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DL: Robert Brown, Carmel
DL: Noah Habes, Salinas
DL: Sione Kamitoni, Seaside
DL: DeMarcus Hawkins, Seaside
LB: Hunter Mason, Salinas
LB: Jacob Olivas, Soledad
LB: Drew Schuler, Salinas
LB: PJ Schlegel, Palma
DB: Zach DeZee, Carmel
DB: Daniel Sayre, Seaside
DB: Tim Hunter, North Salinas
DB: Kelly McDermott, Salinas
Utility: Michael Ramirez, Alvarez
Utility: Robbie Santa Ana, Soledad
Head coach: Steve Zenk, Salinas
DeMarcus Hawkins left an impression on opponents — figuratively and literally — as he showcased highlight-reel outings each weekend.
Not since the days when Washington Redskins linebacker Mason Foster shined for Seaside High have we seen one player dominate two sides of the ball as Hawkins did this past fall.
The Seaside defensive end often finished games exhausted — that will happen when you’re involved in more than 100 plays each contest.
“I had a responsibility to this football team,” Hawkins said. “I had to push through games. I was winded at times, but I wasn’t coming out. That’s not who I am.”
Exhausted or not, Hawkins was the best of the best when it came to wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. Today, the Herald names him its All-County Defensive Player of the Year.
“I wanted 23 sacks,” said Hawkins, who is just 17. “I wanted that school record.”
Instead, Hawkins rushed for 23 touchdowns and nearly 1,700 yards on offense. Yet, the extra workload wasn’t the reason he wasn’t able to match his defensive numbers from 2016.
Rather, it was teams double teaming him on defense, refusing to let one player dictate the tempo or determine the game.
“All our preparation was focused around DeMarcus — on both sides of the ball,” Palma coach Jeff Carnazzo said. “We schemed our gameplan to run in the opposite direction of him on every play.”
By most players standards, Hawkins put up big numbers, finishing with 101 tackles and 11 sacks for the Spartans.
“Elite players sometimes tend to take plays off,” Salinas coach Steve Zenk said. “You didn’t see that with DeMarcus.”
Understanding that he would see significant action on both sides of the ball, Hawkins got himself in the best shape of his life. He was prepared to play every snap, if need be.
The amount of hits his body absorbed from three and sometimes four players trying to tackle him didn’t keep him from getting his share of licks on defense.
“I had to go both ways for my team,” Hawkins said. “I wanted to do it. I wanted to win. That was the most important thing for me.”
Bumped to the Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division this year after winning the Pacific Division title in 2016, the Spartans won six games and reached the postseason before falling to Palma for a second time.
An injury to his foot slowed down the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Hawkins in the postseason. But it still did not keep him off the field.
“He’s a Mason Foster-type player,” Carnazzo said. “DeMarcus is a physical force on both sides of the ball.”
Foster played quarterback and linebacker on Seaside’s first Central Coast Section title team in 2006, and is in his seventh year in the NFL.
While Hawkins relished carrying the ball 164 times this past fall, he’s never questioned that his future remains as a pass rushing demon at the collegiate level.
Over two seasons, Hawkins has compiled 29 sacks and more than 200 tackles for Seaside, coming off the edge with a fierce rage of fire.
“Defense is all I have ever done at practice,” Hawkins said. “My coaches have pushed it. I love the intensity of defense. You get to attack the football and get it back.”
The passion Hawkins has for the sport wasn’t always there. It wasn’t until he was brought up as a sophomore that he began to realize his potential.
“I was chubby and fat as a freshmen,” Hawkins said. “I didn’t work out as much. But when I got called up as a sophomore, that’s when I started to take it seriously.”
When double teams didn’t work in containing Hawkins, opponents began running away from the pass rusher. But his pursuit of the ball was relentless.
“My mindset was: ‘I have to get around the edge,’” Hawkins said. “I’d use my speed and hands to get around them. I want that tackle. I want that sack. If not, someone else is going to get it.”
Hawkins’ future will include playing collegiate football. He has received interest from numerous schools, including San Jose State.
“Most colleges I’ve talked to see me as a pass rusher,” Hawkins said. “And that’s perfect because that is what I see myself as. All of them want me to put on more weight.”
Despite the big numbers on both sides of the ball, Hawkins felt unsatisfied with his effort. He wanted more. He expected more.
“I could have had a better year,” Hawkins said. “I felt I could have pushed myself more. I was trying. I never asked to come out. Coach (Al) Avila built a Warrior in me.”
Contact John Devine at 831-726-4337.