By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
CRESCENT CITY Following successful campaigns, the Del Norte High volleyball and football teams garnered several Big 5 Conference honors.
In football, senior quarterback Chad Freeman was named most valuable offensive player of the year. Senior Trevor Rook, who played both defensive back and running back was named defensive MVP of the year. Rook was named offensive MVP last season.
In volleyball, senior setter Deja Hartwick was named the league's most valuable player. Last year, she was named co-league MVP.
In football, Freeman and Rook were named to the all-league White Stars team as were six other members of the Warriors. Named all league were junior Cody Hoffman, junior Roger McCovey, senior James Sampier, senior Saxon Schultz, senior Matt Wakefield and senior Jake Young.
For the volleyball team, White Stars were awarded to Hartwick, junior Tabitha Hillman and junior Ashley Owen.
Both squads also earned several honorable mentions.
Named to the Big 5 football honorable mention team were junior Tanner Brown, senior Phillip Bailey, junior Travis Coulson, junior Taylor Duncan, senior Brent Morrison and senior Trevor Nimrod.
Honorable mentions for volleyball were juniors Lisa Daniels, Krista Haban and Jessica Morrow.
The football Warriors had an incredible year, which just ended on Saturday with a near-win against North Coast Section power Novato 18-14 in the semifinals of the NCS playoffs.
Del Norte finished the season 11-1 and cruised through the Big 5, winning its third strength conference crown.
The Warriors were dominant all year, rolling through the conference with a combination of a stingy defense and juggernaut offense.
A key component on both sides of the ball, but especially in the crucial position of quarterback, was Freeman, a three year starter.
He wowed fans and frustrated opposing teams all year with his ability to stay cool and collected in the pocket, and find the open man down the field.
In the regular season, he threw for more than 1,000 yards, had 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He was terrific in the postseason including throwing for four touchdowns and running in for another score against Fortuna in the first round of the NCS playoffs. Besides his arm, he also could beat teams with his feet as demonstrated by his seven rushing touchdown in the regular season. He also was a starter on defense for the Warriors.
"He had a great season," head coach Lewis Nova said. "He can hurt you either by running or passing the ball." Rook, was known on offensive as a exceptional runner and rushed for 950 yards and 14 touchdowns in the regular season.
On defense, he was a total force as a defensive back and was known around the Big 5 as a shutdown corner.
Nova said Rook covered the other teams best receiver.
"He always came through," Nova said. "You knew that half of the field was taken care of."
Nova said he was pleased his team gained so many league honors and said it was positive reflection on the great year his squad had.
But at the same time, the individual honors are "a double edge sword," Nova said.
This is because while the individual players chosen were critical to the Warriors success, football is a team sport and each player on the team made vital contributions to help the team win throughout the year, he said.
The volleyball squad continued in the extraordinary tradition of the program with another successful season.
The squad finished the regular season 20-8 and went 8-0 in the Big 5, gaining their 19th straight conference crown. Del Norte ended the season with a NCS playoff loss to Terra Linda at home.
A major component to the team's success was Hartwick, the lone senior on the squad.
Her experience, dedication and leadership on and off the court was a key reason the team had another successful season, head coach Meagan Curtis said.
She said Hartwick has made volleyball her sole sport and trains year round, including taking part in a summer weight lifting program.
Curtis said Hartwick did not miss a minute of practice or game time, and was the squad's team captain.
"She definitely deserved (league MVP), Curtis said. "There was no other clear cut choice." Recently, Hartwick signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at Chico State University.
"We're really excited to have had the opportunity to have coached her and are really excited to watch her play at Chico State," Curtis said.