Champs dominate All-League picks

Friday, December 19, 2003 That means there are an awful lot of football players who deserved All-League recognition, and one look at the postseason rosters sees those teams heavily populated with players from the three most successful programs.

Both Eureka and Ferndale had eight players named to the All-League team, while St. Bernard's saw five Crusaders receive the honor.

Sam Vainuku and Mo Purify, two of the biggest reasons the Loggers completed an undefeated championship season, were named MVPs in the Big Five.

Vainuku played both running back and safety, and he and Purify, who played wide receiver and cornerback, along with fellow All-League teammate Rey Maualuga, returned kickoffs and punts.

The Logger defense is well-represented, as that unit -- one that can certainly be argued as the catalyst for the championship run -- saw a total of seven players named to the All-League team.

Joining Vainuku, Purify and Maualuga, were linebacker Steve Swanson, defensive tackles Darren Allen and Marcus Coleman, and defensive end/placekicker Jack Senicola.

Logger senior Josh Larson was named the All-League quarterback, the only Logger who was named solely as an offensive player.

Head coach Jack Lakin had praise for the entire Logger team, but recognized the excellence of his defensive side.

"For the coaches at Eureka, these choices were the hardest decisions we've had to make in a long time," he said. "An argument could have been made to nominate the entire defense for the effort they put forth. It's a good situation, but a tough one when you can only pick out eight guys."

The Eureka defense, the single most dominant unit in the area this past fall, was well-represented because that's what Eureka focuses on at the beginning of each season.

"For the past few seasons we have set up our team to where defense is the strength," Lakin said. "We went into this season looking for our defense to carry us early and we had superior defense throughout the season."

Ferndale's near-perfect season earned the Wildcats the high number of players selected -- eight -- with fullback/linebacker Adam Bugenig and lineman Orrin Goldsby being named league MVPs.

Travis Gothier, Travis Michel, Zach Sapp, Brandon "Doc" Holliday, Ian Renner and Paul Dolfini were the other Ferndale players named to the All-League team.

Head coach Kim Jorgensen was quick to point out that the effectiveness of Goldsby and Bugenig had much more to it than scoring touchdowns.

"The way those two guys played on both sides of the line was a main reason a lot of other guys were getting big yardage," he said. "I think it's a tribute to them all for the work they put in. It speaks to their willingness to work."

St. Bernard's, which at one point in the season was 2-4, saw five members of its Class B title team named to the Little Four team, Joe Davis, Billy Rakestraw, Hawk Obie, David Williams and Joseph Comer.

Crusader coach Mike Mari pointed out how difficult it can be to make all-league selections.

"The hardest spot for a coach to be in is to pick only five kids," he said. "It was such a team effort towards the end of the year, but it's obvious that the guys selected all earned their spots, and I am just glad the kids are recognized for their efforts this season."

Del Norte was just behind Eureka with six players named to the Big Five team. Jake Crager, Turner Crager, Kendall Giddings, Cody Fletcher, Joe Larson and Chris Jackson were all recognized for their fine seasons.

Fortuna saw four players named to the All-League team, led by running back/linebacker Nick Pinkerton. Offensive linemen Dustin Beagle, running back Tyson Stone and defensive lineman Dallas Gardner were the other Huskies honored.

Arcata saw two of its players named All-League, as running backs Josh Coleman and Jackson Kircher earned the honors.

McKinleyville also had two players named, running back Travis Pederson, and the Panther's quiet tough guy, Greg Turner were honored.

South Fork and Hoopa filled out the Little Four rosters as the Cubs had Nick LaRue, A. J. Moore, Dan Sheldon and Tommy Sarver earn All-League spots.

The Warriors had Travis Bilzing and Ryan Hanger earn spots.