In each of the last three years, the Star has selected an offensive and defensive Player of the Year for football. This year is no different.
Offensive Player of the Year: Cameron Denson.
Defensive Player of the Year: Cameron Denson.
The only player who can cover Cameron Denson: Cameron Denson.
Denson, a two-way star for state champ Salpointe Catholic, was by far the best player in Southern Arizona on both sides of the ball and arguably the best player in the state. While several others could be considered in that debate, no one else has the résumé that Denson does.
The 6-foot-1-inch Arizona Wildcats commit was a huge part in helping the Lancers go 14-0 and win their first state title. He scored almost every way possible this year – the only thing he didn’t do was account for a safety. He finished the season with 32 total touchdowns, not including the three he passed for.
The best game in Denson’s storied four-year career with Salpointe was definitely the final one, a 46-20 win over Scottsdale Chaparral in the Division II state championship game when he had an 84-yard kick return for a touchdown and caught seven passes for 148 yards and two scores, including a 98-yard touchdown reception that electrified the crowd at Arizona Stadium. Chances are, it won’t be the last time he does that.
- QB: Andrew Cota, Sr., Salpointe Catholic:
- The four-year starter completed 67 percent of passes for 2,748 yards and 35 touchdowns with just two interceptions this year. He also ran for 15 scores and averaged 6.3 yards a carry.
- RB: Richie Estrada, Sr., Mountain View:
- Estrada powered the Mountain Lions to the state playoffs for the second straight year and was the area’s top rusher with 1,739 yards and 13 touchdowns on 227 carries.
- RB: Ty Cruz, Sr., Catalina Foothills:
- A four-year starter, Cruz was hard for opponents to bring down. He rushed for 1,346 yards and 23 scores on just 134 carries to help the Falcons reach the state playoffs.
- WR: Cole Sterns, Sr., Sahuaro:
- Sterns caught at least one touchdown in all but one game and had seven games with more than 100 yards receiving on his way to finishing with 1,168 yards and 16 scores on 61 catches.
- WR: Kaelin Deboskie, Sr., Salpointe Catholic:
- Possibly the speediest receiver in the area, Deboskie gave Salpointe’s air game a huge boost, hauling in 55 catches for 954 yards and 15 scores.
- WR/RB: J.J. Metz, Sr., Canyon del Oro:
- Metz was a do-it-all player on offense for the Dorados, setting school records with 35.4 yards a catch, 12 touchdown receptions and a 99-yard scoring play.
- TE: Matt Bushman, Sr., Sabino:
- Bushman, a BYU commit, put up some huge numbers, hauling in 63 balls for 1,583 yards and 26 touchdowns. He was easily the best tight end in the state.
- OL: Andrew Mike, Sr., Sabino:
- Mike, a 6-foot-5-inch 285-pound left tackle with 15 scholarship offers, was one of the best in the state and helped the Sabercats reach the state quarterfinals.
- OL: Breeon Auzenne, Sr., Salpointe Catholic:
- The 6-5, 300-pound Auzenne anchored one of the best offensive lines in the state, which cleared the way for more than 5,700 yards of total offense.
- OL: Kyle Jividen, Sr., Sahuaro:
- The 6-3, 265-pound heavyweight wrestling state champion provided plenty of protection for Sahuaro QB Laramie Brown, who threw for 2,031 yards and 25 TDs.
- OL: Austin Weaver, Sr., Salpointe Catholic:
- Weaver, a 6-2, 245-pound team captain, could dominate on either side of the line and helped the Lancers go 14-0 and win their first state title.
- OL: J.R. Rascon, Sr., Mountain View:
- The 6-1, 275-pound Rascon helped pave the way for Richie Estrada to be one of the top rushers in the state.
- ATH: Cameron Denson, Sr., Salpointe Catholic:
- Dynamic to say the least, Denson caught 73 passes for 1,453 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushed 38 times for 394 yards and six scores. The UA verbal commit also threw three touchdown passes.
- RET: Elijah Anderson, Sr., Tucson:
- Anderson was one of the most dangerous kick and punt returners in the area, averaging more than 25 yards an attempt. He racked up 1,250 all-purpose yards and scored 11 touchdowns.
- K: Grant Hubble, Jr., Catalina Foothills:
- Hubble was a perfect 46 for 46 on extra point attempts and was 7 for 9 in field goal attempts, with his longest coming from 42 yards out.
• DL: Brandt Davidson, Sr., Salpointe Catholic: Davidson, at 6-3 and 265 pounds, amassed 10 tackles for loss and eight sacks for the Lancers defense which was virtually impenetrable.
