Foothill League coaches name FitzGerald as Player of the Year

Saugus Quarterback Colton FitzGerald, 16, passes the ball as Canyon's Casey Jimenez closes in. March 18, 2021. Bobby Block / The Signal.
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Foothill League coaches announced their choice for Player of the Year and their All-League teams recently. 

Colton FitzGerald, senior quarterback for Saugus High, finished the abbreviated five-game 2021 season by taking home Foothill League Player of the Year honors for his efforts in leading the Centurions to an undefeated season from under center. 

FitzGerald garnered the award on the strength of his 1,185 passing yards, which he threw for on 78 completions and 131 attempts, for a 59.5% completion percentage and a 122.5 quarterback rating. 

Centurions head coach Jason Bornn said he was proud of all the players who took the field for the way they stuck with the program through the pandemic, sacrificing vacation time to work out at a time when they didn’t even know if they’d be able to have a season. 

Saugus High wide receiver Hunter Girch (7) runs away from Valencia High defender Brandon Thompkins (2) to score at Valencia High School on Friday, 041621. Dan Watson/The Signal

“I’m particularly proud of Colton and Hunter (Girch), who were the catalysts of the success we had this season and were particularly deserving of the award they received,” he said, mentioning two of his seniors who were leaders. “There’s a number of names on there.” 

Girch, who was a key target for FitzGerald, earned Offensive Player of the Year, grabbing 18 receptions in five games and accumulating 384 receiving yards. His three catches for 60 yards and a touchdown on Saugus’ last game of the season were instrumental in the Cents’ 21-14 win over the Vikings that secured them their first league title in more than a decade and handed Valencia High its first league defeat in a dozen years. 

Valencia’s Jackson Stein, a senior who played nose guard, earned Defensive Player of the Year, which is no small feat for a lineman, said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. 

“As a nose guard, it’s really, really hard to dominate from the line of scrimmage,” Muir said, noting that at Stein’s position, a player is often at least double-teamed by offensive linemen from the other side, making it rare for a player at that spot to earn such an individual recognition. “He had a natural ability to just seek the ball and find the ball while fighting two or three guys. He did a terrific job for us.” 

Raysean Gilmore, a senior from Golden Valley, earned Lineman of the Year, and was a contributor for the Grizzlies on both sides of the ball. As a lineman, his key numbers were a sack and a fumble recovery, in addition to his consistent play at the line of scrimmage for the Grizzlies.

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