The last of the all-star football teams are in, and the only Longhorn honored was linebacker-fullback Nick Johnson.
He was one of about 66 prep athletes representing the state’s small schools to be named honorable mention on the Arizona Republic’s 1A-3A All-State team when it was announced Dec. 27.
As expected, the first and second team offenses and defenses were dominated by state champions Blue Ridge (3A) and Valley Christian (2A).
The Yellow Jackets had six players chosen either first or second team. Valley Christian also had six players selected first or second team, including Player of the Year Jordan Morgan.
The 6-foot, 1-inch, 195-pound junior was named to the team as an “athlete” which means he could play multiple positions.
First team quarterback Jake Meixler of Blue Ridge leads the all-state offense.
Yellow Jacket linebacker Alex Stebbins, a 5-foot, 11-inch, 205-pound junior, anchors the first team defense.
Wilcox’s Jim Hughes was named Coach of the Year.
Most striking about the all-state selections is the teams are dominated by parochial schools, which have 17 players on either first or second team offense or defense. All of the parochial schools play in the 2A conference. Also most all of the honorees are from teams that posted winning records, which did not bode well for the Longhorns, who finished the year 3-7.
Among the Horns not selected, but earlier named to other all-star and all-state teams, were Mason Dacanay, Max Johnson and Logan Garner. Last month, in a voting of region coaches, Dacanay and Garner were named to the East region first team offense and Nick Johnson and Max Johnson were named to the first team defense. Garner, Dacanay, Max Johnson and Nick Johnson were also honorable mention on the 3A coaches’ all-star team.
In Arizona Football Coaches Association voting last week, Nick Johnson and Garner were named to the North All-Star team. Dacanay and Max Johnson were selected alternates.
Throughout the 2009 campaign, Nick Johnson held down the middle linebacker on the Horn “D.” He built a reputation as a bruising tackler and wrapped up the season as the East’s leading tackler with 153 stops. On offense, he was the Horns’ starting fullback and led the team in rushing with 435 yards on 92 carries.
The Arizona Republic sports staff chooses the all-state team with help from a coach’s ballot, public nominations, all-region teams, interviews with coaches, statistics and reporter observations.