Prep2Prep 2018 NCS Football Honors
Liberty's Jay Butterfield is the Prep2Prep NCS Junior of the Year.

NCS Junior of the Year

A lesser player, a lesser leader could have easily folded under the pressure of struggling in the state-wide spotlight. Liberty junior signal-caller Jay Butterfield had already bounced back from a tough outing against De La Salle in the NCS Open Division title game, but what quarterback in Northern California hasn’t had one of those? But this was different, as his Lions’ team was hanging around against Sierra Canyon in the CIF 1-A championship at Cerritos College, needing him to elevate the play of the offense with a chance to win in the fourth quarter.

“That wasn’t just any high school quarterback who was having a bad day and was going to plummet,” said Liberty coach Ryan Partridge. “It was Jay Butterfield, and he wants to win more than anyone and will do anything to make it happen.”

With his team trailing by four, Butterfield shook off whatever had plagued him earlier in the night and started delivering the type of throws he had displayed all season. He made back-to-back first down throws, then delivered two straight pinpoint passes. One was dropped down the left sideline, but the other beat man-to-man coverage down the seam of the Sierra Canyon defense, gaining 48 yards to the Trailblazers’ 11-yard line, where senior tailback Tyerell Sturges-Cofer scored on the next play. On the Lions’ next drive, needing to run out the clock and secure a victory, Butterfield converted on third-and-six with a laser strike to Adrik Lamar – who had also caught the seam pass – for the first down. It was the kind of finish befitting his entire junior campaign.

For the season, Butterfield completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,294 yards and 43 touchdowns. More importantly, he led his Liberty team to an unbeaten mark in the regular season, including a BVAL title-clinching win over Pittsburg on the road, a game in which Butterfield completed 19-of-31 passes for 325 yards and three scores during a 24-21 victory. It was just one example of the junior playing at his best when his team needed it the most.

During the Open Division semifinals against Clayton Valley, needing a win to secure a spot in the CIF bowl game series, Butterfield called a number of his own plays, including two which resulted in long touchdown passes during a 42-14 win, in which he completed 20-of-26 passes for 270 yards and three scores.

“His awareness is unlike any quarterback I have ever been around. He is certainly another coach on the field,” Partridge said. “Half the time, he’s finishing my sentences when I’m calling a play. His natural ability to see space and react to what the defense is giving, you can just tell he has played sports his whole life. He naturally sees space and also has the ability to attack it.”

After the loss to De La Salle, Butterfield responded with a 328-yard, three-touchdown performance against Valley Christian, which boasted one of the top secondary units in Northern California. It was the type of post-season performance he had started to display even as a sophomore, when he threw for seven scores in three playoff games and led his team to a section title. Now, as one of the top junior quarterback recruits in the country, the 6-foot-6 multi-sport athlete led his team to a 13-1 mark, its first outright league title in over a half-century and the first state title in school history.

For his efforts throughout the season, we are pleased to recognize Jay Butterfield as the Prep2Prep North Coast Section Junior of the Year.

Other players considered for this award include De La Salle’s Shamar Garrett, Moreau Catholic’s Fresh Ison, Las Lomas’ Isaiah Newell, Marin Catholic’s Jamar Sekona and Cardinal Newman’s Jackson Pavitt.