20 Class 6A defensive player of the year candidates in Oregon high school football

By René Ferrán

SBLive will be coordinating the balloting for the official Class 6A, 5A and 4A all-state teams that will be published on SBLive Oregon and OregonLive next month. Coaches will be voting for the all-state teams in football, volleyball, and boys and girls soccer in the next couple of weeks, with the announcements coming in mid-December.

In anticipation of the all-state football awards, we wanted to offer our thoughts on who the coaches would consider their favorites for the big honors — classification offensive and defensive players of the year.

We made our predictions in the preseason, and while many find themselves on this list, many contenders have emerged over the course of the past 12 weeks.

Here’s a look at 20 of the likely top candidates for Class 6A defensive player of the year.

Drew Bennett (Westview) photo by Taylor Balkom

S Drew Bennett, Sr., Westview

Bennett leads the state with eight interceptions, two coming during the playoffs, and he returned three for touchdowns. He finished third on the Wildcats with 49 tackles in being named Metro League co-defensive player of the year.

DT Tiger Black, Jr., Roseburg

Black led the Southwest Conference with 4.5 sacks and emerged as a leader on a defense that allowed just 13.8 points per game, earning conference defensive player of the year honors.

LB Jack Clemans, Sr., Summit

Clemans became the anchor of 6A’s stingiest defense (8.8 points per game through two playoff rounds) in winning Mountain Valley defensive player of the year honors. 

LB Andrew Collins, Sr., Barlow

Among all the defensive stars in the Mt. Hood Conference, it was the Bruins linebacker who led the conference with 80 tackles, including six for loss.

LB Hudson Davis, Jr., Newberg

Davis led the Pacific Conference with 93 tackles (second among 6A teams that reported defensive statistics), including 10 for loss, in being named the conference’s defensive player of the year.

LB Seth Glenn, Sr., Sherwood

Glenn was the fiery leader of a Bowmen defense that helped the team rebound to become the first 6A team in state history to reach the quarterfinals after an 0-4 start. He had a team-high 87 tackles and three sacks through two playoff rounds.

LB Kellen Hale, Sr., Tualatin

Hale is a playmaker in the middle of the Timberwolves defense, leading the team with eight tackles for loss and a Three Rivers League-leading seven sacks.

LB Earl Ingle, Jr., West Linn

Our preseason pick for 6A defensive player of the year doesn’t have gaudy numbers (61 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks, three interceptions), but the Three Rivers League co-defensive player of the year seemingly makes two or three big plays every game.

CB Zach Larson, Sr., Lakeridge

Larson had 52 tackles and a team-high five interceptions, including a key takeaway in the Pacers’ 40-7 second-round win at Sheldon.

S Dylan Layne, Sr., Lake Oswego

Layne emerged as one of the state’s top defensive recruits during the fall, making five interceptions during the regular season.

LB Luke Leighton, Jr., Sheldon

Leighton became the leader of the Irish defense this season, finishing with 68 tackles (five for loss) and two interceptions.

LB Kaden Ludwick, Sr., Clackamas

The Colorado commit earned Mt. Hood Conference defensive player of the year honors, leading the conference with six sacks during the regular season among his eight tackles for loss.

DL Gavin McGuire, Sr., Lake Oswego

McGuire’s older brother, Marshall, was a two-time all-state selection, and Gavin should soon join him in the record books after a banner senior season in which he led the Lakers with 6.5 sacks among his 43 tackles and was named Three Rivers co-defensive lineman of the year.

LB Johnny Miller, Sr., Jesuit

On a defense loaded with talent at the linebacker position, Miller emerged as the leader, earning Metro League co-defensive player of the year honors.

DL Noah Preuitt, Sr., Clackamas

No one on the Cavaliers defense put up huge numbers, but Preuitt led the team in tackles (47) and tackles for loss (conference-leading 10) while also finishing with five sacks during the regular season.

DL Nui Tovey, Sr., Lakeridge

Tovey lived in opposing backfields for much of the season, leading Class 6A with 16 tackles for loss among his 80 total tackles. He also had 6.5 sacks and shared Three Rivers defensive lineman of the year honors.  

DL Martin Trujillo, Sr., West Salem

Trujillo led the Mountain Valley with 71 tackles, including 6.5 for loss, in helping lead the Titans to the conference title.

LB Max von Arx, Sr., Grant

While junior teammate Jayden Moses draws the attention of college recruiters, it was von Arx who won PIL co-defensive player of the year honors for the league co-champions.

LB Zac Waible, Sr., Lakeridge

Waible’s nonstop energy fueled the Pacers defense as he finished with a Class 6A-leading 120 tackles (10 for loss) and two sacks in earning Three Rivers League co-defensive player of the year recognition.

LB Emar’rion Winston, Sr., Central Catholic

Winston, an Oregon commit, made big plays in key moments for the Rams. He led the team with five sacks during the regular season, and he had two sacks in a quarterfinal win over Sherwood.

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