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High School Sports

The Times’ high school football player of the year: Mique Juarez of North Torrance

Versatile North Torrance linebacker Mique Juarez has size, strength and speed.

It is not embellishing to call Mique Juarez of North Torrance High a football player with “unique skills.”

How else to explain someone whose future position in college will be linebacker accounting for 60 touchdowns this last season (23 passing, 36 rushing, one kickoff return)?

“He’s remarkable,” Mira Costa Coach Don Morrow said.

Asked to play quarterback because of his versatility, the 6-foot-2, 222-pound senior kept finding ways to contribute even though most opposing coaches designed their defenses to stop him.

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“He impacts every aspect of the game,” North Torrance Coach Todd Croce said. “He’s just a presence the way that teams game plan. You can’t account for a quarterback who can take off any moment and go the distance. He was a game changer.”

On defense, Juarez had 146 tackles, including 21 for losses. He had five sacks and finished with 397 career tackles.

For his versatility and ability to make an impact on both sides of the ball, Juarez has been selected the winner of the Glenn Davis Award as the Los Angeles Times’ high school football player of the year.

Asked about playing on offense and defense, Juarez said, “It’s really about being able to play under control. On offense, you have to play with a mind-set you don’t get touched. On defense, it’s play aggressive and be smart. You have to be in condition.”

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As good as Juarez has been for North Torrance (9-3), it’s his loyalty that will be long remembered. He stayed for four years to play for his neighborhood football team and the school his parents went to.

“You had a lot of things to live up to and a lot of emotion,” he said. “It was awesome to bring a lot of attention to my school. I got to play through the season with no injuries.”

Considered the No. 1 linebacker prospect in the nation, Juarez used to be committed to USC but has been fielding offers from UCLA, Alabama and Oklahoma State, among others.

Croce can’t wait to see what he does playing linebacker at the collegiate level.

“He’s very instinctive and wants to get into every play,” he said. “His motor is great and he wants to go sideline to sideline to track somebody down.”

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATSondheimer


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