Benicia High pair highlight Times-Herald All-Area football team – Times-Herald

Simeon Harris and Janari Boone of Benicia High School had never played in a sectional championship before this fall.

In fact, they weren’t even born when the Panthers last played there.

With both in mind, the Benicia High School football team returned to the section title match for the first time since 1992.

With that backdrop, Harris is the offensive player of the year and Boone is the defensive player of the year on the Times-Herald’s All-Area team.

Harris, a transfer from Jesse Bethel, made 43 catches for 623 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on the offensive end of the ball. Harris signed a letter of intent to play the defensive back at the University of Colorado, but he played both sides of the ball for the Panthers.

The elder was convinced he could have that kind of impact.

“I felt like I was one of the best playmakers on the team and to win you have to put the ball back in the hands of the playmakers,” he said. “I expected the ball a lot and I expected to make some big plays.”

The only thing that slowed Harris down was suffering a split shoulder against the Alhambra. He missed the next three full games before returning to the Section’s title game against Windsor.

When asked what Harris’ best game was, head coach Craig Holden admitted Campolindo and Acalanes were two big games for him, but noted that his senior was consistent all season long.

With his speed, Harris could be an explosive threat downstream, but he even excelled in intermediate or short distance situations.

“We didn’t know much about him other than that he was a great defensive back,” Holden said of Harris who transferred in his junior season. “We didn’t really know what kind of wide receiver he was going to be. He did a lot of clutch engagement for us, fourth and third downs. He just has great hands.

Boone was less of a surprise than Harris. Boone dominated as linebacker in the 2020-21 Panthers’ 3-2 spring season en route to the Times-Herald Male Athlete of the Year award.

This fall, he was named Defensive Player of the Year in the Foothill Division of the Diablo Athletic League.

Much like Harris, Holden has said he believes Boone is consistent from game to game.

“I think his understanding of the game has improved,” Holden said. “He was better prepared for what was going to happen before each game. Thanks to the work and preparation of the film, he was even better.

Like Harris, Boone was seen as a two-way street. When he wasn’t running for yards down the center on offense, he stopped running backs or drifted into pass coverage to the linebacker. He finished with 72 tackles on a team that was the league’s co-champion.

“It was good to be back like everything is normal again,” said Boone. “I felt like I had an incredible season and it started off with a bang. Even though we couldn’t qualify for the national championship, I feel like we did a lot of good things.

Boone was proud to be part of the team that brought Benicia back to the sectional championship.

“We have made history,” he said. “The last time we went was in the 1990s so it went really well.”

Holden said Boone is expected to sign a letter of intent to play at a four-year-old school in February.

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