We are going with seven players from around the state who can consider themselves finalists to be the 2014 Mr. Football State Player of the Year. Several are obvious, but a few may not be. We have two quarterbacks, one running back, two receivers and two others who pretty much did everything for their teams.
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Congratulations to these seven players, who have been chosen today as a finalist to be the 2014 Mr. Football State Player of the Year. This honor is the only one that dates back more than 100 years and includes those such as Toby Gerhart, DeSean Jackson, D.J. Williams, John Elway, Marcus Allen, Pat Haden, Mike Garrett, Dick Bass, Hugh McElhenny, Harold “Brick” Muller and many more. All of this year’s finalists listed below in alphabetical order. The winner will be announced on Friday, Jan. 9.Jake Browning (Folsom)
Probably the most obvious of the finalists is Browning, who also is in line for numerous national player of the year awards. The senior QB led Folsom to a 16-0 record, No. 2 final state ranking and had 91 TD passes to tie a national record. He also had 5,704 passing yards (No. 2 in state history) and set a national record for career TD passes with 229. He will play next at Washington.
Ben Burr-Kirven (Sacred Heart Prep, Atherton)
It’s hard not to love a player that makes an impact on both sides of the ball and that is what this senior linebacker and running back did during the Gators’ undefeated season. Despite missing the first month of the season with an injury, he rushed for 862 yards and 18 touchdowns on 106 carries but the bulk of those carries came in the games that meant the most as he had 66 of those carries come in the final three games of the season. Burr-Kirven, who we expect to become a two-time San Jose Mercury News Player of the Year, rushed for two touchdowns in all three of SHP’s playoff games, including a 27-carry for 103-yard and two-touchdown performance during the 14-0 win over Bellarmine of San Jose in the CCS Open Division championship game. On defense, he finished with 116 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions. He will join fellow finalist Jake Browning at Washington next season.
Miles Harrison (Clayton Valley, Concord)
The senior running back, who began his junior year with a 173-yard outing in a loss by the Ugly Eagles to De La Salle, capped a banner season with 50 carries for 324 yards and three TDs to lead Clayton Valley in its 34-33 loss to Redlands East Valley in the CIF Division II state bowl game. Clayton Valley’s stats on MaxPreps show him with more yards, but the official game stats is what we will go with for our records. Harrison, who battled a bone bruise late in the season that limited his production, still ended with 2,709 yards rushing and scored 34 times.
Trent Irwin (Hart, Newhall)
As the leading target of teammate and best friend Brady White over the majority of his high school career, Irwin set the state record for career receptions and yards. The likely winner of the L.A. Daily News Player of the Year honor, Irwin finished his high school career with 285 catches for 5,272 yards with the Indians. During his senior season, he caught 106 passes for 1,974 yards and 22 touchdowns with his final game being a 15-catch performance for 161 yards and two touchdowns during a playoff loss to Upland. Putting himself in both the school and Cal-Hi Sports state record book earlier in the season, Irwin had 13 catches for 279 yards and six touchdowns during a 43-12 win over Saugus. According to a story from Signal Sports, he is choosing between Arizona State and Stanford and if he heads to the Sun Devils he could once again be catching passes from White.
Malik Lovette (Redlands East Valley, Redlands)
It was quite an individual showcase for both Lovette and Miles Harrison of Clayton Valley in the CIF D2 bowl game and we decided that both should be Mr. Football finalists. Lovette was the star player for an REV team that held on to win that game 34-33. He’s the epitome of the multi-purpose player we love to pick for our all-state teams in the format we use and we’ll guarantee that Lovette will be listed on the first team this year as one of those six players. The game-breaking player who is headed to Oregon had nine catches for 154 yards and one TD in the state final, scored twice on rushing plays and had 184 all-purpose yards. For the season, Lovette had 2,568 all-purpose yards including 990 rushing and 23 TDs plus 70 catches for 1,144 receiving and nine scores.
Javon McKinley (Centennial, Corona)
Not only is Javon in contention to be named State Junior of the Year but has to rank as an overall state player of the year candidate as well after catching n amazing 97 passes for 2,063 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. In leading the Huskies to the CIF Open Division State Bowl Game, McKinley went over 100 yards receiving in eight of their 10 games during the regular season. The likely Riverside County/Inland Empire Player of the Year really turned it on in the postseason. In Centennial’s final five games, he caught 50 passes for 1,014 yards and 11 touchdowns which was kicked off by a 14-catch, 240-yard and four-touchdown performance during a 68-64 win over Serra of Gardena that saw him also return a kickoff for a score. In the loss to De La Salle, he had six catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns and he scored what turned out to be the team’s final TD of the season on a 92-yard kickoff return.
Josh Rosen (St. John Bosco, Bellflower)
He doesn’t have the mind-boggling stats of Folsom’s Jake Browning, but Rosen does have a win over De La Salle in his career and he’s considered the No. 1 QB recruit in the nation. Rosen, who just announced he’s pulling out of this year’s Under Armour All-American Game with an injury, is ranked as the nation’s No. 1 prospect overall by Rivals.com. He’s No. 12 overall and No. 1 among QBs by Scout.com and is the No. 1 QB and No. 8 overall by 24/7. Rosen passed for 3,186 yards and 29 TDs this year for the 12-2 Braves. He also rushed for 378 yards and six scores. He is heading next to UCLA.
Paul Muyskens contributed to this post. Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports