With how much talent there was this fall on the Everett Vikings defense, it was almost hard to stand out at times.
While others on his own unit — such as standout defensive backs and fellow Dream Teamers Jaleel Canty and Cha’Quan Love — had the skill and accolades for the Defensive Player of the Year Award, senior linebacker James Mills directed things from his linebacker spot and earned the title.
Mills had 98 tackles, including 14 for losses, two sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two pass breakups.
“It’s an honor. I was surprised I was the defensive player of the year. I’m truly blessed,” Mills said. “I couldn’t do it without my teammates and we faced a lot of good teams.”
To be more accurate — the 5-foot-10 inch, 215-pound Mills helped shut down a lot of good teams along with the rest of the Everett defense. The Vikings held opposing offenses to just 7.4 points per game and earned shutouts in three of their final four regular-season opponents as Everett went into the playoffs with a perfect 9-0 record.
It was a special accomplishment for Mills and other seniors that didn’t record a win during their sophomore season on the varsity in 2010. The Vikings won four games in 2011 as Mills earned all-area honors, but the team still missed out on the playoffs.
The postseason spot was the first for Everett since 2008.
“It was real good because we were coming from an 0-9 season my sophomore year. This is our senior year. We had some good experiences and going to the playoffs was a good experience,” Mills said.
Mills, who also rushed for eight touchdowns , said the team cranked things up in the months leading up to the season, determined to go out on a high note.
“We pushed each other real good. We were always competing at practice and we’ve been practicing hard since February and we were real verbal,” Mills said. “We really talked. We weren’t a quiet defense.”
Mills said he has been receiving college interest from Florida State, Mississippi State, Eastern Michigan, Toledo and Grand Valley State.