• DL: John Jackson, Sr., Canyon del Oro: A two-way threat, the 6-4, 255-pound Jackson made the biggest impact on the defensive line with six tackles for loss and three sacks.
• DL: Sidney Malauulu, Sr., Sierra Vista Buena: A transfer from South Korea, the 6-3, 280-pound Malauulu made an immediate impact on defense, finishing with a team-high nine tackles for loss and two sacks.
• DL: Jacob Reed, Sr., Cienega: The 6-2, 220-pound three-year starter led the Bobcats with 9.7 tackles a game and had eight sacks to finish with a school-record 18 in his career.
• LB: Jake Casteel, Sr., Salpointe Catholic: Casteel, the son of UA defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, led the Lancers’ dominating defense with 11.9 tackles a game and had 25 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles and 12 sacks.
• LB: Taylor Powell, Jr., Salpointe Catholic: Right behind Casteel, Powell averaged 11.5 tackles a game and had 21 tackles for loss, caused five fumbles and had five sacks. He also pulled in two interceptions.
• LB: Corbin Gouby, Sr., Mountain View: Despite an injury-shortened season, Gouby still proved to be one of the top linebackers in the area with 9.8 tackles a game.
• LB: Austin Goddard, Jr., Ironwood Ridge: Goddard led the Nighthawks with 7.1 tackles a game, nine tackles for loss and 5.4 sacks. He also forced two fumbles and intercepted a pass.
• DB: Cameron Denson, Sr., Salpointe Catholic: Just as he was on offense, Denson was dangerous on defense, too. The lock-down cornerback hauled in seven interceptions, four of which he returned for touchdowns.
• DB: Jay Williams, Sr., Salpointe Catholic: In addition to being Salpointe’s top rusher, Williams was an important piece on its defense with 4.6 tackles a game, three sacks, 11 tackles for loss and one interception.
• DB: Zach Joseph, Sr., Sabino: In addition to rushing for 1,390 yards and 18 touchdowns, Joseph hauled in two interceptions and blocked two field goals.
• DB: Terrence Johnson, Jr., Cienega: Johnson had close to 400 yards of offense, averaged 7.1 tackles a game and intercepted a pass as a corner.
• DB: Demetrius Flannigan, Jr., Tucson: The 6-3-inch athletic Flannigan broke up five passes as corner and will be one of the top players to watch in Southern Arizona next season.
• All-purpose: Derik Hall, Jr., Sahuaro: Just an all-around football player, Hall averaged 4.6 tackles a game and led the Cougars in rushing with 792 yards and 12 touchdowns.
• P: Matthew Aragon, Jr., Cienega: One of the best punters in the state, Aragon averaged 44.0 yards on 26 punts, with his longest going 57 yards.
QB: Rafael Adames, Sr., Sierra Vista Buena
RB: Jarratt White, Sr., Desert View
RB: Sean Fitzsimmons, Sr., Empire
WR: Ben Sims, Sr., Sierra Vista Buena
WR: DeQuaven Brooks, Sr., Santa Rita
WR/RB: Taylor Fitzgerald, Jr., Pusch Ridge
TE: Jason Luna, Sr., Nogales
OL: Thomas Gray, , Sr., Tucson
OL: Joseph Jenkins, , Sr., Sahuarita
OL: Gabe Sandoval, , Sr., Salpointe Catholic
OL: Cameron Dwan, Sr., Pusch Ridge Christian
OL: C.J. McAviney, Sr., Empire
ATH: Donovan Moore, Sr., Tucson
RET: Alex Turner, Sr., Sabino
K: Robin Thomas, Sr., Tucson
DL: Justin Holt, So., Salpointe Catholic
DL: Aubrey Littleton, Sr., Sahuaro
DL: Talib Bridges, Sr., Tucson
DL: Marcus Edwards, Jr., Sabino
LB: Kevin Hamlett, Sr., Salpointe Catholic
LB: Walker Padilla, Jr., Canyon del Oro
LB: Austin Baldwin, Sr., Catalina Foothills
LB: Jesus Barrera, Sr., Amphitheater
DB: Tommy Ciaccio, Sr., Catalina Foothills
DB: Santiago Nieto, Sr., Salpointe Catholic
