All-Shasta County Football Team: Defense

The 2018 All-Shasta County defensive football team is comprised of 24 players from 10 high schools  in Shasta County. (Photos by Mike Daly, illustration by Aaron Williams/Shasta County Sports)

The 2018 prep football season featured everything from triumph to tragedy. There were champions crowned in the North State and others who’s playoff dreams came up a bit short.

The inaugural Shasta County Sports All-County Football Team, sponsored by Redding Rancheria, highlights those players in the 10-school region and their athletic achievements. A first team and a second team is split into two sides — offense and defense — chosen by the SCS staff. Input from area coaches, all-league and all-Northern Section accolades, statistics and personal experience were the factors that went into selecting these 48 players — 24 each on offense and defense.

SEE MORE: Heisman Winner & Defensive MVP, presented by Clear View Auto Glass — RB/LB Bailey Sulzer, West Valley, Sr.

SEE MORE: Offensive MVP: Jayden Gordon, Foothill, Sr.

SEE MORE: All-County Offensive Team

FIRST TEAM

DL | Logan Gonzalez, West Valley, Sr.
Stats: 68 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered
Gonzalez was the hole-plugger and immovable force as an interior lineman for West Valley. It’s not often the guys in the trenches get the credit but Gonzalez stood out on a defense that was littered with talent, speed and athleticism, making big plays all year. He was an all-Northern Athletic League and second-team all-Northern Section selection.

DL | Bladen Stankey, Shasta, So.
Stats: 23 tackles, 2 tackles for loss
Remember the name. The man-child called “Lil Stank” will be a force in years to come. He’s got the measurables,  loves to mix it up and could be a dominant two-way player for the Wolves for years to come.

DL | Brock Taylor, West Valley, Sr.
Stats: 78 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered
The Eagles’ sack leader with nine was often one of the most athletic players on the field for the Eagles…and that’s saying a lot with the likes of Bailey Sulzer, Cade Lambert & Co. Nobody ran to Taylor’s side of the field and his speed and athleticism made him one of the best defensive-end tandems (along with the late Tyson Wacker) that West Valley has had in 30 years, defensive coordinator Jim Vert said. Taylor was an all-league and first-team all-section pick.

LB | Bailey Sulzer, West Valley, Sr.
Stats: 2,054 yards rushing and 29 TDs on 283 carries; 93 yards receiving on nine catches, TD; 150 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, INT, 4 forced fumbles, two fumbles recovered
This year’s Shasta County Sports Heisman winner as overall MVP, sponsored by Clear View Auto Glass, dominated when he was on the field and his leadership on a team overcoming life-changing adversity with losing a teammate set him apart from the rest. Sulzer led the Northern Section in rushing, totaled 150 tackles, was a disruptive force at linebacker and his list of accolades included a first-team all-state choice at linebacker for Cal-Hi Sports and the Northern Section Offensive MVP.

LB | Cade Lambert, West Valley, Jr.
Stats: 130 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 4 INTs, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recovered fumbles; 403 yards, 7 TDs on 42 attempts
On the section’s best defense filled with standouts, Lambert achieved elite status alongside Sulzer. His speed allowed him to track down ball carries, slide into passing windows to create turnovers (finishing with four interceptions) being a vocal leader on a senior-laden squad. Lambert was an all-NAL choice and second-team all-section pick at linebacker.

LB | Mario Martinez, Anderson, Sr.
Stats: 116 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks; 166 yards rushing, 1 TD
The All-NAL ‘backer could line up anywhere on the front seven for Big Blue with ferocity. A tremendous run stopper, Martinez provided valuable leadership on both sides of the ball. He was a first-team all-section selection at defensive end.

LB | Isaiah Pena, Shasta, Jr.
Stats: 57 tackles, 2 tackles for loss
A quiet assassin, Pena led the Wolves in tackles, stepping up into a leadership role to fill the void left by heavy graduation losses the previous year. Pena loved to stick his nose in things and will benefit in 2019 greatly from last season.

