Forty-three receptions, 873 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns. Those are the very impressive offensive statistics for Glacier Peak’s Sean Elledge this season.
But Elledge isn’t being honored for his offense. He is The Herald’s Defensive Player of the Year.
The senior played key roles offensively and defensively on a Grizzlies team that won both the 3A Wesco South title and the Wesco 3A championship and made it to the second round of the state playoffs before running into powerhouse Mount Si. Elledge garnered the most attention for what he did on the offensive side of the football, but his defense didn’t get overlooked by the coaches around the area, who along with The Herald staff voted him this award.
“I was pretty excited,” Elledge said, reflecting upon when he learned of the award. “I was pretty shocked. I didn’t think I was going to be the defensive player of the year. I thought I had a better shot at winning the offense. But I was pretty stoked to be the defensive all-area player of the year. It’s pretty cool.”
Elledge, who plays wide receiver and defensive back, said he has never been able to decide which side of the ball he likes better.
“I don’t know,” he said. “This is kind of how I look at it. I like both of them because I like to score the TD’s. That’s cool. But I also like to hit people. So I’ve never really made my mind up if I’m truly a defensive player or offensive player.”
Looking at Elledge’s defensive statistics, it’s not hard to understand why he earned top honors for his defensive skills. He led the Grizzlies with 94 tackles this season, had two sacks, five forced fumbles and made two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown that helped clinch a 49-40 victory over Marysville Pilchuck in the Wesco 3A championship game.
And he did it all playing strong safety for the first time in his high-school career.
“I think the biggest thing with Sean is his toughness,” Glacier Peak coach Rory Rosenbach said. “Not only physical toughness, but mental toughness and that attitude that you are not going to beat me, ever, no matter what. And if you do than I’m going to come back and get you. I think that’s the biggest thing for him is just that drive and that attitude that he’s not going to let anyone beat him and if they do, he’s not going to beat him more than once.”
Elledge’s drive to succeed took him to the top of Glacier Peak’s record books in many categories, both on offense and defense.
Defensively, He ranks second all-time in tackles (194), first in interceptions (10) and first in pass breakups (41). Offensively, he is third all-time in receiving yards (2,105), second in receptions (141), second in receiving touchdowns (26), fourth in rushing yards (504), second in total touchdowns (35) and first in all-purpose yards (3,501).
Elledge’s defensive talents are what might allow him to keep playing football at the college level.
“I would say this, if he plays football at the next level, it is probably going to be on defense,” Rosenbach said. “Most of the schools that have talked to him and are looking at him to play for them next year are talking about the defensive side of the ball. “He’s obviously a really talented offensive football player, but you look at about almost every pile, when there is a pile up, Sean is going to be near the bottom of it on every play.
“Sean was the guy that when we needed to put somebody in a position and move something in our defense to stop something, Sean was the guy we moved. … Whatever the situation was that caused us to have to morph our defense, Sean was the morph guy.”
Before this season, Elledge honed his skills at cornerback and excelled. He rose to the challenge when his coach needed to move him to strong safety for 2012.
“He’s been our best corner for the last two years,” Rosenbach said. “We were replacing a safety and a really good one and so we thought, ‘Hey we need to have two guys at safety that we really trust.’ And Sean was a guy that we said we knew we could move around.
“Our corners coach wasn’t real happy — as it turned out we had two really good corners and it worked out great. Moving Sean meant he was going to get less of those one-on-one pass situations. … so it took away from some of his pass stuff, but he ended up leading our team in tackles.”
Elledge said he would like to play college football, but isn’t sure where it will be yet. He has a half-scholarship on the table from Montana, but also has drawn interest from other schools, including Harvard, Weber State, Wyoming and UNLV.
Most of the schools looking at Elledge have told him he would play defense except Montana, which Elledge said is looking at him to play wide receiver.
Football isn’t the only sport where Elledge has found great success. Once football ended, he was back on the mat wrestling and goes into the season as Washington’s top-ranked 3A wrestler at 182 pounds, seeking to defend his 2011 state championship.
“I’m excited wrestling started back up,” he said. “It’s kind of like a rewarding sport, because what you get in is what you put out. I’m excited for this year. I’m working harder this year because it is harder to defend your title.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.