DB: Omar Lloyd, Jr., Sahuaro
DB: Marquise Moore, Sr., Catalina
DB: Anthony Peralta, Jr., Sunnyside
All-purpose: Izzy Calvillo, Jr., Walden Grove
P: Cody Rochon, Sr., Mountain View
QB: Jordan Closs-Lopez, Sr., Canyon del Oro
RB: Dominique Drake, Sr., Sierra Vista Buena
RB: Dionte Flores, So., Flowing Wells
WR: Milo Fragoso, Sr., Sahuarita
WR: Deonte Williams, Jr., Sierra Vista Buena
WR/RB: Aaron Fanning, Sr., Rio Rico
TE: Matt Solverson, Jr., Ironwood Ridge
OL: Jason Linden, Jr., Bisbee
OL: David Martinez, Jr., Salpointe Catholic
OL: Ryan Baker-Miller, Sr., Sabino
OL: Wesley De Giuiseppe, Sr., Nogales
OL: D.J. Schroder, Sr., Sierra Vista Buena
ATH: Ben Honea, Sr., Marana
RET: Christian Poe, Sr., Cienega
K: Nathan Farmer, Jr., Ironwood Ridge
DL: Mike Vasquez, Sr., Salpointe Catholic
DL: Travis Howard, Jr., Marana
DL: Mark Ramirez, Sr., Rio Rico
DL: Austin Burleson, Jr., Walden Grove
LB: Austin Soszynski, Sr., Marana
LB: Dayton Lundgren, Sr., Sabino
LB: Nic Cisney, Sr., Sahuaro
LB: Chance Hatfield, Sr., Empire
DB: Reece LaFaye, Sr., Marana
DB: Kayden Bedolla, Sr., Sahuarita
DB: Benito Pimienta, Sr., Tanque Verde
DB: Chris Smith, Sr., Mountain View
DB: Jared McKemy, So., Ironwood Ridge
All-purpose: Coy Colgate, So., Nogales
P: Geovan Neuser, Jr., Sahuarita
Amphitheater: Ray Holbrook, Abraham Pantoja, Dante Anderson, Tony Villa. Benson: Nick Hernandez, Travis Barney, Dallas Dastrup, Clayton Gill. Bisbee: Rey Chavez, Spencer Schuller. Canyon del Oro: Tommy Sawyer, Max Smith, Jared McElmell, Paul Udorvich. Catalina: Jeremiah Wilcoxen, DeMarco Grayson. Catalina Foothills: Elliott Buchanan, Gabe Gerhauser, Luis Escarcega, Kash McDonald, Brandon Kingsley, Conner Kobylinski, Rhett Rodriguez. Cholla: Justin Pledger, Jerome Doss, Carlos Velazquez, David Yslava, Martin Osuna, Steven Nuñez. Cienega: Derek Sommers, Adriell Alvarado, Christian Nash, David Sanchez. Desert View: Thomas Haskins, Dante Austin. Douglas: Blaze Rose, Luis Alvarado. Empire: Seth Powell, Lorenzo Sanchez, Isaiah Martin, Michael Dobiecki, Sean Klasen, Nick Lakosky. Flowing Wells: Satchel Burton, Nick Mason. Ironwood Ridge: Kai Ellingboe, Tyler Berson , Michael Volk, Nephi Otuafi. Marana: Bradley Gonzales, Colby Cecil, Christian Lopez. Mountain View: Sam Ross, Matt Thomas, Justice Summerset, J.P. Ramirez, Enrique Sparkman, Brandon Stoutmeyer, Caleb Barham. Nogales: Max Verdugo. Palo Verde: Joe Lewis, Rozario Martinez. Pueblo: Jorge Romero, Sean Berube, Jeren Gunnels. Pusch Ridge Christian: Mitch Reilly, Tyler Overstreet, Aaron Borane. Rincon/University: Brad Davis, Andrew Cable. Rio Rico: John Brewington, Sean Fanning, Dan Gastellum. Sabino: Emilio Araiza. Sahuarita: Olen Brown, Sal Rodriguez, Zach Radovich, Rocko Vega, Carlos Lopez. Sahuaro: Laramie Brown, Chris Arlig, Adrian Ramos, Jerry Ruiz, Demitri Fontinos, Arturo Bernal. Salpointe Catholic: David Peraza, Robby Wilson, Jake Ksiazek, Jaylyn Juan, Chase Sankey, Alex Flores, Zach Dorame, Andrew Palomares, Jake Berwick. San Manuel: Shane Kelly, Anthony Garcia, Richard Romo. Santa Rita: Peyton Kendrick, Mikey Patrick, Akia Bridges, Matt McAdams. Sierra Vista Buena: Joey Ash, Adarius Blake, Jacob Valdez, Corey Dannels, Gilbert Pinckney. Sunnyside: Gerrardo Fierros, Ruben Figueroa, Daniel Bonn, Steven Saenz. Tanque Verde: Sam Pernu, Jack Christman, Jesse Bartels. Tombstone: Dontae Otey, William Braswell, Tyler Francisco. Tucson: Bryce Coleman, Austin Perkins, Markquise Simmons, William Gambrell, Andres Castro, Joseph Martin. Walden Grove: Austin Elenez, Suh Breiler.