Each week throughout the high school football season, the 49ers select a high school football player to receive the Player of the Week Award for their commitment and performance on the field, and their leadership off the field. Each winner receives a $500 grant towards their high school football program, the opportunity to participate in a pregame ceremony, and two tickets to 49ers home game. In addition, each player will receive an invitation to attend a 49ers practice where they will be awarded by Coach Jim Harbaugh.
Football is a game of numbers, goals, and commitment. The committed set goals and those goals often surround numbers, whether an athlete aims to gain one more yard, score one more touchdown, record one more victory, or win one more title. As the season came to an end, Bay Area high school football teams battled for that single title—some adding one more to a historic program, or some winning one for the first time.
Defense shone in weeks seven and eight, as St. Francis safety Landon Baty and Archbishop Mitty nose tackle, Daniel Mendoza, drove their teams to another victory by stopping the opposition and opening up plays for a dominating defense. Both three-year varsity starters, Mendoza and Baty have become leaders on the field and on both sides of the ball. When Baty is not forcing turnovers, he is averaging nearly seven yards per carry and returning kickoffs to put points on the scoreboard as running back. Mitty's Daniel Mendoza put an end to St. Francis' streak of success when he blocked what could have been a game-winning field goal with just two seconds left on the clock, sealing a 13-12 victory for the Monarchs. The block was just icing on the cake after an exceptional performance from the lineman.
"It is like having another coach on the field when he is out there," expressed Coach Matt Haniger, "Daniel portrays integrity, leads by his actions, and is one of the most respected guys as a player and a person. We couldn't ask for anymore from him as a player and an athlete as he is always pushing himself to the next level."
As the high school teams prepared for playoffs, Jack Heneghan of the Menlo-Atherton Knights continued to lead his team towards a title. Heneghan truly exemplifies an all-around athlete, applying his heart and morale in all that he does on and off the field. He has become a leader as a quarterback, class president, student, and community serviceman—always eager to take on one more role to help those in need and encourage the able. When it comes to numbers and football, Heneghan is at the top of his class. In the 2013 season, he recorded 2,974 yards in eight and a half games with a sixty-five percent passing rate. In one of his final performances of the season, Heneghan threw for an incredible 391 yards and seven touchdowns, ending the season on a high note in preparation for four years of college ball.
Though the year has wrapped up for most teams in the area, Los Gatos High School aims for one more as running back Joey Wood rushed the Wildcats towards another victory in week two of the playoff run. The Menlo-Atherton defense could not stop the 5 foot 11, 220 pound mass of speed. Wood accumulated 212 yards on 23 carries. In the third quarter, he ran for two touchdowns over 20 yards out, giving the Wildcats an easy grasp on a 35-6 victory. A standout athlete like Wood is sure to lead a team a long way, and come back eager and committed next season.
The on-going goals to improve by one, to take a fifty man roster and play as one, and to play for 1-0 every week keep the numbers of football ever-changing, the game exciting, and the committed engaged. Baty, Mendoza, Heneghan and Wood are just one piece of a full roster, but they relentlessly play for the next yard, teammate, and victory which makes each one of them stand out as elite athletes amongst the hundreds in the area. Whether a team holds a trophy at the end of the season or simply reflects on the pros, cons and improvements to come, a player can look back on a sole performance and feel proud of all they accomplished as an individual, as part of a team, and as they unceasingly played for one more.
*2013 Player of the Week Award Recipients: *
The Football Camp for the Stars
Andrew Celis, Marin-Catholic, Kentfield
Jake Speed, Pacific Grove
Josh Neal, Granite Bay
Squally Canada, Milpitas
Brandon Boyd, Gilroy
Landon Baty, St. Francis
Daniel Mendoza, Archbishop Mitty
Jack Heneghan, Menlo-Atherton
Joey Wood, Los Gatos