Now that the 2011-2012 school year is underway and we’ve kicked off the football season, it’s time to look ahead and see who might be the athletes who may make a difference for their teams this season locally.
There’s far too many good athletes to list all of them here, but we’ve decided there were a few who, barring injury or other factors, could stand above the crowd in the next nine months.
Cody Demps – Pleasant Grove football and basketball
He’s the quarterback on the Eagles’ highly touted football team, but he’ll be the guy spearheading what should be a very good basketball team at Pleasant Grove this winter. At 6-4, he can play just about anywhere on the court.
If the football squad does indeed play deep into the playoffs, as expected, Demps and the Eagles may start a little slow when basketball season begins in December, but they’ll be competing for the Delta River League title on the hardcourts in February.
Kyi Thomas – Sheldon football and basketball
If last Friday is any indication, Thomas will get lots of touches on the football field this season, but basketball coach Joey Rollings will count on Thomas to lead the Huskies on the court when they prepare to defend their Sac-Joaquin Section title.
Thomas is the guy who really moves the ball up and down the floor for the basketball team and may be the most athletic member of the squad. He, along with Dakari Allen, D’Erryl Williams and Ryan Manning are so good that they’ll have Sheldon fans forget who Darius Nelson and Ramon Eaton were.
Nick Martinez – Elk Grove Track and Field
It’s been almost ten years since any athlete from Elk Grove Unified School District won an event at the state track and field meet. Martinez could do it in two events this spring.
He was third at the state meet last year in the 300 meter hurdles and competed in the 100 meter hurdle event, too. He’s our area’s most gifted trackster and will draw the attention of many collegiate track coaches.
Martin Ramirez – Elk Grove wrestling
There’s been only five boys from Elk Grove win a state championship in wrestling. Ramirez, who was third last year at 125 pounds, could be the sixth. Barring injury he’ll likely win his weight group at the Section Masters’ meet for a third time.
He and Josh Letuligasenoa will lead the Herd wrestlers this winter to another Delta Valley Conference championship and probably a high finish in the Section dual meet, like usual. Letuligasenoa meanwhile is the Herd’s top linebacker on a very good football team at Elk Grove.
Meshalon Moore – Sheldon softball
With older sister Dejanee and third baseman Danielle Henderson off to college, it’s “Meme’s” turn to lead the Lady Huskies. They’ve won three Section championships the past five seasons and Meme is going to be the top bat this spring for head coach Mary Jo Truesdale. She batted .380 a year ago.
With pitcher Alexis Cooper (24-6, 1.64 ERA) and outfielder Danielle Wiltz (.414 avg.) also in the lineup, Sheldon will be the odds-on favorite to repeat as Section winner come May.
Theo Johnson – Franklin basketball
Even though brothers Ike and Uchenna Iroegbu have transferred to other high schools, the Wildcats will once again be one of the top DVC teams. That’s because the long and tall Johnson returns in the post.
Rowdy Tellez – Elk Grove baseball
He’s just a junior, but already has drawn the attention of many pro scouts because of his 6-5, 220-pound frame. He hit nine homers and batted over .500 last season for the Herd, but developed into a good pitcher.
Now that J.D. Davis is graduated and off to Cal State – Fullerton, Tellez will be the ace of the staff. That’s a pretty good accomplishment for a young man who barely pitched at all two seasons ago. He along with Team USA member Dom Nunez will lead a very potent Elk Grove baseball team, hoping to grab the Section title for the first time since 2007.
Tyler Blake – Franklin baseball
Also a tall first baseman/pitcher and a junior, Blake’s presence in the Wildcat lineup keeps Franklin in the picture for the DVC baseball championship this year.
Blake will be a regular starter on the mound where’s he’s excelled the past two seasons. He’s 9-0 over that span. He may be one of the best contact hitters locally. Last season he batted .506 and, at 6-5 he’s a huge target for infielders throwing to first base.
Arik Armstead – Pleasant Grove football and basketball
He’s drawn lots of national attention thanks to the recent game on ESPN and deservedly so. At 6-7, 285 he’s a man amongst boys on the football field, but he’s also going to do the same thing on the basketball court for the Eagles – as long as future college coach Lane Kiffin allows it.
The USC head football coach may not like a prized recruit, like Armstead, playing roundball in the winter. Pleasant Grove will be the main competition for Sheldon for the DRL title this winter, especially if Armstead is in the post.
Ashlee Jones – Bradshaw Christian basketball
The Lady Pride hope to make it five small-school Section championships in a row this winter, but they’ll have to do it on the back of Ashlee Jones. With four-year starters Fernandi Espinosa, Lauren Beyer and Jordie Smith now all in college, Jones and several new faces will have their work cut out for them.
A year ago Jones was a key outside shooter and perhaps the Pride’s top defender.