DB | Myles Gibbons, West Valley, Sr.
Stats: 53 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, INT, four recovered fumbles; 145 yards receiving, 2 TDs on 16 catches; 2 rush TDs
There was an unwritten rule when playing the Eagles — don’t throw it No. 21’s way. Gibbons was a shutdown corner for the Eagles and often overlooked because of his size at 5-foot-6, 145 pounds. Still, Gibbons played bigger than he was, intercepting a pass in the CIF D-5AA NorCal title game and his feisty and aggressiveness showed when he stepped on the gridiron. He also caught the winning touchdown in the Northern Section D-III championship game over Sutter.

DB | Dagan Johnson Sanders, West Valley, Sr.
Stats: 51 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 recovered fumble; 142 yards receiving, 2 TDs on 14 catches
Johnson Sanders earned first-team all-section and all-NAL honors, securing the opposite side of the field of Gibbons for a lockdown duo. He took two of his four interceptions to the house and was an integral part of West Valley’s nasty ‘The Pack’ defense.

DB | Marquice Crowell, Anderson, Sr.
Stats: 24 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 4 INT; 612 yards receiving, 5 TDs
The NAL honorable mention pulled down four interceptions in addition to forcing and recovering a fumble. He was lock down on defense and equally as explosive and game-changing on offense.

DB | Chris Ostergren, Foothill, Jr.
Stats: 74 tackles, 2 INT; 21 catches, 393 yard receiving, 2 TDs
A spark plug on both sides of the ball, Ostergren was second on the Cougars in tackles and interceptions while finding a home as a slot receiver in the high-powered Foothill offense.

8-man | Isaiah Van Denend, Redding Christian, Sr.
Stats: 61-125, 1,134 yards passing, 18 TDs, 10 INTs; 2,222 yards rushing and 24 TDs on 269 carries; 20 tackles
The Northern Section 8-man football rushing leader also compiled more than 3,000 yards of total offense and was a workhorse for the 7-5 semifinalist Lions, recording at least 20 rushing attempts in nine of 12 games — Redding Christian won the other three games by a combined score of 164-16.

SECOND TEAM

DL | Tyson Wacker, West Valley, Jr.
Stats: 34 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, two fumbles forced, one fumble recovered
Wacker will forever leave his mark on the West Valley program as both a player and a friend. He was named second-team all-section posthumously, leading the Eagles in tackles for a loss and sacks through eight games. He died on Oct. 22 from injuries suffered from a car accident five days prior the Eagles’ rallying sentiment of ‘Live For Tyson’ and ‘Play for 8’ fueled them to a Northern Section Division III title and CIF D-5AA NorCal championship appearance.

DL | Ronnie Carter, Foothill, Sr.
Stats: 42 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack
The senior was, to coach Brown, the epitome of a good high school football player. A strong defender who enjoyed being on the field and helped motivate the defense

DL | Keiton Spengler, Shasta, Jr.
Stats: 35 tackles, 2 tackles for loss
The EAL All-League player was dominant at times, shutting down the edge and pestering quarterbacks. Just a junior, Spengler could be a monster on the d-line for the Wolves in 2019.

DL | Logan Irwin, Foothill, Sr.
Stats: 45 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack
A muti-position player, Irwin played defensive end, linebacker and guard. The physically gifted senior provided depth and was a beast in the trenches.

LB | Cole Abel, U-Prep, Jr.
Stats: 109 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries; 298 yard rushing, 1 TD
A great run stopper, Abel, a two-year varsity player already, was leader of a Panthers’ defense that made strides in Division III.  An All-Mid-Valley League choice, look for Abel to build on last season in 2019.

