By Haley Sawyer,
and Dan Lovi
Signal Staff Writers
This season, Ben Seymour was all business. But although he had a no-frills approach to the game, his play never failed to excite his teammates and fans as he swatted down passes and rushed at quarterbacks and running backs.
Seymour was focused, but his opposition was often flustered. He finished the season with 10.5 sacks, the most of any Foothill League player.
“When you are rushing the quarterback you have to be relentless,” Seymour said via text message. “You know that you are not going to get him every time, but you have to try to make him uncomfortable in the pocket.”
In addition to his top-ranked sack count, he logged 27 total tackles (19 for a loss), three pass deflections, a fumble recovery and a caused fumble after switching from defensive end to linebacker prior to the season.
Seymour also scored two touchdowns against Hart. On one of the scores, Vikings quarterback Davis Cop connected with Seymour on a screen pass who then took off for a 25-yard touchdown. The play was run in honor of former player Jake Solley, who died a week prior.
His contributions defensively and offensively as a player and intangibly as a leader were crucial to the Vikings earning their 10th straight undefeated league title, especially when the team was dealing with the transfer of 2017 All-SCV Player of the Year Mykael Wright and death of former Vikings Solley and Christian Nsubuga.
“This year I was named captain and I really tried to better myself as a leader,” Seymour said. “This year was tough on everyone because of all the things that happened with Mykael, Christian and Jake. But at the same time, we were trying to prepare ourselves to win the 10-Peat. So it was a challenge to keep the team focused on what we wanted to accomplish this year.”
After accomplishing the 10-Peat with a win over West Ranch, Valencia advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, where they fell to eventual state champions Mater Dei in the first round.
Seymour learned a lot from an eventful 2018 season and hopes that Valencia continues to uphold the traditions and standards that comprise Viking football.
“My advice for the Valencia underclassmen is to invest in your teammates,” he said. “Valencia is all about playing for the man next to you. The best teams that I’ve been on play selflessly. I would also say to enjoy your time at Valencia because it flies by.”
1st Team All-Defense
Zachary Van Bennekum, West Ranch, Junior, LB
A two-year varsity starter, Van Bennekum was all over the field for West Ranch this season and was part of the reason why the Wildcats had their best campaign in program history. He finished the year with a league-best 92 total tackles (66 solo), four sacks and 12 tackles for loss. He also had two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, a pass deflection and a blocked field goal.
Van Bennekum also featured as a tight end, recording four catches for 58 yards and a touchdown. In West Ranch’s opening playoff game against Silverado, he converted two two-point conversions.
Derrese Morganfield II, Golden Valley, Senior, LB
While Golden Valley had a down season, Morganfield II was one of the bright spots for the Grizzlies. The 6-foot, 210-pound linebacker was in on almost every tackle, logging 91 total (43 solo), which was 46 more tackles than his next teammate. He added one sack and five tackles for loss, plus one interception.
JimE DeYoung, Valencia, Junior, LB
His first season with the Vikings was memorable, as DeYoung was constantly in the opposing team’s backfield and served as one of the Vikings’ primary run-stoppers. He recorded 17 tackles for loss, six sacks and had five quarterback hurries. He also scored Valencia’s lone touchdown against Mater Dei in the opening game of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
Josh Doyle, Valencia, Senior, DB
Doyle certainly had a nose for the ball this season, leading the Foothill League with five interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown. He averaged 10.6 return yards per interception. The 5-foot-11 defensive back often guarded the opposing team’s best receiver and was rarely beaten on routes. He had three pass deflections and one fumble recovery.
Matthew Ballentine, Saugus, Senior, DB
Ballentine played both ways for Saugus, but it was his work on defense that really stood out in 2018. The lengthy defensive back was exceptional at winning jump balls and finished the season with four interceptions including one returned for a touchdown. He averaged 28.5 return yards per interception. Ballentine also had 43 tackles (25 solo), one tackle for loss and one pass deflection. On offense he had 11 receptions for 208 yards and four touchdowns.
Devin Thompson, Saugus, Senior, DB
Another two-way player for Saugus, Thompson was effective whether he lined up man-to-man or as a safety. He was particularly good at blitzing as a safety, often stopping the opposing team’s running back before he could gain any yards. The 6-foot, 200-pound senior finished the season with 50 tackles (22 solo), two tackles for loss and a sack. He tied with Ballentine for a team-high four interceptions including two returned for touchdowns. He also forced a fumble and had two fumble recoveries.
On offense he had 15 receptions for 197 yards and two touchdowns, four carries for 25 yards and a touchdown and also caught a pass for a two-point conversion.
Justice Forbes, Valencia, Senior, DL
The Vikings’ interior defensive lineman was practically unblockable this season as he used his 6-foot 240-pound frame to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines. Teams struggled to stop him if they didn’t double him, which even then didn’t work at times as he used strength to power through. He finished the season with eight tackles for loss, three sacks and three quarterback hurries.
Dylan Vradenburg, Hart, Sophomore, DE
One of only four sophomores on Hart’s varsity roster, Vradenburg made a huge impact in his first year with the Indians varsity squad. The 6-foot-3 defensive end is deceptively quick for a player his size and was often seen chasing down opposing running backs and quarterbacks. He finished the season with 52 tackles (18 solo) and five sacks in 10 games. He also had an interception and recorded a safety. He is one of the rising young edge rushers in the Foothill League.
