New Honor: State Defensive POY

Long Beach Poly's Iman Marshall is the first-ever Cal-Hi Sports State Defensive Player of the Year. Photos: (via Twitter) & Tom Hauck (Student Sports).

Long Beach Poly’s Iman Marshall is the first-ever Cal-Hi Sports State Defensive Player of the Year. Photos: (via Twitter) & Tom Hauck (Student Sports).

We are adding a new statewide yearly honor to our parade of them at this time of the year and it will salute the most outstanding defensive player of the year in the state. The first honoree is defensive back Iman “Biggie” Marshall of Long Beach Poly. And since Iman comes from a school that’s had numerous defensive standouts over the years, this also has spurred us to create a retroactive list of State Defensive Players of the Year, including a few from the 1960s.

To see who has been named Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year for juniors, sophomores, medium schools and small schools, CLICK HERE.

For a list of our all-time players of the year for juniors, sophomores, medium schools and small schools back to the 1920s, CLICK HERE.

To join our Gold Club so you can see those lists and many others that don’t exist anywhere else, CLICK HERE.

For info on recommended Jan. 31 speed camp at Palisades H.S. in Southern California, CLICK HERE. This event is designed for all athletes in any sport to become quicker, faster and more explosive.

With a football history as rich and long as the one at Long Beach Poly, when you hear about a young player being compared to some of the best at a particular position there than ever before, it’s more than just eye-opening. Especially when that player is just a junior.

Iman “Biggie” Marshall of the Jackrabbits is that player and he backed up preseason acclaim as being perhaps the top cover corner in the nation with an outstanding senior season. Because of that, he’s been chosen today as the first-ever Cal-Hi Sports State Defensive Player of the Year.

Our Mr. Football State Player of the Year selection has been made every year consecutively since the 1978-79 school year, but there hasn’t been a separate selection for defense until now. To see our writeup of this year’s Mr. Football winner, CLICK HERE.

Photo: Ronnie Flores.

Photo: Ronnie Flores.

Part of the reason we’re doing this now is Marshall being the choice for 2014. It got us thinking that an all-time list of previous winners, based on the various all-state first team picks we’ve made since 1980, would be very cool and not that hard to do as well.

After compiling that list, Marshall would be the fourth State Defensive Player of the Year from Long Beach Poly since 1980. The other three would be Jurrell Casey for 2007, Willie McGinest for 1989 and Mark Carrier for 1985.

The only school with more State Defensive Players of the Year would be De La Salle of Concord. The Spartans are listed with winners for 1998, 1999, 2000, 2011 and 2012.

And despite Marshall’s accolades and season performance, he was not a slam-dunk pick to be this year’s top defender. We also were quite impressed with Serra of Gardena linebacker John Houston, who shined with 147 tackles in the very tough Mission League. And Marshall’s teammate, defensive end Joseph Wicker, who had 17 ½ sacks and already has been named as the L.A. Times’ Lineman of the Year, also got a serious look.

Marshall, however, has been the Long Beach Press-Telegram’s Dream Team Defensive Player of the Year two straight years. And last year as a junior he was the choice even though St. John Bosco (which also is covered by the Long Beach paper) had several strong candidates from its 16-0 CIF Open Division state title team. Marshall didn’t have many interceptions, but only had a handful of passes completed against him throughout his entire career. He also averaged more than eight tackles per game.

“If you’re talking about high school football players, he’s 100,” Marshall’s head coach, former NFL player Antonio Pierce, told the Press-Telegram. “You’d really have to nitpick to find something about him—he’s as complete a player as there is in the country.”

In addition to defense, Marshall also was a major contributor to Poly’s offense. He was second on the team in touchdown catches and also had a punt return score. Poly finished 11-2 and No. 5 in the final Cal-Hi Sports state rankings with its only losses to No. 3 Corona Centennial and No. 4 St. John Bosco.