LB | Vaipu Leota, Anderson, Sr.
Stats: 86 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 4 sacks; 352 yards passing, 2 TDs; 421 yards rushing, 3 TDs
A true jack-of-all-trades, Leota was all over the field for Big Blue. The NAL honorable mention was an anchor in the secondary in addition to being a big contributor on the offensive side.

LB | Dylan Weigand, Foothill, Jr.
Stats: 74 tackles, 2 tackles for loss
Made big strides this season and Brown looks for him to be impact player in 2019. Went from quiet kid to on-field general on defense.

LB | Cade Petrie, Shasta, Sr.
Stats: 55 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 1 sack
The Wolves’ senior stepped up into the scheme and provided a rock in the middle. Petrie was physical enough to stuff the run and quick enough to cover the pass.

LB | Cody Crawford, Anderson, Jr.
Stats: 135 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss
The All NAL linebacker led the team in tackles. Crawford was a dominant, punishing run stopper, could catch would-be receivers in the flat and had a nose for the ball. Should be the cornerstone of the Big Blue defensive attack next season.

DB | Garrett Thibodeau, West Valley, Jr.
Stats: 69 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 4 INTs, 2 passes defended
Thibodeau had a knack for locating the ball and served as a stalwart defender on the Eagles’ championship season. He returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown on the road against Paradise and had another one in the CIF D-5AA NorCal championship game, playing his best ball as the stakes were the highest.

DB | Timothy Westlund, Fall River, Jr.
Stats: 62 tackles,  2 INTs, fumble recover; 165 yard receiving, 2 TDs; 338 yard rushing, 4 TDs
The 5-11 athlete was a do-it-all for the Section Champion Bulldogs. He prowled the secondary for a Fall River team that defense that allowed 8 points per game. On offense, Westlund could beat you out of the backfield or catching passes.

8-man | Clark Smith, Redding Christian, So.
Stats: 135 tackles (11.3 per game), 1 sack, 7 INTs, 1 recovered fumble; 274 yards rushing, 3 TDs; 127 yards receiving, 3 TDs
Smith’s dynamic play-making ability at linebacker stood out on Gerald Piper’s squad that reached the Northern Section Division VI semifinals. Smith’s seven picks tied for third in the state for 8-man players and he also accounted for seven touchdowns — three each rushing and receiving and one throwing — making him one of three underclassmen to make the all-county squad (James Weaver & Blayden Stankey).

2018 All-Shasta County Football Team

Heisman winner & Defensive MVP: Bailey Sulzer, West Valley, Sr.
Offensive MVP: Jayden Gordon, Foothill, Sr.
Coach of the Year: Greg Grandell, West Valley

First Team Defense
DL – Logan Gonzalez, West Valley, Sr.
DL – Blayden Stankey, Shasta, So.
DL – Brock Taylor, West Valley, Sr.
LB – Bailey Sulzer, West Valley, Sr.
LB – Cade Lambert, West Valley, Jr.
LB – Mario Martinez, Anderson, Sr.
LB – Isaiah Pena, Shasta, Jr.
DB – Myles Gibbons, West Valley, Sr.
DB – Dagan Johnson Sanders, West Valley, Sr.
DB – Marquice Crowell, Anderson, Sr.
DB – Chris Ostergren, Foothill, Jr.
8-man – Isaiah Van Denend, Redding Christian, Sr.

Second Team
DL – Tyson Wacker, West Valley, Jr.
DL – Ronnie Carter, Foothill, Sr.
DL – Keiton Spengler, Shasta, Jr.
DL – Logan Irwin, Foothill, Sr.
LB – Cole Abel, U-Prep, Jr.
LB – Vaipu Leota, Anderson, Sr.
LB – Dylan Wiegand, Foothill, Jr.
LB – Cade Petrie, Shasta, Sr.
LB – Cody Crawford, Anderson, Jr.
DB – Garrett Thibodeau, West Valley, Jr.
DB – Timothy Westlund, Fall River, Jr.
8-man – Clark Smith, Redding Christian, So.