When a team dismantles its opponents en route to a title and a deep run in the playoffs, more often than not, a MVP candidate will emerge from said squad.
For the Big 5 champion Arcata High football team, not one, but three Tigers earned most valuable designations.
Running backs Aleric Stone and Tyler Keil and lineman Dustin Wallis helped Arcata attain a storybook season and each were voted most valuable players by Humboldt-Del Norte Conference head coaches.
Running behind Wallis and the Tigers stout offensive line, Thunder (Stone) and Lightning (Keil) made the opposition pay. Stone - a senior - rumbled for 1,706 yards and 21 touchdowns on 253 carries while Keil - a junior - galloped for 1,858 yards on 192 carries and 22 scores.
Wallis also gave the Tigers a dominant presence on the defensive line as he racked up 43 tackles and three sacks.
Impressive individual performances were not limited to just the Big 5 this season.
The Little 4 also gave us its stars.
When it comes to the South Fork High, there wasn’t anyone as valuable as Joey Wittlake.
The Cubs’ junior threw for 2,062 yards with 20 touchdowns and ran for 495 yards and four more scores as quarterback.
Wittlake also racked up a team-leading 122 tackles to go along with his interceptions as a defensive back.
It was no surprise to see him earn MVP honors along with lineman Ferndale’s Chris Catana and St. Bernard’s Travis Rice.
Catana - a senior - was Mr. Consistency for the Wildcats as he provided a pass-rushing presence and stout run defender on the defensive line. He was also part of Ferndale’s dominant and effect offensive line unit. Rice - also a senior - provided every-down intensity on the Crusaders’ offensive line. He brought the same level of determination at the linebacker position, racking up a team-leading 120 tackles with one sack and two interceptions.
South Fork High School quarterback Joey Wittlake earned MVP honors.