Having covered prep football for more than two decades for the Pasadena Star-News, Glendale News-Press, Los Angeles Times (Valley Section), and several weeklies, I’ve seen my share of outstanding players whose brilliance spilled over to college, and a few the NFL like Kyle Boller, who starred at Hart High, UC Berkeley, and had a nine-year career that included stops with the Baltimore Ravens, St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders.
This past season had more than its share of eye-popping talent, with the best being Norwalk’s Rashaad Penny, a junior tailback who ran for 1,872 yards with 30 touchdowns, while catching 12 passes for 383 yards and seven scores.
Penny led the Lancers to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs, where they were nipped by Downey, 45-42.
A Division I college prospect, Penny is powerful enough to run over defenders, and fast enough to run past them.
A notch below Penny is Burbank sophomore running back James Williams, who rushed for 1,443 yards with 17 touchdowns, and paced the Bulldogs to a playoff appearance.
Williams, who caught 11 passes for 101 yards, is still learning the game, and when he does is going to be something special.
Crescenta Valley’s William Wang was steady, as the senior rambled for 1,356 yards and 11 scores.
Had the Falcons, who finished 5-5, qualified for the postseason, Wang would have garnered even more attention.
Hoover senior Jesse Pina was tough and sturdy, and even though he was kicked off the team some time ago, managed to get in the good graces of Head Coach Andrew Policky.
Pina was the Tornadoes’ primary offensive weapon as he accounted for 329 yards on the ground with five touchdowns, and grabbed eight passes worth 111 yards for a team that went 3-7.
The same holds true for Glendale senior Michael Davis, who played wide receiver. Davis, a sprinter on the track team who signed with Brigham Young University, caught 33 passes for 409 yards with three touchdowns, and picked up 258 rushing yards with two scores.
Muir’s Joshua Muema-Washington was the best quarterback in the area as he pushed the Mustangs to the second round of the playoffs.
Though Pasadena’s Brandon Cox missed most of the season with a broken foot, he was still offered a football scholarship by the University of Arizona.