November 21, 2013
SacBee peek at the area's all-time high school greatest defensive linemen

In going with the theme of this week's SacBee story on Burbank High School's Ngalu Tapa, we offer a list of some of the greatest prep defensive linemen in regional history.

Keep in mind that this list is based on high school achievements and what they did beyond is pure bonus.

So, Charles Mann didn't make this cut because he was not a dominant defender at Valley High in the late 1970s, but he became one at Nevada and in the NFL (Chris Ault discovered him when Valley coach Dave Hoskins urged him to look at film)...

We unearthed a healthy list, but didn't list every all-league stopper over the past 60 years.

Name High School Senior Year

Gary Anderson Placer 1973
Also dominant on the O-line, Anderson was a state wrestling champion who went to Stanford.

Armond Armstead Pleasant Grove 2007
A national recruit who went to USC and now is employed by the Patriots, Armstead emerged as the first big star for new-school Pleasant Grove.

Arik Armstead Pleasant Grove 2010
A two-way standout in the trenches and the No. 1 lineman recruit in the country as a senior, younger brother to Arik Armstead forged his own legacy; now at Oregon

Brian Bailey Cordova 1976
Line leader for the '75 Lancers team that finished No. 1 in the country and for section's first D-I title team in '76.

Justin Bannan Bella Vista 1996
An all-time program great who still makes a living as a run-stopper in the NFL; overpowered foes then and now

Tedy Bruschi Roseville 1990
The Bee's No. 1 all-time prep player in a Top 100 list from 2000, and it might still hold true; NCAA records and 3 Super Bowl rings.

James Campen Ponderosa 1979
Before he willed himself into the NFL and was Brett Favre's first long-standing center, he buckled foes with the Bruins.

John Cartwright Christian Brothers 1972
A 3-time All-Metro player, JC averaged 15 tackles for the Falcons glory-day teams; good luck dealing with him.

Zack Claiborne Oak Ridge 2012
Undersized with a huge motor, ZC set an area record with 25 sacks for a 12-2 team by using wrestling moves to evade blockers.

Gene Cronin McClatchy 1951
Yes, we're going OLD school here as he warmed up on high school teams before a 6-year NFL career.

Ferric Collons Jesuit 1986
Mobile, long, strong and loved to chase quarterbacks; Collons had offers from across the country and logged 5 NFL seasons.

Dave Cusano Folsom 1984
Perhaps the region's top nose guard of the decade, he was the SupCal Player of the Year for small schools.

John Didion Woodland 1964
Forever an all-time Wolves great who switched to LB at Oregon State and for 5 NFL seasons, including Vince Lombardi's last in Washington.

Jason Fisk Davis 1989
Was mobile enough to get short-yardage handoffs, too, but was especially dominant on D; 12-years in the NFL.

Mike Flanagan Rio Americano 1990
Made all state for his relentless pass rush, and was equally dominant on the O-line; played 9 NFL seasons.

Percy Green Sacramento 1962
Scary fast and strong at 225 pounds and still a legend in area bars; can't beat the name, either.

Andrew Jackson, Nevada Union 2005
Bee Player of the Year for a D-I section title club who went on to earn All-Conference accolades at Fresno State.

Puka Lopa Grant 2010
Hardly seemed fair that he was chasing QB's at the same time Vei Moala was, too. Had 22 sacks for 13-1 team; now at Cal

Trevor Matich Rio Americano 1978
Could punish preps on either side of the ball; BYU stardom and then a long NFL career on the O-line.

Dan McQuaid Delta 1978
A destroyer in the trenchers for the small-school championship Saints; played four seasons in the NFL.

Vei Moala Grant 2010
Incredible strength in the middle, Moala was a mauler for the state's top-ranked team through 13 weeks; now at Cal.

Sean Nill Laguna Creek 2008
Undersized with a large diesel engine under his heart as the spirit and soul of the best Cardinals team. Was even better in theatre

Mitch Quist Elk Grove 2000
Brutish on either side of the ball who played in two section title games, winning one. Legend was he ate gravel for fun.

Brica Ragster Christian Brothers 1973
All-time defensive name had a remarkable 200 tackles as a senior, thanks to non-stop motor.

Clyde Sanders Grant 1994
Set Grant sack records as a DT with 18 and forced 9 fumbles as a senior in overpowering foes before going to Colorado.

Ryan Shea El Camino 1986
Dominant on both sides of the ball, including defensive tackle, Shea turned down Cal to play at Stanford.

Bill Sherman Del Oro 2005
Defensive leader and Bee Player of the Year for a 13-0 section title team who went on to play at Sacramento State.

John Tregalles Cordova 1985
Best defensive player on the section's first 14-0 team; nasty mean streak overwhelmed foes.

Eddie Vanderdoes Placer 2012
Explosive, quick, powerful, dominant, EVD has continued right into the college game at UCLA.

- Joe Davidson
- On Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD
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Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at or

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