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Mission Viejo's Redfield is defensive player of the year
Conner Manning's strategy against Max Redfield was to first identify the position of the Mission Viejo safety.
Then, El Toro's record-setting quarterback aimed in the opposite direction.
"Wherever he was (on the field), you just kind (of thought), 'All right, you've got to work the other way,'" Manning said of Redfield. "He's a freak athlete."
Redfield also drew the attention of Tesoro running back Nate Tago.
"He does some stuff that normal high school kids can't," Tago said. "He comes in hot. He's flying."
As much as teams tried to avoid Redfield or brace for the pending collision, the senior still produced an outstanding 2012 season.
Despite also playing receiver full-time, Redfield led Mission Viejo in defensive points, starred on special teams and helped the Diablos climb to No. 1 in the Orange County rankings.
For his efforts, Redfield is the Orange County Register's defensive player of the year for 2012.
All-County football: First team
All-County football: Second team
All-County football: Third team
All-County football: Mater Dei's Duarte is offensive player of the year
All-County football: Mater Dei's Rollinson is football coach of the year
All-County football: Photos from the All-County football awards show
"He was so valuable for us, it was unbelievable," Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson said. "He's a big-play guy."
Redfield (6-foot-2½, 190 pounds) faced stiff competition for the county award from teammate Garrett Marino and Edison's Derek Baljeu, but he produced an all-around resume that few players can match.
He racked up 65 total tackles, forced two fumbles, recovered four fumbles, collected four interceptions and blocked four punts.
Redfield also won four "big hit" awards, a team honor.
The fumble recoveries and blocked punts illustrate one of Redfield's strongest assets: hustle.
"I can't get over how hard he plays," Johnson said. "He's plays his heart out."
Redfield said his intensity comes from his competitiveness.
"I think it's just the desire to win ... and the desire to win for my teammates," he said. "I've lost three CIF championship (finals) through basketball and football. It's been really tough."
Redfield led Mission Viejo to arguably the most impressive defensive effort of the season. The Diablos intercepted Manning, the Register's 2011 offensive player of the year, six times in a 49-7 victory.
The triumph sealed a perfect regular season for Mission Viejo and helped Redfield earn the South Coast League MVP award.
"He did it all, really," Manning said of Redfield's role in the Week 10 showdown. "He sat back, he came up sometimes and played man in goal line."
Redfield also made an impact for Mission Viejo's high-powered offense. He finished with 45 receptions for 757 yards and six touchdowns.
"He's very dynamic on both sides of the ball," Johnson said.
Redfield said a 21–16 loss to eventual CIF-SS Pac-5 Division champion Long Beach Poly in the quarterfinals stung. But he still believed he improved on his All-County season of 2011.
"The game slowed down a lot (for me on defense) since I've been playing (varsity) since my sophomore year," Redfield said. "I felt my footwork got a lot better, and I kept my speed and added a little more muscle.
"All around, I became a better player, and I enjoyed it."
Redfield believes free safety will be his best position in college, but he would "love" the chance play offense, too.
He has narrowed his college picks to USC and Notre Dame.
Redfield will announce his decision Jan. 5 at the Under Armour All-American all-star game in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"I love playing defense ... the hitting part and making big plays," he said. "I feel I can impact the game a little more (on defense)."
Redfield has the athleticism to play offense and defense, as his second sport at Mission Viejo suggests. In his first eight games in basketball this winter, he averaged 12.2 points and shot 61 percent from the floor.
"His size, leaping ability and body control are unmatched by anyone in the state, and you can make an argument that he's the most athletic safety in the country," said Greg Biggins, a national recruiting analyst for Fox Sports/Scout.com.
Redfield's family's sport is soccer. His aunt is former U.S. soccer defender Joy Fawcett, an Olympic and World Cup champion who attended Edison. Redfield's mother, Kathy, played college soccer and is a former athlete of the year at Edison
"I played (soccer) for 10 years," Redfield said. "That's what (my family does) every single Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas. We play soccer every single time, and we love it."
Redfield wishes he could play soccer more. Some of his football rivals might like to see him switch sports but that's not likely.
"He just loves to play football," Johnson said. "He never wants to come off the field."
Fortunately for Mission Viejo, he rarely did.