All-Empire small schools football defensive player of the year: Isazah King

2014-15 All-Empire small schools football defensive player of the year Isazah King of Lower Lake. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

2014-15 All-Empire small schools football defensive player of the year Isazah King of Lower Lake. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

By TED SILLANPAA
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Lower Lake High’s Isazah King is the small-school All-Empire football Defensive Player of the Year.

Why not? A 6-foot, 185-pound senior, King intercepted six passes, recovered a fumble and was in on 67 tackles from his spot in the defensive backfield.

King could’ve been the Offensive Player of the Year, too.

Why not? He passed for 930 yards and seven touchdowns, completing 54 of 96 passes for the Trojans. He led them in rushing with 1,697 yards on 169 carries, including 17 touchdowns. King wound up scoring 133 points.

King might’ve been the Empire Player of the Year, regardless of school size, if Lower Lake had finished better than 5-6 overall, 3-4 in the North Central League I. Winning teams get the postseason perks, so imagine how amazing King was to earn an individual award for a team that finished below .500.

“I was actually really happy with the way the season turned out,” King said. “We installed a new offense and we all worked really hard all summer. The whole team wanted to turn things around with the players we had.”

King and his teammates did improve greatly. Last year, Lower Lake ended up 3-7, 1-6 in the NCL I. The senior, however, was just as amazing this season as he was last when he passed for 690 yards, rushed for 891 in nine games and earned

All-Empire first-team small-school defense honors.

He knew the burden of drastic improvement would fall on him.

“I felt the pressure, sure,” King said. “I put in a lot of work in the offseason, both on offense and on defense. So, when I felt pressure, I just remembered that I tried as hard as I could and always did my best.”

King is bound for perennial NAIA Division I powerhouse Carroll College in Montana, which lost to Southern Oregon University in last year’s championship game in Florida. He’ll leave Lower Lake knowing he will have a lot to prove in college, no matter his success in high school.

“I still have a lot to learn,” he said. “I’ll play wherever they want me to play. If I get bigger, I could play linebacker or I could be a wide receiver. They might want me to play safety. And, I could even play quarterback. It just depends on how much I improve and what the team needs.”

King is the rare high school football star with a keen sense of his strengths and weaknesses on and off the field.

“Being a team leader wasn’t really easy. I really thought it was hard for me,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of guidance in my life, but I feel like I’m starting to become a man. I’m still not a man. As a leader, I just hoped guys would watch what I did and how I worked and try to take the same steps I did.

“I couldn’t force people to do things and I’m not a guy to tell them what to do.”

King said head coach Justin Gaddy played a major role in his getting recruited by Carroll College and in becoming a better person. Things just keep getting better for the senior star, who has moved on to play basketball.

“I feel like I’m in a really good place right now,” King said. “I got a full athletic scholarship and I’m growing as a person.”