Jax Leatherwood: Grid-Hoop State POY

State Grid-Hoop Player of Year Jax Leatherwood is shown during two celebrations for San Diego Scripps Ranch CIF state titles during the 2021-22 school year. Photos: Mark Tennis.

It’s just too hard to beat a grid-hooper like the junior quarterback-power forward from Scripps Ranch of San Diego, who played key roles on football and basketball teams that both won CIF state titles. Leatherwood adds this statewide honor to already being named as the San Diego Union-Tribune Male Athlete of the Year.

Note: We’ve been selecting grid-hoop all-state teams since the 1986-1987 school year when the San Diego Section Player of the Year in both sports, Junior Seau, was named Grid-Hoop State Player of the Year. Since the immortal Seau was selected, other combo athletes we’ve honored as Grid-Hoop POY include Willie McGinest, Tony Gonzalez, Marcedes Lewis and Matt Barnes. We have archived all of our previous Grid-Hoop all-state teams for easy reference. To access those, you need to be a member of our Gold Club. It’s a great deal and it’s a great time to join our team by CLICKING HERE.

To view the 15-man 2021-22 Grid-Hoop All-State Team, CLICK HERE (Gold Club).

To go straight to our Gold Club archive of all previous 15-member Grid-Hoop All-State Teams,CLICK HERE.

It was fun recently seeing Scripps Ranch of San Diego football quarterback Jax Leatherwood at the Southern California Elite 11 regional camp. The first two times he was watched it came in CIF state championship games in which Scripps Ranch won both times, first in the CIF D2-A state final in football and later in the CIF D4 state final in basketball.

That fact was mentioned to him at the camp, but just like the competitive athlete that he is he expressed disappointment that there wasn’t a third.

“Man, I was hoping we’d go further in volleyball,” he said. “We got to the regionals and lost.”

Still, Leatherwood’s accomplishments in football and basketball were enough as he’s now been selected as the Cal-Hi Sports Grid-Hoop State Player of the Year for the 2021-22 school year.

Leatherwood certainly will not be the unknown factor this fall as the Scripps Ranch QB like he was at the start of the 2021 season. Photo: Mark Tennis.

It’s been an amazing upward ride for the 6-foot-8, 215-pound athlete. Just a year ago, it was just becoming clear to Scripps Ranch head football coach Marlon Gardinera (the 2021 State Coach of the Year) that Jax would be able to handle the starting role as quarterback of his team. Leatherwood went from being relatively unknown outside local circles to one of the most intriguing and prolific quarterbacks in the state.

With just one regular season loss to Mira Mesa of San Diego, Leatherwood and running back teammate Jalen Shaw wound up leading the Falcons to the CIF San Diego Section D2 title in a 42-0 win over La Jolla. That put them into the CIF SoCal D2-A regional final against Valencia in which Leatherwood passed for 442 yards and five TDs in a 45-38 shootout win. Up next was the CIF state final against hard-running Wilcox of Santa Clara. Leatherwood needed to drive his team in the final minutes of the game for a touchdown to win and he got it on a throw to Dean Paley that held up for a 31-28 win.

For the season, Jax finished with 3,915 yards and 52 TDs. He completed 68.5 percent of his passes and was only intercepted twice.

The CIF basketball state title was even more of a surprise to Leatherwood and his teammates. A late start for himself and fellow all-state grid-hooper Lamont Wilkerson was eventually overcome and the Falcons started winning games down the stretch. Unlike in football, Scripps didn’t win the section title (lost to San Dieguito Academy), but took advantage of being a runner-up and was in a winnable CIF D4 SoCal regional bracket. The Falcons won in their regional final against Valley Torah of Valley Village and topped Justin-Siena of Napa, 46-37, in the state final.

On the court, Leatherwood wasn’t a scorer (season average of just 6.9 points per game), but his quickness, size and hands was very disruptive as an inside force and rim protector. He had 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks in the regional final and then in the state final at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center he had eight blocks to go with seven points and six rebounds.

