Best of state HS football

WeAreSC staffers Garry Paskwietz and Erik McKinney, along with Greg Biggins from ESPN's RecruitingNation, take a look back at some of the top performers from the 2011 high school football season.

Top senior

Garry Paskwietz -- OL Max Tuerk (Santa Margarita HS): The Eagles bulldozed their way to a Pac-5 title this season behind a dominant run game led by Tuerk, whom former USC offensive linemen describe him as "nasty, mean and plays with a great attitude." His coaches at Santa Margarita -- Harry Welch and Marty Spaulding -- know a lot about linemen, and they both think this guy is as good as it gets.

Erik McKinney -- Max Tuerk: Arik Armstead was absolutely dominant this season, but if he is only being judged as a defensive lineman, I'll go with Tuerk. What he did as an offensive tackle proves that he belongs in the discussion of top offensive linemen in the country. Coach Harry Welch said Tuerk is the best lineman he has seen in all his years of coaching and that the Eagles wouldn't be where they are -- Pac-5 champions -- without him. That's high praise indeed.

Greg Biggins -- DL/OL Arik Armstead (Pleasant Grove HS): He's not just the top prospect in the state but the best player as well. When you watch his senior highlights, especially on the offensive line, it looks like you're watching a man among boys.

Top junior

Paskwietz -- QB Johnny Stanton (Santa Margarita HS): I'm not ignoring Su'a Cravens -- he's obviously a stud -- but I'm going to stick with the Santa Margarita team and pick Stanton. If you want a leader and a football player, you aren't going to find too many better than him. He has such good size that it makes him hard to stop as a runner but he can also beat you with his arm when needed.

McKinney -- LB/RB Su'a Cravens (Vista Murrieta HS): Cravens should be recognized as one of the top defenders in the state regardless of class standing. He shines on both sides of the ball for the Mustangs, but he takes his game to a different level on defense. He flies to the ball with an innate understanding of the opposing offense. He can tackle, he can run, he can catch, he can diagnose. He can do it all.

Biggins -- Su'a Cravens: Might be the best LB in the state right now and has the speed to play safety in college as well.

Top sophomore

Paskwietz -- QB Brandon Dawkins (Westlake Village Oaks Christian HS): Dawkins stepped into the starting role for a high profile Oaks Christian program early and put up some strong numbers, leading his team to the CIF title game. He has size and arm strength, and he makes good decisions. We're going to be hearing a lot about this guy for the next few years.

McKinney -- WR Jeff Farrar (West Hills Alemany HS): Alemany was loaded at wide receiver this season, with senior Jericho Richardson, junior Steven Mitchell, and Farrar. But the youngster, who transferred from Los Angeles Cathedral, made his share of big plays and never seemed out of place against tough competition. Farrar finished the season with a 55-yard touchdown grab in a tough opening-round playoff loss to Bellflower St. John Bosco.

Biggins -- WR Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central): This explosive kid will be a national recruit in two years. Has good size, hands and all the tools to be an impact player right away at the next level.

Best performance

Paskwietz -- The Inland Empire: Every year in Southern California there is more and more of a talent shift to the Inland Empire, and this year it really showed with three teams: Vista Murietta, Centennial and Upland, all considered among the best in the area.

McKinney -- WR Darreus Rogers against Mater Dei: Rogers made more than a few big plays for Carson this season, but nothing left a bigger impression than his work in the season opener against Santa Ana Mater Dei. He caught 11 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning score with 6.5 seconds remaining in the game. Rogers finished with touchdown receptions of 73, 22 and 12 yards, and added a clutch 12-yard grab on a fourth-down play late in the game. Rogers' similarly impressive performance the following week against Long Beach Poly turned heads again, but what he did against the Monarchs carried through the rest of the season.

Biggins -- WR Darreus Rogers versus Long Beach Poly: Rogers caught 12 balls and two touchdowns in the first half. Poly double-teamed Rogers in the second half and said it was the first time they had doubled a receiver in nine years.

Best storyline

Paskwietz -- Offensive linemen: The top two teams from Southern California in the state finals -- Westlake and Santa Margarita -- are each led by a dominant offensive line. The same goes for San Clemente, which made a rare appearance in the CIF final. With all the individual attention being paid to some talented linemen, it's nice to see some teams have success when the whole line does well.

McKinney -- Offensive linemen: The big men up front never get enough credit for the work they put in, so it's always nice when a season hinges on their play. Heading into the season, we knew this would be a tremendous group of offensive linemen in California. And that group, featuring local prospects Tuerk, Kyle Murphy and Jordan Simmons, delivered each week.

Biggins -- Offensive linemen It was definitely the year of the offensive lineman. Kyle Murphy, Jordan Simmons, Max Tuerk, Erik Magnuson and Freddie Tagaloa are all elite national prospects, and if you count Armstead in this category it's the best collection of linemen the state has produced in more than 10 years.

Biggest surprise

Garry Paskwietz -- Mater Dei misses playoffs: The Monarchs didn't advance to the CIF playoffs for the first time since 1986.

McKinney -- Arik Armstead decommitting from USC: There was certainly some rumbling about the Armstead family not being pleased with the way Armond's situation was being handled, but it was surprising to see Arik pull his commitment. What has made it even more shocking is that it looks like Armstead has completely moved away from USC. The Trojans coaches are very much fighting a steep, uphill battle to get him back.

Biggins -- Arik Armstead: Not to bring up Armstead again, but no way did I ever see him decommitting from USC. Not only has he decommitted, it now appears USC is out and I would have said Armstead signing with the Trojans would be about as big of a lock as it was just last summer.