Player Of The Year: Javon McKinley
Corona Centennial’s 6-foot-4 receiver dominated the PAC-5’s best defensive backs, getting better with each game until the Huskies reached the CIF-State title game — the big kahuna — vs. Concord De La Salle.
“He’s played great this year. Up and beyond expectation,” Centennial head coach Matt Logan said.
To say he’s a college recruit is an understatement. He’s among the most sought-after wide outs in the country, would be welcomed anywhere with his 4.0 GPA, and is FOMB’s 2014 Inland Area Prep Football Player Of The Year.
But McKinley’s legend may have begun in Week 11 when he had a season-high 14 receptions for 240 yards and four TDs in the PAC-5 playoff opener vs. Gardena Serra.
Then it was six catches for 187 yards and one TD in a narrow win over Santa Ana Mater Dei, followed by 11 grabs for 282 yards and three TDs to beat La Puente Bishop Amat in the semifinals.
And what does McKinley do in the CIF-Southern Section title game? Just make 13 catches for 151 yards and one TD in a crazy 48-41 win over over Bellflower St. John Bosco in the section final.
Over the four-game stretch he had 44 catches for 860 yards and nine TDs. And that was following a regular season in which he finished with 47 grabs and more than 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Big VIII League champion.
I caught up with McKinley following Centennial’s 41-9 victory over Riverside King on Oct. 10, 2014.
He had had nine receptions for 162 yards and four TDs in Week 5 vs. Valencia, and made six grabs for 147 yards and two TDs in Week 6 vs. King.
As they usually do, the Huskies (12-3 overall) had started slowly against King, allowing the Wolves just a twinge of hope before crushing them completely for the umpteenth time in the league opener for both teams.
“I think it’s just — coaches said we start off slow against King — and that really showed tonight. We picked it up at the end of the second quarter and in the second half,” said McKinley, already a polished post-game performer as well.
“I think we came out flat because we were done with the PAC-5 non-league start, and because we usually run league so we came out slow,” he said. “It was a little mental lapse this week.”
And just early October, McKinley already was interested in talking about the Huskies’ postseason possibilities.
“Hopefully we make a run for the money and so our thing against the PAC-5,” he said.
McKinley made a acrobatic leaping catch for his first touchdown vs. King — “I knew that they were attacking me so I had to make a play; Just do what we practice.” — and was confident in his role with the Huskies — “I think I’ve been progressing a lot in this offense.”
A 16-year-old junior, there’s little way around a conversation regarding his impending value. He could end up as many things, including Centennial’s most-recruited player to date.
“The goal for me is that I really want the record for receiving at this school,” said McKinley before adding “Also, just want to get my name out there and be the best I can be.”
Goals No. 1 & No. 2 have been accomplished. Goal No. 3 is all No. 88.