Recruiting was only a portion of the criteria used to determine the state defensive honor, but Marshall is perhaps the biggest name in the nation still uncommitted. He already has officially visited Notre Dame and will be visiting Florida State, Michigan, LSU and Oregon. USC (where he’s unofficially visited) still remains a favorite due to the many previous Poly players like him who’ve gone there.

Michael Hutchings would be one of five State Defensive POYS from De La Salle. Photo: Scott Kurtz.

Michael Hutchings would be one of five State Defensive POYS from De La Salle of Concord. Photo: Scott Kurtz.


2014 – Iman Marshall (Long Beach Poly) DB
2013 – Adoree Jackson (Serra, Gardena) DB
2012 – Michael Hutchings (De La Salle, Concord) LB
2011 – Michael Barton (De La Salle, Concord) LB
2010 – Viliami Moala (Grant, Sacramento) NG
2009 – Jordan Zumwalt (Edison, Huntington Beach) LB
2008 – Vontaze Burfict (Centennial, Corona) LB
2007 – Jurrell Casey (Long Beach Poly) DL
2006 – Mason Foster (Seaside) LB
2005 – Darian Hagan Jr. (Crenshaw, Los Angeles) CB
2004 – Rey Maualuga (Eureka) LB
2003 – Brigham Harwell (Los Altos, Hacienda Heights) DT
2002 – Lawrence Jackson (Inglewood) DE
2001 – Derek Landri (De La Salle, Concord) DT
2000 – Kevin Simon (De La Salle, Concord) LB
1999 – D.J. Williams (De La Salle, Concord) LB
1998 – Lance Briggs (Elk Grove) LB
1997 – Robert Thomas (Imperial) LB
1996 – Andre Carter (Oak Grove, San Jose) DE
1995 – Chris Claiborne (J.W. North, Riverside) LB
1994 – David Gates (Morse, San Diego) DT
1993 – Darrell Russell (St. Augustine, San Diego) DT
1992 – Regan Upshaw (Pittsburg) DE
1991 – LeRoi Glover (Point Loma, San Diego) DT
1990 – Jamir Miller (El Cerrito) LB
1989 – Willie McGinest (Long Beach Poly) DE
1988 – Tamasi Amituani (Vista) DT
1987 – Arnold Ale (Carson) LB
1986 – Junior Seau (Oceanside) LB
1985 – Mark Carrier (Long Beach Poly) DB
1984 – Mark Green (Poly, Riverside) DB
1983 – Ken Norton Jr. (Westchester, Los Angeles) LB
1982 – Tim McDonald (Edison, Fresno) DB
1981 – Jim McCullough (Hemet) DT
1980 – Jack Del Rio (Hayward) LB

Additional Seasons:
1978 – Michael Richardson (Compton) DB
1976 – Ronnie Lott (Eisenhower, Rialto) DB
1974 – Jerry Robinson (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) LB
1971 – Paul Kinne (Paso Robles) DB
1969 – Fred McNeill (Baldwin Park) LB
1968 – Willie Buchanon (Oceanside) DB
1967 – Jeff Siemon (Bakersfield) LB
1964 – George Buehler (Whittier) LB
1963 – Tim Rossovich (St. Francis, Mountain View) LB

Note: We’ll continue to fill in previous additional seasons in the coming years as this honor evolves

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

Enjoy this article?

Find out how you can get access to more exclusive content, one-of-a-kind California high school sports content!

Learn More


  1. Bearcats97
    Posted January 11, 2015 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Awesome to see coach Paul Kinne on this list he coached me when I played basketball the guy can still get it done today couldn’t of imagine to see him 40 years ago must of been amazing

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted February 28, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Wow, what an amazing athlete he was.

One Trackback

  1. […] at DLS, Simon scored 16 touchdowns. He was named 2000 Rivals National Defensive Player of the Year, Cal-Hi Sports’ State Defensive Player of the Year, USA Today, Parade, PrepStar, and Super Prep All-American and was rated the No. 1 linebacker in the […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


    Latest News

    Insider Blog