What a year for linebackers in the Valley. It’s one of my favorite positions at the high school and college level because these guys have so much of a say in the game. Not so at the pro level, where it seems like only handful of linebackers can truly play a big role in the outcome. I’m aware this is going to be a controversial list, but hey, it’s a controversial position. My advice to those who shake their head at the list is to ask you to simply realize that some schools have a monopoly at the position. Then ask yourself if any of the guys on the list were at your school, what would they do? That should help ease the tension. Also , I want to stipulate something: I don’t fully trust most stat keepers when it comes to tackles. Some teams give credit for a tackle when a player is simply within the same zip code as the ball carrier. It’s kind of subjective. Therefore, I think LB is a position better observed in person than in the stat column. Anyway, as a whole, the Valley is once again loaded with good linebackers.
1. Damon Kuklinski, South Hills – Most overused term in football writing/broadcasting: Throwback.
2. Marcus Wagner, Bishop Amat – Amat’s rock, literally, in the middle.
3. Mikey Niles, Glendora – This year’s Todd Bruno. Should get major aid from the D-Line.
4. Nick Padilla, Charter Oak – Will have to play a Pasalo-like role this year. That’s a hard act to follow.
5. Marc Felix, Los Altos – Six sacks last season and third on the team in tackles. I expect even better in ’07.
6. Robert Horn, Glendora – The new “Beast of the East?” Gottsta stay healthy. Between you and me, I get scared watching him from the sideline.
7. Ray Washington, Charter Oak – It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s the biggest breakout player on the list.
8. Andrew Rodriguez, Northview – The area’s version of A-Rod hits QBs and RBs, not homers.
9. Drew Carreon, Charter Oak – Plays a hybrid position and came on like gangbusters after the position switch midway thru last year. Now Big Lou tells me Washington State is interested.
10. Chris Bowden, South Hills – 106 tackles a sophomore. Should have a similar season playing alongside Kuklinski.