put in the same class as a few of those others from my school,” said Hutchings when informed on Friday afternoon that he had won. “I feel like I worked hard since last January. What really gave me the edge was not playing baseball in the spring and I just kept up the same work ethic. I want to thank my parents because they kept me grounded, this year especially.”While Hutchings did make some plays on offense and special teams, his selection is primarily for his work on defense. This is unlike Williams, who was as much of a freak of nature as a running back on offense as he was as a defensive player. The last primary linebacker to be picked as Mr. Football was Frank Manumaluena from Banning of Wilmington for 1973.
Hutchings, a 6-foot-2, 215-pounder who is headed to USC and who also happens to be one of the state’s top 10 college prospects by just about every recruiting service, came through with dominating outings in each of De La Salle’s last two games against two of the most prolific offenses in state history.
Against Folsom in the CIF Open Division Northern California bowl game in which the Spartans held the Bulldogs to just two scores, Hutchings had nine tackles and one interception. Then against Corona Centennial (which was averaging 52 ppg) in a game in which the Spartans held the Huskies to four scores, Hutchings had a team-leading 10 tackles, batted away a pass and perhaps registered the most stunning hit of the weekend on kickoff coverage (although he was flagged for a penalty).
“Every time you go out there you don’t know if it’s going to be your last game,” Hutchings said. “You have to go as hard as you can every play, but yes it did excite me more to play on the greater stage.:
Last season as a junior, Hutchings was among several top defenders at De La Salle on a unit that shut out Westlake of Westlake Village 35-0 in the CIF Open Division state bowl game. In that game, he also scored a touchdown on offense when he took a fourth down pass from quarterback Bart Houston and went all the way to the end zone.
Even as a sophomore starter, Hutchings made his presence known in the CIF Open Division bowl game (the Spartans won that one 48-8 against Servite of Anaheim) with an interception that set up the team’s third touchdown.
For the 2012 season, Hutchings finished with 113 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions. He also displayed his speed on one kickoff return against Mullen of Denver by scoring on a 99-yard touchdown.
“It was great to play on those three defenses,” Hutchings said. “Each one had a different idenity. And when we played teams like Folsom and Westlake most of (the success) was just getting aggressive with them. It was just a matter of coming together and getting more clear about what to do.”
Facing spread offenses should continue for Hutchings when he takes the field for USC in Pac-12 Conference games against teams like Oregon, Arizona, Cal and others.
“It just helps playing in space, not as much inside the box,” he said. “Linebackers now have to be more athletic, almost play like a strong safety.”
One of the only hesitations there was at choosing Hutchings is that he was not picked as the player of the year by either the San Francisco Chronicle or Contra Costa Times. Both of those honors, though, went to players known mostly for offense. Plus, all three members of the Cal-Hi Sports’ staff who covered games nearly every week this season all voted for Hutchings for Mr. Football with actually not much debate.
It also can be stated that Hutchings did about the same in his senior year leading the Spartans on defense as Michael Barton did last season. The difference is that last year Deontay Greenberry from Washington of Easton caught a state-record 33 touchdown passes for a state championship team. This year, no such candidate emerged. Barton was the 2011 State Large Schools Player of the Year.
Hutchings did not graduate early like many of his future USC teammates, including consensus national player of the year Max Browne, the quarterback from Skyline of Sammamish, Wash. He will concentrate on his classes, work out alongside some of the other De La Salle players and graduate in May.
“I was out of town last week when that press conference was held,” said Hutchings, who was at the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio, Texas. “We’d been hearing a little of that stuff during the season, but it was surreal to see it happen. It’s going to be a little sad for some of the younger guys here coming up not to have Coach Lad as their head coach, but I can also see the new age of Coach (Justin) Alumbaugh. He was a linebacker here, too.”
Here is the all-time list of Mr. Football State Players of the Year (all selected by Cal-Hi Sports but done retroactively based on research prior to 1975 by our late founder, the great Nelson Tennis):
2012 — Michael Hutchings (De La Salle, Concord) LB
2011 — Deontay Greenberry (Washington Union, Easton) WR-DB
2010 — Dano Graves (Folsom) QB
2009 — Dillon Baxter (Mission Bay, San Diego) QB-RB
2008 — Tyler Gaffney (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego) RB
2007 — Milton Knox (Birmingham, Lake Balboa) RB
2006 — Aaron Corp (Lutheran, Orange) QB
2005 — Toby Gerhart (Norco) RB
2004 — Desean Jackson (Poly, Long Beach) WR-DB-KR
2003 — Sean Norton (Hart, Newhall) QB
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-KR
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 (Santa Ana Valley) 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 (Jr.)
1966 — Mickey Cureton (Centennial, Compton) RB
1965 — Greg Jones (South San Francisco) RB
1964 — George Buehler (Whittier) LB-OL
1963 — Tim Rossovich (St. Francis, Mountain View) 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
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 — Paul 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 (San Francisco 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 — Ervin “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
Note: List continues back to 1890 in the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book & Almanac.
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