Because the SBLive crew gets so immersed in specific sports seasons, it is nice to take a step back to pick a Section honor on a broader scale.
The criteria isn’t too expansive: The starting point is finding athletes who are all-league/all-state performers. Totality of career is also a factor as is winning. Administrator/coach/fan recommendation plays a role as well.
Enjoy as we honor some of California’s top athletes!
It didn’t take long for Jax Leatherwood to make a name for himself in his first year under center for Scripps Ranch in 2021.
In his second career start, Leatherwood helped guide the Falcons to a 52-51 shootout victory over La Jolla. Leatherwood completed 30 of 49 passes that night for 363 yards and four touchdowns in what would be the start of a monster year.
“We knew it would be special after our regular season win against La Jolla,” Leatherwood said. “After that game, we knew that nobody could stop us from being state champions.”
Scripps Ranch finished the regular season at 8-1 while Leatherwood finished the regular season with 37 touchdown passes and zero interceptions.
His only two interceptions all season came in a 27-7 victory over Central in round one of the San Diego Section playoffs. Leatherwood saved two of his best games of the season for last, combining to throw for nine touchdowns and over 800 yards in wins over Valencia and Wilcox in the state playoffs. In the CIF Division 2-A state championship game, Leatherwood’s last minute touchdown drive secured a 31-28 win for the Falcons, giving him 52 touchdown passes and just under 4,000 passing yards for the year.
Shortly after football season, the six-foot-six Leatherwood headed to the hardwood where he helped the Scripps Ranch basketball team capture the CIF Division 4 state championship with a 46-37 win over Justin-Siena in the final at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center.
“It was difficult to get in the swing of a new sports season, but I picked it up decently quick,” Leatherwood said.
Leatherwood had seven points, six rebounds and eight blocks in the championship game, helping Scripps Ranch become just the fourth team in California history to win a state championship in football and basketball in the same season.
“The last year has been like a movie,” Leatherwood said this week. “Everything has gone right and I’m so grateful for all the experiences that I’ve been able to take part in!”
After basketball season, Leatherwood stayed in the gym joining the volleyball team in late February. He finished off his junior season by leading the team with 220 kills before their season ended with a loss to eventual champion Catholic Cathedral in the semifinals of the Open Division playoffs.
“The different sports all require different skills that all make me a better athlete overall,” Leatherwood said.
Leatherwood and the Scripps Ranch football team will have their work cut out for them this season after moving up to Division 1 in the San Diego Section and joining the loaded Western League, but they’ll be up for the challenge.
“I don’t feel pressure about delivering in my senior season,” Leatherwood said. “I’m just going to do whatever I can help my team succeed.”
School: Scripps Ranch
Sports: Football, basketball, volleyball
Next step: Committed to play football at Nevada
Season highlights and accolades: San Diego Section 1st team All-CIF Football selection, CIF San Diego Section Division 2 football champion, CIF D2-A state football champion, CIF D4 state basketball champion, San Diego Section 1st team All-CIF volleyball selection.
PAST SBLIVE ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
Central Section Male: Nate Johnson, Clovis
Central Section Female: Jazmine Soto, Strathmore
Central Coast Section Male: Mikey Mitchell Jr., Archbishop Mitty
Central Coast Section Female: Jessica Oakland, St. Francis
LA City Section Male: Dylan Kordic, San Pedro
LA City Section Female: Jillian Kelly, El Camino Real
North Coast Section Male: Nico Torrez, De La Salle
North Coast Section Female: Natalie Pasco, San Ramon Valley
Sac-Joaquin Section Male: Jadyn Marshall, Stockton St. Mary’s
Sac-Joaquin Section Female: Jzaniya Harriel, Antelope
San Diego Section Male: Nick Herrmann, Torrey Pines
San Diego Section Female: Elise Miller, San Pasqual
Southern Section Male: Thomas Southey, Mira Costa
Southern Section Female: Alyssa Thompson, Harvard-Westlake