2016 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Team of the Year: The Players & Coach of the Year from The 209

Filed in Uncategorized by on December 24, 2016

We selected the 2016 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Team of the Year the weekend of the State Bowl series, rolling our our Players of the Year and First- & Second-Team selections one at a time to spotlight each of our stars. Each player also receives a Starbucks first card ($20 for our MVPS & 1st Team picks, $5 for 2nd Team picks) and a Starbucks/Black Hat Football Team of the Year patch for their letterman’s jacket – or for the scrap book.

After debuting the team last weekend, we’ll package it for easier viewing this Christmas Weekend.

We start with our 2016 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Players & Coach of the Year for The 209:

THE 209 PLAYER OF THE YEAR

RB WILL SEMONE, OAKDALE (Valley Oak League) 

It’s difficult to say much more about Oakdale’s prolific runner.

He finished third in the state with 2,851 yards rushing – despite missing 2-plus games to injury this season – and scored  state-record 6 TDs in Oakdale’s 47-0 rout of previously Bishop’s-La Jolla in the Division 3-A State Bowl.Like all our of First Teamers and MVP picks, Semone earns a $20 Starbucks gift card! Our Second Teamers receive $5 gift cards.

Semone ran for 219 yards and 6 TDs on his 28 carries in the Bowl win, giving him a record-setting season rushing total  for both Oakdale High and Stanislaus County. He also ran for 1,684 yards in his six playoff games this year – gaining at least 200 yards in every game – and  scored 34 touchdowns this season for the 14-2 Mustangs.

THE 209 OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

WR CUTRELL HAYWOOD, STAGG-STOCKTON (Tri-City Athletic League)

The 6-foot-1, 155-pounder was a highlight reel every time he took the field, racing through secondaries and making all sort of catches for the Delta Kings. Haywood was a First Team  Starbucks/Black Hat receiver as a junior, and he absolutely exploded this season.

Haywood caught an even 100 passes for 1,644 yards and a whopping 22 touchdowns in just 11 games. Even though his team had just one playoff game, Haywood still finished as the Sac-Joaquin Section leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns.

He also finished fourth in the state in receptions, fourth in yards and third in TDs.

Haywood caught 17 passes for 211 yards and 4 TDs in 1 35-32 loss to D3 finalist Christian Brothers, and 13 catches for 192 yards and 2 TDs to help beat McNair 46-35 for the SJAA title.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

LB NOEL-JOHNSON, TURLOCK (Central California Conference)

The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder was the 2015 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Defensive Player of the Year after a spectacular junior season. then he followed it up with an even more impressive senior year to repeat as The 209’s Defensive Player of the Year.

He was in on 102 tackles while leading Turlock’s aggressive defense, helping the Bulldogs to their first conference title in two decades. He had 34.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and he also caught six passes for 111 yards and 3 TDs.

LINEMAN OF THE YEAR

POPO AUMAVAE, ST. MARY’S-STOCKTON (Tri-City Athletic League) 

Popo Aumavae

The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder is The 209’s star recruit and has a verbal commitment to Oregon and led his Rams to the State Division 1-AA Bowl Game before they fell in overtime to Cathedral Catholic-San Diego.

Aumavae has been a 3-year beast for the Rams, who are 14-1 and have been ranked No. 2 in Northern California much of this season. He was a two-way terror for foes, using his immense size and mobility to clear paths for prolific RB Dusty Frampton and protecting QB Jake Dunniway. He was a first-team offensive lineman on the 2015 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Team.

LARGE SCHOOL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

DB/RB DEVAN BASS, PITMAN-TURLOCK (Central California Conference)

The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder was one of The 209’s top playmakers, carrying the Pride through the season and to the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Division 1 playoffs. Only a loss to St. Mary’s, a game that was razor-thin at halftime, ended the Pride’s season and Bass’ high school career. He ran for 1,036 yards and 14 TDs, including TD runs of 69 and 62 yards; He averaged 8.3 yards a carry and he had a season-high 161 yards on just 12 carries in a playoff win over Monterey Trail.

He caught 19 passes for 398 yards – averaging 21 yards a carry – and scored 4 TDs. One of those scores was a 60-yard that beat Merced on the final moments of a CCC showdown, and his 43-yard catch set up a last-second score to beat Lincoln. He also returned punts 63 and 60 yards for touchdowns, and returned a fumble for a TD. He also was one of the 209’s elite DBs.

SMALL SCHOOL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

DB/SLOT KANE RODGERS, SONORA (Mother Lode League)

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound junior was the 2015 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Underclassmen of the Year after a stunning

debut as a sophomore, and he was even better this fall. He shared the league MVP award and has another season to play in The 209. Here is his 2016 season:

He ran for 859 yards and 17 TDs, while averaging 12.3 yards per carry; In the Wildcats’ 2 playoff games, Rodgers had 15 carries for 271 yards and 4 TDs; He caught 9 passes for 317 yards ad 5 TDs, averaging 35 yards per reception; He hadTD catches of 63, 76 and 91 yards; He was in on 114 tackles, and also had 5 interceptions. He finished with 23 total TDs.

THE 209 COACH OF THE YEAR

OAKDALE’S TRENT MERZON

He’s become a legend, not only in Oakdale but across the state, with his old-school Wing-T attack that he occasionally adapts to exploit a running quarterback or an athletic receiver. Last year’s squad reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 final before losing to eventual state champion Central Catholic, and Oakdale suffered staggering graduation losses last spring.

The emergence of RB Will Semone and an aggressive defense set the tone for a program that rolled through the Section playoffs and then overwhelmed Sutter in the second half of last week’s NorCal Bowl.

Aside from Semone, Merzon developed a backfield that included senior Cameron Cherry and junior Bronson Harmon, with QB Marc Dickson occasionally throwing. This was old-school Oakdale football, with the Mustangs showing amazing patience with their running game. Oakdale finished 14-2 after beating Bishops 47-0 in the Division 3-A State Bowl — the school’s first State Bowl title.

About the Author ()

Richard T. Estrada has been covering high school football in The 209 area code for more than 30 years and is the voice of authority on the game in California's Central Valley. He oversaw The Modesto Bee's high school sports coverage for a couple of decades, and also was a national award-winning business and agriculture writer. Black Hat Football not only covers the game, but emphasizes education and the need for The 209's student-athletes to prepare for college.

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