RACINE — It was something Derrick Seay understood from the start.
If he expected to play football for Horlick High School, Seay knew his grades would have to be in order. His mother, Michelle, made that clear from the start.
“If you don’t have the grades, you’ll have nothing, because you have nothing to fall back on if you break a bone,” Michelle Seay recalls saying to the second of her three children.
There was something else Seay understood once he walked onto a football field. As a cornerback for Horlick, his job was to neutralize the opposing team’s best receiver on a weekly basis.
Seay, a senior, handled that responsibility so well that he earned first-team Associated Press All-State honors. Racine County players who were also honored are Horlick senior running back Joe Garcia, who was second team, and St. Catherine’s junior quarterback Da’Shaun Brown, who was honorable mention.
The team was selected Thursday morning via teleconference call involving sportswriters representing all regions of the state. The Journal Times was involved in the selection process for the team, which was officially released late Friday night.
Seay was one of the key players behind a Horlick team that went 10-1 and finished the regular season ranked fifth among large schools in the AP state poll. The three-year starter intercepted four passes even though opposing quarterbacks rarely challenged him, he broke up 16 passes and allowed just one touchdown pass.
“He’s got the height and athleticism and we matched him against the other team’s top receiver every week,” Horlick coach Brian Fletcher said. “He was able to shut down kids this year and last year who went on to play at some pretty big colleges.
“He was probably the best corner that we ever had here. He’s the ultimate team player and just a phenomenal kid.”
For Seay, who was also first team on the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-State team and Defensive Back of the Year in the Southeast Conference, Thursday’s news was a surprise.
“It feels great to earn an achievement like that,” Seay said. “I didn’t even know about All-Region and when I got that, I was all stoked. But getting All-State is even better.”
A lasting impact
Horlick has made quite an impact on the AP All-State team the last two years. Guard Jordan Gallagher earned first-team honors as a senior last season. And Garcia is joining Seay this season.
Garcia was one of the premier breakaway threats in the state, averaging 9.95 yards per carry during his three-year varsity career. Despite missing Horlick’s first-round playoff game with a pulled hamstring and often sitting out the second half of the Rebels’ lopsided victories, he rushed for 1,319 yards and 20 touchdowns on 130 carries.
His big-play ability is illustrated in the fact that in three years at Horlick, Garcia scored 25 touchdowns that covered at least 45 yards.
“Getting All-State is outstanding,” Garcia said. “Last year, I made honorable mention (on the WFCA team) and I wasn’t satisfied with that. So, coming into my senior year, I had a chip on my shoulder and I wanted to make first team or second team.
“I worked my butt off in practice and it happened. It worked out for me.”
Brown might have been the most high-profile player in the county this season considering he received full scholarship offers from Wisconsin Sept. 1 and from Iowa Nov. 18.
With Brown setting the tone, the Angels went 10-1 and advanced to the second round of the WIAA Division 4 playoffs. He passed for 1,314 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 1,134 yards and 16 scores.
“Da’Shaun is an exceptional talent,” St. Catherine’s coach Dan Miller said. “Da’Shaun made everyone around him better whether it was running the ball, throwing the ball or his command of our offense.”
Elsewhere in the state
Jacob Heyroth, a senior running back-linebacker from Lodi, was named the AP State Player of the Year. Heyroth rushed for 2,758 yards and 35 touchdowns before rushing for 151 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries in Lodi’s 17-10 victory over Hammond St. Croix Central in the Division 4 state championship. Heyroth doubled as a linebacker for the 14-0 Blue Devils.
Voted Coach of the Year was Steve Jones of Kimberly. He led the Papermakers to their fifth straight state championship with a 27-7 victory over Sun Prairie in the WIAA Division 1 championship game. Kimberly has a 70-game winning streak, longest in the nation.