Almost from the start of the season, there was a quarterback debate in Southern California. But 16 weeks and 15 games after it started, the last impression — and the lasting impression — was that of a polished 17-year-old passing for four touchdowns and running for two more in a State Championship Bowl Game.
Aaron Corp, who burned teams with his running as well as his passing, led Orange Lutheran to the Southern Section Pac-5 Division championship in the school's first year in the highest level of playoff competition.
His team finished 14-1 against the state's second-toughest schedule, and Air Corp was the means by which it traveled. A double-overtime loss to Anaheim Servite was the only blemish.
For his superlative play week after week against some of the toughest competition, Corp is The Times' Glenn Davis Award winner as the outstanding player in the Southland in 2006.
Corp was a dual threat in his team's option offense.
He rushed 142 times for 1,180 yards and 12 touchdowns. He completed 212 of 311 passes, 68.2%, for 2,745 yards, with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
It equates to per-game averages of 84.3 yards rushing and 196.1 passing, a 280.4 total that is two yards less than he averaged in five playoff games in which he rushed for eight scores and passed for eight more.
"The thing you have to remember," said his coach, Jim Kunau, "is Aaron's getting hit the same as a running back."
But Corp never missed a play. Chalk one up to the resiliency of the 6-foot-4, 185-pound speedster, who is headed to USC.
If Corp's performance against Palo Alto in the Division II championship wasn't his finest hour, it was close, and it came under the spotlight of a regional TV audience looking in on a tripleheader that included Notre Dame-bound quarterback Jimmy Clausen in the Division III title game, and Concord De La Salle in the Division I final.
Yet it was Corp who, among individuals, stole the show.
Lacking his starting tailback and two offensive linemen, as well as a starting middle linebacker and all-star defensive end, Corp fulfilled the urgency of the moment, guiding his team to a 21-0 lead in a 42-28 victory.
He said afterward that his motivation was that the offense needed to carry the defense. That's exactly what happened.
His performance wasn't that much different from what he showed all season long.
He carried the ball, he carried the team, and in the end, he carried the championship trophy.
Glenn Davis Award winners
Winners of The Times' high school football player of the year award, named after 1946 Heisman Trophy winner Glenn Davis from Army who died in 2005. He starred at La Verne Bonita, leading the Bearcats to a 39-6 win over Newport Harbor in the 1942 Southern Section final by scoring five touchdowns: Yr. Player, School Pos. '05 Toby Gerhart, Norco RB '04 DeSean Jackson, Long Beach Poly WR/DB '03 Brigham Harwell, Los Altos DL/FB '02 Whitney Lewis, St. Bonaventure WR '01 Hershel Dennis, Long Beach Poly RB '00 Tyler Ebell, Ventura RB '99 Matt Grootegoed, Mater Dei RB/LB '98 Chris Lewis, Long Beach Poly QB '97 DeShaun Foster, Tustin RB/DB '96 Antoine Harris, Loyola TE/DE '95 Chris Claiborne, Riverside North LB/RB '94 Daylon McCutcheon, Bishop Amat RB/DB '93 Glenn Thompkins, Eisenhower QB '92 Travis Kirschke, Esperanza DL '91 Billy Blanton, Mater Dei QB '90 John Walsh, Carson QB '89 Kevin Copeland, Dorsey WR '88 Derek Brown, Servite RB '87 Russell White, Crespi RBCopyright © 2015, CT Now