Senior Marcus Harrell returns a punt during the season opener
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During the 2011 season, Christopher High football player Marcus Harrell scored touchdowns five different ways – receiving, rushing, passing, interception return and punt return – making him one of the toughest players to keep track of on the turf. Stop him one way, he’ll hurt you another.

Harrell routinely caught the attention of opposing Monterey Bay League coaches and was unanimously named the MBL Most Valuable Player, head coach Tim Pierleoni announced Tuesday.

“He has made huge improvements over the past couple of years to get himself to the point of being a leader,” Pierleoni said. “Kids wanted to follow him this season. He is a fine young man and a phenomenal athlete.”

In all, 17 different Cougars corralled league awards, including seven first-team recipients – Harrell (offense) Nic Slater (running back – 1,095 rushing yards and 17 TDs and 385 receiving yards and three TDs), Brandon Pickens (quarterback – 2,794 yards and 31 TDs), Dillon Babb (12 sacks), Bryant Cid (nine interceptions), Patrick Mank (team-high 124 tackles), Mikey Pirnik (105 tackles) – and six second-team selections – Tyler DeCarlo (offensive lineman), Stevie White (offensive lineman), Nadar Elaskary (offense), Tomas Zamora (offensive lineman), Matt Almeida (seven sacks) and John Riffle (defensive line.) Manny Avila, Scott Rathi, Nick Cordova and Takoda Bowers made the Honorable Mention List.

“We were blessed with a lot of talented players this year,” said Pierleoni, whose 10-win Cougars grabbed a share of the MBL league and advanced to the Central Coast Section Division III semifinals. “This is a good way to finish it up.”

Harrell had a knack for creating the big play, and more specific, turning plays that appeared to be headed for minimal yardage into big gainers. Among the variety of scoring plays on his resume, there’s a 100-yard interception return for touchdown against Del Mar in the first round of the Central Coast Section playoffs, two punt return touchdowns and 12 receiving touchdowns – the second most in the MBL. The numbers don’t stop there. Harrell compiled a team-high 1,066 receiving yards, completed 4-fof-4 passes for 138 yards, 100 rushing yards, and he was second on the team with four interceptions behind Cid.

Speaking of Cid, who was also nominated for the league MVP award, instead earned his second consecutive Defensive Back MVP honor.

“Cid is just an all-around special player,” Pierleoni said. “He is such a tenacious defender.”

The senior picked off a league-best nine passes, including four against Gilroy in the Severance Bowl, and added 86 tackles from his safety position. On offense, Cid caught 45 balls for 880 yards and 11 touchdowns.

In addition to his first-team selection, Babb, whose 104 tackles from defensive end was third most on the team, was named the Most Valuable Defensive Lineman.

“Coming back from two knee surgeries to have the season that he did was great to see,” Pierleoni said.

Monterey head coach Tom Newton, Monte Vista Christian’s David Reese and Pierleoni, whose teams shared the MBL crown, were voted co-Coaches of the Year. It is Pierleoni’s second consecutive.

“Great players make us coaches,” Pierleoni said. “It’s all about them.”

Monterey Bay League Awards:

MVP: Marcus Harrell – Christopher

Offensive Player of the Year: Taylor Cohan – Monte Vista Christian School

Defensive Player of the Year:  Shaunne Katoa – Monterey

Most Valuable running backs: Mike Lopez – North County and Fabian Serrano – Watsonville

Most Valuable Defensive Back:  Bryant Cid – Christopher

Most Valuable Offensive lineman: Fine Latu – Monterey

Most Valuable Devensive lineman: Dillion Babb – Christopher

Specialty player: Josh Mooney – Monte Vista Christian School

Most Valuable underclassman: Jimmy Hill – Monterey

Top newcomer:  Brandon Finona – Monterey

Coaches of the Year: Tom Newton – Monterey, Tim Pierleoni – Christopher, David Reese – Monte Vista Christian School

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