Kickers are an integral part of football, to be sure, but rarely does one rate as player of the year.
Chris Sailer of Notre Dame High is an exception.
Sailer and Westlake receiver Billy Miller were named the Southern Section Division III co-players of the year. Hart junior running back Ted Iacenda, who scored an area-record 41 touchdowns this season, earned the honor in Division II.
In setting a state single-season record of 22 field goals, Sailer also tied the career mark of 33; Miller is a top NCAA Division I prospect who caught 67 passes for 1,057 yards and 14 touchdowns. The pair are among 13 area players named to the Division III team.
Sailer, who made all 39 of his extra points, is no ordinary kicker. He converted seven of 11 field-goal attempts from 50 yards or beyond and was named to the All-USA football team selected by USA Today. Nonetheless, the Division III honor came as a surprise to him.
"It shocks me because I really don't do that much," Sailer said. "You see the players out there with blood on them and dirt, and then there's me with the nice clean uniform."
Iacenda, the Indians' leading rusher and receiver with a combined 2,376 yards, is joined by 14 other area players on the Division II team.
Antelope Valley--a 36-15 winner over the Indians in the championship game--and Hart each had four players named to the Division II team. Antelope Valley is represented by junior running back Jermaine Lewis, senior defensive lineman Caleb Smith, senior defensive back Chad Murphy and senior punter Chad Shrout.
Hart boasts junior quarterback Steve McKeon, senior offensive lineman Ryan Schienle and junior linebacker Marc Zimmerman.
Rounding out the Division II team are senior offensive linemen Mark Manskar of Canyon and Mike Martin of Quartz Hill, senior defensive lineman Matt Gillis of Saugus, senior linebackers Lawrence Larry of Littlerock and Chris Hedrick of Crescenta Valley, and senior defensive backs Carlos Baker of Burbank and Damein Kendrid )of Quartz Hill.
In Division III, senior receiver Robbie Brewster, senior defensive lineman Edgar Nava and senior linebacker David Dupetit of Notre Dame all earned distinction.
The other eight area players in Division III include junior running back Jason Giovannettone of Chaminade, senior all-purpose player Craig Walendy of Westlake, senior offensive linemen John Raymond of Buena, Steve Zirnite of Royal and Chadd Kahlsdorf of Ventura, and senior linebackers Eric Guenther of Westlake, Nathan Coyle of Buena and Brian Kavanagh of Simi Valley.
Crespi senior quarterback Dave Lins and senior offensive lineman Kane Cullum were named to the Division I team.