Carson Smith, Saugus, Senior, DE
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound defensive end was a force on Saugus’ D-line. His huge frame was an obstacle for opposing offenses as he often required double teams and was adept at batting down balls at the line of scrimmage. He was second in the Foothill League with nine sacks, had 12 tackles for loss and 42 total tackles (17 solo). He had three pass deflections, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery, which he returned for a touchdown. He had four receptions on offense, two of which went for touchdowns.
Robert Brymer, Valencia, Senior, DE
Standing at 5-foot-11, Brymer might be slightly undersized for a defensive end but that didn’t prevent him from putting up big numbers for Valencia this year. The senior edge rusher was constantly able to break through to the opposing team’s backfield by utilizing a number of different maneuvers, including using speed to blow past offensive linemen or sheer power. He finished the season with nine tackles for loss, four sacks and six quarterback hurries.
Aaron Rodriguez, Hart, Senior, P
Hart’s kicker and punter extraordinaire was great at pinning the opposing team’s in their own territory with a high hang time. He punted 26 times in 11 games for a total of 988 yards, an average of 38 yards per punt. His longest punt went for 40 yards.
2nd Team All-Defense
Myles Garrett, Saugus, Senior, LB
Across 12 games, Garrett led the Centurions in tackles with 83 and had 23 of the solo variety as well as three tackles for a loss. He recorded a sack for a loss of 14 yards and caused two fumbles.
Owen Hand, Valencia, Junior, LB
As part of a bruising defense that allowed 56 points in Foothill League play, Hand had 15 tackles for a loss and two sacks. He also had an interception, a pass deflection and a caused fumble.
Blake Adams, Saugus, Senior, LB
Adams was second on the team, behind Myles Garrett, in terms of tackles with 81 and recorded 11 tackles for a loss. He hauled in three interceptions for a total of 45 yards and recovered four fumbles.
Ashton Thomas, Hart, Junior, DB
Thomas had two interceptions and had a total of 26 tackles with 16 solo tackles. He also contributed on offense with 490 receiving yards and 73 rushing yards.
Henry Vera, Canyon, Senior, DB
Vera aggressively pursued his targets every night and stuck to them until the pass was broken up or he executed the tackle.
Mitchell Torres, Valencia, Junior, DB
A dual-sport athlete who plays baseball in addition to football, Torres recorded four tackles for a loss in addition to two sacks in nine games. He also had one interception and one pass deflection.
Jacob Jaramillo, Hart, Senior, DE
Averaging 3.7 tackles per game, Jaramillo finished the season with 37 total tackles. He added two sacks to set himself up for a solid senior year with the Indians.
Pablo Duran, Golden Valley, Junior, DL
Duran tied for first on the team in tackles for a loss with five and had 21 total tackles. He had the most sacks out of all the Grizzlies with three.
Gaetano Ferrera, Saugus, Senior, DL
Ferrera ranked second on the team in sacks with four for a total loss of 33 yards. He logged two pass deflections, one fumble recovery and one caused fumble and finished the season with 39 total tackles with six for a loss.
Brayden York, Hart, Junior, DT
York tied Dylan Vradenburg for most sacks on the team this season with five and chipped in 33 tackles in eight games. He also recovered two fumbles.
Luke Fowble, Valencia, Senior, P
In nine games, Fowble punted 49 times for a total of 1,919 yards. He averaged 39.2 yards per punt with a long of 47 yards. Fifteen of his punts landed beyond the 20-yard line.
1st Team All-Purpose
Jacob Montes, Hart, Senior, WR/LB
Montes led the Indians in receptions (65) and in receiving yards (815) and tied for third with five total touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, Montes was a nightmare at linebacker, finishing his senior season with 75 total tackles (31 solo), three interceptions, two caused fumbles and four fumble recoveries.
Luring Paialii, Valencia, Senior, LB/RB
Tied for the most touchdowns scored (11) and third in total tackles (19) on a potent Vikings squad, Paialii did a little bit of everything this season for the 10-time Foothill League champs. Rushing 68 times for 344 yards, Paialii averaged 5.1 yards-per-carry, caught five passes for 32 yards and completed his only pass attempt for six yards in 10 games played. Defensively, Paialii recorded 16 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks while causing and recovering two fumbles.
Johnathan Kaelin, Golden Valley, Junior, WR/DB/RB
Playing wide receiver, running back and defensive back, Kaelin rarely came off the field for the Grizzlies. Recording 45 total tackles (26 solo) and two tackles for loss, Kaelin finished second on the Grizzlies in tackles. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound athlete had a team-high 15 total touchdowns (nine rushing and six receiving) and a two-point conversion to finish the year with 302 yards on the ground and 526 receiving. He also returned eight kickoffs for 133 yards and one punt for 14 yards.
2nd Team All-Purpose
Tyler Walker, Golden Valley, Junior, RB/DB
In his second year playing varsity, Walker carried the ball 62 times for 349 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for four yards. He also returned nine kickoffs for 203 yards. Defensively, Walker recorded 18 total tackles (11 solo) and one interception.
Michael Colangelo, Hart, Senior, WR/DB
Colangelo finished her senior year catching 40 passes for 434 yards and eight touchdowns, rushed two times for seven yards and returned one kickoff for a 99-yard touchdown. He recorded 28 total tackles (11 solo) and three pass deflections on defense for the Indians.
Carson Strickland, Canyon, Senior, WR/DB/RB
Strickland rushed 40 times for 241 yards and three touchdowns and caught 18 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns in five games played, according to MaxPreps.com