Shasta County Sports’ Top 50 players are ranked, in a countdown format, based on varsity experience and potential impact for the upcoming season. Coaches’ opinions, statistics, postseason accolades, video highlights and the “eye test” were all factors in compiling the list.
The only teams included are in Shasta County – Anderson, Burney, Central Valley, Enterprise, Fall River, Foothill, Redding Christian, Shasta, U-Prep and West Valley. A reminder: just because a player plays in a lower division for a smaller school, doesn’t mean their impact is any less than a player from a large school.
The Top 50 Returning Players List is sponsored by Tri Counties Bank, a proud partner of Shasta County Sports.
5. Chris Whitney | DT | West Valley | Sr.
Every defense needs a ferocious identity to strike fear into opponents. For West Valley, setting that tone starts with Chris Whitney.
The Eagles’ senior defensive tackle plays with confidence at a position not usually known for collecting accolades or having eye-popping stats, at least at the high school level.
“Chris is a great leader, he wants to be better and works every day to get better,” said West Valley head coach Lenny Ehn. “He is really strong in the interior of the defense and many times requires a double team.”
Constantly double-teamed? In high school? That’s when you know you’ve arrived as a force to be reckoned with. The respect is earned for Whitney, who terrorized offenses for a total of 56 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 2019. His relentless pursuit of the quarterback puts him in a class on his own as well as his ability to disrupt offensive rhythm for his elite quickness for a player nearing 300 pounds.
In fact, former Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Vert mentioned how they considered running him at fullback, reminiscent of William “Refrigerator” Perry of the 1985 Chicago Bears squad. Whitney’s combination of athletic ability, work ethic and competitive drive was drawing NCAA Division I (FCS) interest before COVID and stellar spring film could elevate him to an FBS scholarship, Vert said.
“A lot of times we required D-line to occupy bodies to free up linebackers and Chris was able to do that and still make a bunch of plays,” Vert said. “He’s tenacious and has that mentality of just being a tough, ornery guy that looks to dominate.”
If he does, West Valley is going to have a 2021 spring season to remember.
2021 Spring Football Player Rankings
Players Nos. 46-50
Players Nos. 41-45
Players Nos. 36-40
Players Nos. 31-35
Players Nos. 26-30
Players Nos. 21-25
Players Nos. 16-20
Players Nos. 11-15
Player No. 10: Michael Traylor, Shasta
Player No. 9: Jack Maready, Foothill
Player No. 8: Jahari Johnson, Enterprise
Player No. 7: Hayden Boyes, West Valley
Player No. 6: Marcus Trotter, Anderson
Player No. 5: Chris Whitney, West Valley