State Defensive POY: Deven Bryant

St. John Bosco linebacker adds a statewide honor to two big more local ones that he’s already received. He’s also the first-ever State Defensive POY from his school, but the third in a row from the Trinity League.

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In this current era of dominance in the state by the programs at St. John Bosco of Bellflower and Mater Dei of Santa Ana, it’s been offensive players who’ve received most of the top postseason honors — until the last three seasons.

Leading the St. John Bosco defense in tackles for two years in a row says a lot about the abilities of linebacker Deven Bryant. Photo:

After Raesjon Davis and David Bailey of Mater Dei gained State Defensive Player of the Year honors for the 2021 spring season and the 2021 fall season, this time in 2022 the top honor goes to St. John Bosco senior linebacker Deven Bryant. He is the Braves’ first-ever State Defensive Player of the Year and joins a stellar group from the Long Beach/Compton/Bellflower region that includes many of the NFL players from Long Beach Poly (the latest Iman Marshall of the Jackrabbits for 2014).

It just had to be a Bosco defender getting the top spot after what many observers felt was one of the best defenses (top-to-bottom) in state history. The 45-0 shutout of San Mateo Serra in the CIF Open Division state final was just the final topping. The issue after the final game on a unit that was so balanced was which of the Braves should be considered “the guy.”

Bryant was a contender as a returning first team all-state junior from 2021. He was the team’s leading tackler, but that team lost in the CIF Southern Section D1 semifinals to Servite of Anaheim. This season, Deven was the leading tackler once again with more than 100.

That issue of which Bosco players should be considered the highest for postseason honors was a topic at the CIF state finals themselves among those in the media. It was always going to be a tough call. The coaches, including head coach Jason Negro, were going to have to be asked to provide some input.

Deven obviously was one of the favorites for what he did on the field, but also for what he did off of the field as a team leader. He’s also a great representative of the program since he wanted to be part of it since he was in junior high and stayed with it through COVID and through the end.

Two honors that Bryant already has received show how much he impressed his coaches and other reporters this season: Long Beach Press-Telegram Player of the Year (including offensive players) and Los Angeles Times Back of the Year.

As a college prospect, there are a few others on the Bosco team that had higher rankings, but Deven isn’t exactly going to be a walk-on, either. He will play next at the University of Washington.

“Bryant was the heart and soul of the Braves’ defense that many think was their best in school history,” said 247Sports analyst Greg Biggins. “He may not have high level physical traits in terms of size and athleticism but makes up for it with his football instincts, motor and toughness. He’s a natural leader and should be a future captain in college.”

Some up in Washington reported that Deven was the Back of the Year for the entire state of California by the L.A. Times. Not true. But what is true is that he’s the Defensive Player of the Year for the entire state of California.


David Bailey collects one of the 15.5 sacks that he had during 2021 season for Mater Dei. Photo: @MDFootball /

2022 — Deven Bryant (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) LB
2021 — David Bailey (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) LB
2020 — Raesjon Davis (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) LB*
2019 — Justin Flowe (Upland) LB
2018 — Henry To’oto’o (De La Salle, Concord) LB
2017 — Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oaks Christian, Westlake Village) DL (Jr.)
2016 — Jaelen Phillips
(Redlands East Valley, Redlands) DL
2015 — Oluwole Betiku (Serra, Gardena) DL
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 — Viliami Moala (Grant, Sacramento) NG (Jr.)
2008 — Vontaze Burfict (Centennial, Corona) LB
2007 — Jurrell Casey (Long Beach Poly, Long Beach) DL
2006 — Chris Galippo (Servite, Anaheim) LB
2005 — Darian Hagan Jr. (Crenshaw, Los Angeles) CB
2004 — Luthur Brown (Lakewood) 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 — D.J. Williams (De La Salle, Concord) LB (Jr.)
1997 — Robert Thomas (Imperial) LB
1996 — Andre Carter (Oak Grove, San Jose) DE
1995 — Chris Claiborne (J.W. North, Riverside) LB
1994 — Clyde Sanders (Grant, Sacramento) DE
1993 — Darrell Russell (St. Augustine, San Diego) DT
1992 — Travis Kirschke (Esperanza, Anaheim) DT
1991 — LeRoi Glover (Point Loma, San Diego) DT
1990 — Jamir Miller (El Cerrito) LB
1989 — Willie McGinest (Long Beach Poly, Long Beach) DE
1988 — Tommie Smith (Antelope Valley, Lancaster) DB
1987 — Arnold Ale (Carson) LB
1986 — Scott Ross (El Toro) LB
1985 — Randy Austin (Canyon, Canyon Country) LB
1984 — Mark Green (Poly, Riverside) DB
1983 — Chance Johnson (Compton) DB
1982 — Tim McDonald (Edison, Fresno) DB
1981 — George Ebertin (Bellarmine, San Jose) LB
1980 — Jack Del Rio (Hayward) LB
1979 — Darrell Hooper (Carson) DB
1978 — Michael Richardson (Compton) DB
1977 — Chuck Willig (St. Paul, Santa Fe Springs) DB
1976 — Dennis Smith (Santa Monica) DB
1975 — John Van Buren (South Hills, Covina) DB
1974 — Jerry Robinson (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) NG
1973 — Frank Manumaluena (Banning, Wilmington) LB
1972 — Lonnie Shelton (Foothill, Bakersfield) DL
1971 — Paul Kinne (Paso Robles) DB

1970 — Fred McNeill (Baldwin Park) LB
1969 — Artimus Parker (Sacramento) LB
1968 — Willie Buchanon (Oceanside) DB

1967 — Jeff Siemon (Bakersfield) LB

1966 — Mel Gray (Montgomery, Santa Rosa) DB
1965 — John Albanese (Bellarmine, San Jose) LB
1964 — George Buehler (Whittier) LB

1963 — Tim Rossovich (St. Francis, Mountain View) LB
1962 — George Wilfert (Bellarmine, San Jose) DL
1961 — Ted Norlund (Lowell, San Francisco) DL
1960 — Rich Koeper (Sequoia, Redwood City) DL

*Spring of 2021 season due to COVID.

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

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