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DIVISION III HONORS: The Meadows’ Woodson shakes off surgeries, takes home football awards

Mark Woodson knows a thing or two about overcoming adversity.

The Meadows’ star football player has already undergone six surgeries, including four on his feet alone.

But that didn’t stop Woodson from hauling in some of the top honors from the Division III Southern League coaches. Woodson was named Defensive Player of the Year and Offensive Lineman of the Year.

“Wow, that makes me really happy,” Woodson said, unaware of the accolades. “I guess all my work has been put to good use.”

Last year, Woodson suffered a torn deltoid ligament in his right ankle in the first game of the season, and was forced to sit out the remainder of the year. It was the third time he’d had surgery on his right foot.

“At first it was devastating,” the the junior lineman said. “But I used that time to just get better.”

Woodson followed a vigorous training program to get back into playing shape, so he could return to the field as quickly as possible.

“I worked my upper body, since that was a little weak,” Woodson said. “I also did some physical therapy, which helped me for this season. And just watching the team, I saw what needed to be done.”

The Meadows coach Frank DeSantis was thrilled that Woodson was able to garner the postseason awards.

“That’s great after last year because of his injury,” DeSantis said. “And freshman year, he didn’t even play offense. He’s really cut down, lost weight and got into great shape. Great kid, smart kid.”

This year, Woodson terrorized opponents on both sides of the ball. His play as the strong-side defensive end and right guard on offensive line helped lead The Meadows all the way to the Division III state semifinals.

With Woodson opening up holes on offense, it allowed his best friend Bryson Navallo to rush for 1,451 yards and 18 touchdowns, which placed him second amongst all Southern Nevada running backs in both categories.

“If you watched our team last year, he went out in the first game and that was a big loss to our team,” said Navallo, who was the league’s Offensive Player of the Year. “I’m so happy for him. We’re great friends on and off the field. That’s awesome. He really deserves it.

“On the football field he might be all big and mean, but off the field, he’s the nicest guy I’ve ever known. He’ll go out and help you with anything.”

Mountain View’s Matthew Larson, who has helped the Saints make it to Saturday’s state championship game, was named the League’s Player of the Year.

Mountain View’s Cameron Kirk and Needles’ J.D. Lucas were co-Defensive Linemen of the Year, and Mountain View’s Mike Valenzuela was named Coach of the Year.

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