Downey, Beyer and Modesto high schools shared the Modesto Metro Conference title two seasons ago and, as expected, battled for the league crown down to the final week of the 2016 season.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that the Knights, Patriots and Panthers dominated the MMC’s postseason awards.
Downey running back Malcome Green was named the MVP, while teammates Calvin Grover, Aaric Holt and Tyler Bowers were tabbed Outstanding Offensive Player and Outstanding Defensive Player and Outstanding Offensive Lineman.
Modesto sophomore Zaire Eugene was named the Outstanding Back/Receiver and teammate Markus Brady the Outstanding Special Teams Player.
Beyer’s D.J. Jackson was chosen the Outstanding Linebacker/Defensive Back and teammate Dylan Weltmer the Outstanding Defensive Lineman.
It’s very exciting and a great achievement. It was on my list at the start of the season but not at the top of the list. I was more worried about team wins.
Malcome Green, Downey running back, on his MMC MVP award
Downey’s Jeremy Plaa, who guided the Knights to a fifth consecutive league title, was named Coach of the Year.
The Knights are known for their spread offense, in which the quarterback has thrown for at least 2,600 yards and 28 touchdowns five of the last six seasons. Quarterback Brett Neves accomplished that feat in 2015 and ’16, but Green made the Knights shine this year.
“I’d have said that it was even odds,” Plaa said of the senior’s MVP chances. “I knew that Malcome was kind of the hidden piece since he was hurt and missed half of last year. He didn’t have the stats coming in. But I knew that he was capable of having a year like this.”
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Green rushed for 1,107 yards on 151 attempts, a 7.3-yard average, and 12 touchdowns. He also caught 30 passes for 427 yards, a 14.2-yard average, and three scores.
In the season opener against Pitman, The Modesto Bee’s No. 1 large-school team most of the season, Green returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown.
“He didn’t get kicked to hardly at all after that,” Plaa said.
As a defensive back, Green had four passes defended and seven tackles.
“It’s very exciting and a great achievement,” Greene, who is getting recruiting attention from Sacramento State and Montana, said of the MVP honor. “It was on my list at the start of the season but not at the top of the list. I was more worried about team wins.”
Malcome doesn’t shy away from the big moment. He’s big and physical, he runs hard, can catch the ball out of the backfield or as a receiver, he can play defense and he can return the ball.
Jeremy Plaa, Downey coach, on Malcome Green
Green, who rushed for 41 yards and caught six passes for 123 yards against four-time defending state champ Central Catholic in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoff opener, gladly would relinquish the award to still be playing football.
“Of course,” he said. “Without a doubt. But overall it was a successful season. Our first goal was to win the MMC championship and then get to playoffs. It’s not good that we lost, but it is what it is.”
Green’s biggest game came in the regular-season finale against Gregori with the outright MMC title at stake. He rushed for 222 yards, including a 90-yard touchdown, on 17 carries and caught two passes for 27 yards in the Knights’ 44-0 win.
“Malcome doesn’t shy away from the big moment,” Plaa said. “He’s big and physical, he runs hard, can catch the ball out of the backfield or as a receiver, he can play defense and he can return the ball.
“People don’t realize how big he is until they get next to him. He’s a solid, 6-1, 195. He makes guys miss, he runs over guys and he runs away from people. He just put it all together this year.”