Jax could have called it a year after that state final in Sacramento, but he still had volleyball to do and kept going. He was first team All-CIF San Diego Section in that sport and led the Falcons with 220 kills. As a team, they lost in the first round of the CIF SoCal D2 playoffs to Upland. The San Diego Union-Tribune had him as its Boys Athlete of the Year. The state athletes of the year honors for Cal-Hi Sports are still to come. Leatherwood would be up for the juniors and for medium schools.

With his size, intelligence (he has a 4.3 GPA) and improving body strength, being a football quarterback does seem to be in Leatherwood’s future. He does have D1 scholarship offers and has committed to the University of Nevada.

As for the grid-hoop honor, Jax is just the fifth ever from the San Diego Section since the first year of the selections began in 1979-80. The others are Junior Seau of Oceanside (1987), Teyo Johnson of Mira Mesa (2000), Nelson Rosario of Oceanside El Camino (2008) and Victor Dean of Lincoln (2010).

“Both state championships were rewarding,” Leatherwood told the Union-Tribune. “It was great to see all the hard work by all the guys pay off. We bonded as a team in both sports. Winning in football was amazing. … We got to play in a pro arena (Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center ) in basketball. That was spectacular.”

Cal-Hi Sports Grid-Hoop
State Players of the Year

Ben Yurosek, the honoree from two years ago, is coming off a fantastic sophomore year as a tight end at Stanford. Photo: TheFieldToday / Twitter.com.

2021-22 – Jax Leatherwood, San Diego Scripps Ranch
2020-21 – No Selection (pandemic)
2019-20 – Ben Yurosek, Bakersfield Christian
2018-19 – Jaxen Turner, Moreno Valley Rancho Verde
2017-18 – Jeremiah Martin, San Bernardino Cajon
2016-17 – Niamey Harris, San Francisco Mission
2015-16 – Jamal Hicks, Harbor City Narbonne
2014-15 – Justice Shelton-Mosley,
Sacramento Capital Christian
2013-14 – Alex Van Dyke, Elk Grove Cosumnes Oaks
2012-13 – Max Redfield, Mission Viejo
2011-12 – William Stallworth, Tulare
2010-11 – William Stallworth, Tulare (Jr.)
2009-10 – Victor Dean, San Diego Lincoln
2008-09 – James Boyd, Los Angeles Jordan
2007-08 – Nelson Rosario, Oceanside El Camino
2006-07 – Rob Jones, San Francisco Riordan
2005-06 – David Ausberry, Lemoore
2004-05 – Danny Williams, Los Angeles Fremont
2003-04 – Marcus Everett, West Hills Chaminade
2002-03 – Steve Smith, Woodland Hills Taft
2001-02 – Marcedes Lewis, Long Beach Poly
2000-01 – Antwon Guidry, San Jose Leigh
1999-00 – Teyo Johnson, San Diego Mira Mesa
1998-99 – Josh Shavies, Oakland Fremont
1997-98 – Matt Barnes, Fair Oaks Del Campo
1996-97 – Jason Thomas, Compton Dominguez (Jr.)
1995-96 – Chris Claiborne, Riverside J.W. North
1994-95 – Johnnie Sanders, Los Angeles Franklin
1993-94 – Tony Gonzalez, Huntington Beach
1992-93 – Stais Boseman, Inglewood Morningside
1991-92 – Stais Boseman, Inglewood Morningside (Jr.)
1990-91 – Rob Johnson, El Toro
1989-90 – Willie McGinest, Long Beach Poly
1988-89 – Shante Carver, Stockton Lincoln
1987-88 – Eric Bamberger, Concord Ygnacio Valley
1986-87 – Junior Seau, Oceanside
1985-86 – Dan McGwire, Claremont
1984-85 – Michael Johnson, Baldwin Park
1983-84 – Jerald Jones, Vallejo
1982-83 – John Paye, Atherton Menlo School
1981-82 – Reggie Rogers, Sacramento Norte Del Rio
1980-81 – Jack Del Rio, Hayward
1979-80 – Don Rogers, Sacramento Norte Del Rio

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

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