Who do you start with off a championship team?
A head coach or a pass rushing phenom?
How about a freshman blocker and his older brother QB?
Run-stuffers or pass receivers?
In truth, the 2019 Southern Section All-CIF football team released on Feb. 3, had a nice collection of players from Aquinas High School.
It was highly expected that the Falcons would dominate the post-season awards with a flurry of selections.
If it started with Jordan Brusig, the Falcons’ fifth-year head coach -- not even selected as Coach of the Year in his own Ambassador League -- who was the architect of a team that dropped its first two games last season to dominant defending CIF champions, Simi Valley Grace Brethren and Fontana Kaiser.
Until a closely played duel in the state championship against Clayton Valley Charter, the Falcons never lost again.
Brusig was named Division 5 Coach of the Year.
“It’s a case of ‘to the victor go the spoils,’ ” said Brusig, a few days after All-CIF teams from division 1-14 were released by Southern Section officials.
In other words, championship teams get first dibs on Player of the Year recognition, plus multiple All-CIF spots.
Jake Henderson was Aquinas’ defensive coordinator, helping for the nucleus of a championship-level defense.
Assistants included Will Seltz, George Anagnostopoulos, Steve Paramo and Anthony Valenzuela who, along with Brusig, worked its way to a 13-3 overall record.
Virtually every coach had an All-CIF player in their group this past season.
All-CIF selections are usually reserved for the very elite players -- virtually all from playoff teams -- throughout the massive 13-division Southern Section.
Pass-rushing phenom Sione Lolohea, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound lineman who had 14 QB sacks, copped the Defensive Player of the Year honors after posting a team-high 143 tackles.
Fleet running back Terayon Sweet (1,328 yards, 21 TDs), who was a force throughout the playoffs, was named Offensive Player of the Year.
Both are seniors.
“Coaches are cool about that,” said Brusig, who assembled with coaches from every division at All-CIF selection held at Corona Santiago High School. Lolohea and Sweet were the lone nominees in the Player of the Year categories.
Throw in a handful of other Falcons who were named All-CIF.
It starts with junior QB Francisco Mauigoa and freshman Francis Mauigoa, who protected both Sweet and its QB.
Playing in just a half-season, Aquinas’ QB completed 79 passes for just over 1,100 yards with a dozen TD passes.
The Mauigoa brothers are both scheduled to return in 2020.
Speedy wide receiver Terance Fall, who is headed for Brigham Young University, caught 39 passes in a mostly ground-oriented attack with five TD receptions.
The All-CIF picks from Aquinas junior linebacker Romeo Ross, rarely tested by opposing QB and was a solid hitter,
Senior defensive lineman Tapena Tuitupou (67 tackles, 4 QB sacks), part of Aquinas’ run-stuffing attack rounded out Aquinas’ All-CIF picks.
* * *
Defending CIF Division 9 champion San Gorgonio, coming off a solid season in 2019, placed four players -- linebackers Desi Gonzalez and Damajae Mitchell, lineman Luther Willis and cornerback Damian Rubio, a repeat selection from 2018 -- on last fall’s All-CIF Division 8 squad.
A near handful of returning players from the Spartans’ 2018 CIF championship team helped fill out last season’s roster in head coach Rich McClure’s third season.
The Spartans lasted until Week 12 until Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills knocked them out at San G’s Phil Haley Stadium.
* * *
Four players from Citrus Valley -- QB Dylan Wheatley and his top receiver, Jordan Scott, blocking force Jared Broadway and linebacker Jacob Moi -- won All-CIF honors in Division 5.
Wheatley set school records with 173 completions, 3,132 yards and 47 TD passes throughout a 12-game junior season.
Scott, a senior, was picked as a defensive back and not a receiver, though 17 of his 48 passes went for TDs on 955 yards.
Broadway was part of a blocking force that protected such combinations as Wheatley-Scott, in addition to WR Ty’jhon Belton and TE Colby Grimes combining on another 71 catches and 1,200 yards.
In addition, senior RB Jordan Garcia-Frye logged in behind the Broadway-led blocking forces for over 1,400 yards rushing.
Moi’s 136 tackles indicated he was one of the team’s top hitters, racking up 2 ? QB sacks for the 10-2 Blackhawks.
It took CIF Player of the Year, RB Malik Sherrod, and his teammate, linebacker Caleb McCullough, who was Defensive Player of the Year, to knock the Blackhawks out of the playoffs in the CIF Division 6 quarterfinals.
It was CIF Coach of the Year Mike Moon who coached that Oxnard Pacifica team, eventually winning the section championship.
On the Feb. 5 signing day committing to college, the Blackhawks landed Scott at Dixie (Utah) State, Moi at University of Texas-El Paso and DE Steven Pollard at Northwest Missouri.
“More signings to come,” said Blackhawks’ coach Kurt Bruich, “in the near future.”
* * *
Footnote: Fullerton Sunny Hills, the CIF Division 8 champion, landed six players on the all-division squad. The coach of the year was Peter Karavedas, who had his father, Nick, on the staff as defensive backs coach.
Nick Karavedas is an Aquinas High School official who coached defensive backs.
Two of Karavedas’ DBs, Wilson Cal and Brandon Roberts, we’re picked All-CIF.
Said Nick Karavedas: “Was the best year of my 27 doing this.”