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ALL-AREA FOOTBALL: Top defenders stopped teams in their tracks

December 30, 2017 GMT

Along with Defensive Player of the Year Logan Arnold, here’s a look at the 2017 Appeal-Democrat All-Area defense.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Tyler Gillming, Sr., Sutter

A three-year varsity starter for the Huskies, Gillming closed out his prep career in style by being named the Northern Section Defensive Player of the Year and Butte View League Defensive MVP while helping Sutter to its fourth straight Northern Section Division III title.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound defensive end gave no ground to opposing offensive linemen and finished the year with 77 tackles to go with team highs of 21 tackles for loss, 11½ sacks and 22 quarterback hurries to earn his second straight All-Area nod.

Ian Novak, Jr., East Nicolaus

A standout on the line on both sides of the ball, Novak took care of business at defensive end and helped the Spartans win their third straight Northern Section Division IV championship.

The two-time All-Mid-Valley League selection ended the year with 81 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 2 ½ sacks.

Hector Rodriguez, Sr., Pierce

Named the Sacramento Valley League’s Defensive MVP, Rodriguez was so strong against the run that teams simply opted to avoid going in his direction by the end of the season.

The 5-11, 215-pound defensive end finished the year with 77 tackles and eight sacks to help the Bears bounce back from a losing record in 2016 to the SVL title and a berth in the Northern Section Division IV semifinals.

Travis Tedder, Jr., Sutter

Also an accomplished wrestler, the 5-10, 200-pound Tedder was a handful for opponents at defensive tackle while earning All-BVL honors for the Huskies.

The two-year starter finished his junior year with 67 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and was second on the team to Gillming with 6 ½ sacks.

Tedder was also voted to the All-Northern Section second team.

LINEBACKERS

Jeff Fitzgerald, Jr., Sutter

Fitzgerald made a smooth transition to the varsity team and followed a long line of standout inside linebackers for the Huskies by coming up with big plays all year.

He went on to record a team-high 119 tackles to go with 2 ½ sacks, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Dyllan Hyde, Jr., East Nicolaus

The Spartans fielded a strong defensive unit this year and the leader was Hyde, who earned All-Mid-Valley League honors for his work as the team’s ballhawk at inside linebacker.

Hyde topped the area with 179 tackles to go with 16 ½ tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Este Menendez, Sr., Yuba City

The Honkers’ defense got better as the season went on, and a big reason why was the play of Menendez, who was named to the the All-Tri-County Conference team for his efforts.

As the captain of the defensive unit at middle linebacker, Menendez showed a nose for the football by recording a team-high 124 tackles to go with an interception.

Erick Sandoval, Sr., River Valley

Also named to the All-TCC team, Sandoval was the defensive leader and a big reason why the Falcons made a return trip to the playoffs.

Though only 5-8 and 175 pounds, Sandoval came up with big plays all year while posting 87 tackles, six tackles for loss and two sacks. He also scored two defensive touchdowns, one on a fumble return and another on an interception.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Todd Carr, Sr., Sutter

Another All-BVL selection for the Huskies, Carr was a force both against the run and the pass while taking home All-Area honors for the second straight year.

He finished the season with 56 tackles and led the team with six interceptions, three of which came in Sutter’s 55-0 victory over Anderson in the section championship game.

Gary Cooper, Sr., Marysville

Though the Indians missed out on the playoffs, Cooper shined once again at safety while taking home All-Area and All-Golden Empire League accolades for the second straight year.

Cooper finished with 30 solo tackles and a team-high three interceptions in nine games, and was Marsville’s top offensive player at running back, where he rushed for more than 900 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 11 yards per carry.

Daelin Martins, Sr., Yuba City

A versatile player who patrolled the secondary for the Honkers, Martins flew up from his safety spot to support the run and was great against the pass as well.

He ended the year with 96 tackles, 18 passes defended and an interception.

Corey Taylor, Sr., East Nicolaus

Named the MVL’s co-MVP along with teammate Christian Hovey, Taylor was also named to the first-team All-Northern Section as a cornerback this year.

He finished the year with 80 tackles, four interceptions and 11 passes defended at cornerback, and also blocked three punts for good measure. On offense, Taylor rushed for a team-high 1,235 yards to go with 14 touchdowns and 11 two-point conversions.