Today we released our preseason all-state teams in football. There’s no doubt many of these players will make the actual all-state team at the conclusion of the season. But as has become all too common in the news lately with deaths on the field and the NFL’s concussion lawsuit by former players, you realize just how fragile this game is and how a career can be turned upside down in one play.
Just last season, two players stand out that looked like good bets to make the all-state team — RB Lavon Coleman (Lompoc) and QB Johnny Stanton (Santa Margarita). Their seasons, however, were marred by injury.
We took a look back at all of our preseason all-state teams and a few names stand out.
*In 2008, QB Matt Barkley (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) was the leading candidate for Mr. Football and a Mr. Football USA favorite. Unfortunately, he threw a lot of interceptions and Mater Dei failed to make it to the CIFSS Pac-Five title game. Barkley wasn’t first or second team all-state. It’s a similar situation to what happened his senior year at USC when he was a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.
*In 1995, RB Michael Graham (Muir, Pasadena) was a transfer from Charter Oak of Covina and was expected to be one of the state’s top backs. He was highly-regarded coming into high school, where he started at Mater Dei and was being touted as the next great back out of Orange County in tenth-grade. That never materialized and Graham didn’t even finish the season with the Mustangs, nor did he finish the school year at Muir, either.
*In 1993, RB/DB Rodney Percoats (Los Banos) stands out because he’s always supported Cal-Hi Sports and loves to talk about high school football throughout the state. He’s active on our Facebook page and is a reminder that people do appreciate the work we do chronicling high school sports in the state over the years.
*In 1990, DB Eugene Jackson (Lynwood) sticks out like a sore thumb. He is a long-time lead defensive back coach on our Nike Football Training Camp tour. He’s also a personal friend and is always helping people in the community in and near where he went to high school.
*In 1989, two names stand out real quick. WR Kevin Copeland (Dorsey, Los Angeles) and RB Jerome Casey (Sylmar). Copeland led a great group of WRs, but unfortunately he never got to play in college. In a game played at Daniels Field at San Pedro early in the season, Copeland collapsed and died due to a heart condition. For those that saw him play, there is little doubt he would have starred in college and played in the NFL. He’s also one of the best high school punt returners we’ve ever seen. Casey was just one of the many great backs in a Golden Era for L.A. City Section backs. It seems every good city program had a good back — and some even had two or three. One of the best two-way players ever in San Fernando Valley history, Casey didn’t satisfy Prop 48 requirements at USC. It always makes us wonder how many potentially good college careers were wiped out by that NCAA legislation.
*In 1987, WR/DB Billy Wright (Edison, Fresno) is the father of current Edison standout running back Blake Wright. Wright is a three-year starter and is ranked as the No. 12 best running back prospect in the state.