Malibu High athletes garner all-league recognition

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Emmet Pierson, left, and Brennan Cassone 

Christmas came early this year for two outstanding Malibu High athletes who competed with distinction this fall. Seniors Brennan Cassone and Emmet Pierson were recently honored at their teams’ banquets as the Most Valuable Players in football and water polo in their respective leagues. 

Cassone had a phenomenal season as a wide receiver for the gridiron Sharks, who finished 7-4 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2007. For his efforts, Cassone earned first-team recognition and MVP honors in the Frontier League as well as All-CIF. 

“It meant a lot to me. I was super happy. It was a great feeling,” said Cassone, who hopes to play college football at a Division I-AA school such as Dartmouth, Georgetown or Penn. 

A week later Cassone was chosen as the All-Ventura County Small Schools Receiver of the Year. Cassone had 100 receptions on the season for 1,707 yards and 16 touchdowns. 

“It’s an honor to be recognized,” Cassone said. “It makes me very proud of myself and proud of my team for what we accomplished this year.” 

Malibu claimed second place in the Frontier League and a spot in the CIF East Valley Division playoffs after defeating Santa Clara, 50-41, in the final regular season contest. The Sharks lost in the first round of the CIF playoffs to Linfield Christian. 

Cassone snared 12 catches for 217 yards in the victory against Santa Clara to capture that elusive postseason berth. “It was only the fourth time that we made the playoffs in school history. That was awesome to be one of the teams to have done that,” Cassone explained. “To get this program going on the right track means a lot. It was a really fun season.” 

Highlights of the season for Malibu included a five-game winning streak at one point. After beginning the year 1-2, MHS knocked off Flintridge Prep, 40-34, in overtime with Cassone grabbing 10 receptions for a season-high 253 yards. “I won’t forget when we beat Flintridge in overtime,” Cassone said. “It started us on our long win streak and propelled us into the rest of our season and into a mode to go and make playoffs.” 

“Brennan has been a huge part of this football program for the last three years,” Malibu Coach Ray Humphrey said. “He has brought not only his football skills and great knowledge of the game of football but also his spirit and leadership. It has been an honor to coach a young man that has such passion for the game and his team.” 

Other MHS first-team selections were Dylan Miller, Chase Gardella, Eddie Johnstone, Matthew Vincent, George Savas, Apollo Loomis and Alden Quartz. Second-team honorees included Taurino Ruiz, Billy Humphreys, Nick Carlson, Anthony Kodomichalos, Cooper Barton and Nick Anthony. 

Gardella, Johnstone and Quartz joined Cassone on the All-Ventura County team. 

Over in the pool, Emmet Pierson led the Malibu boys water polo team to its third consecutive league title and a berth in the CIF Division VI semifinals, where the Sharks ultimately lost to La Quinta. He was honored as the Tri-Valley League’s co-Most Valuable Player. “I was completely stoked. I found out at our awards banquet and it was an awesome feeling,” Pierson said. “I tried so hard the whole year. It was a nice recognition.” 

Malibu finished the season with a 25-5 record and the 15th league title in the program’s illustrious history. Pierson also received first-team All- CIF honors as well. 

“We did great this year. We beat a couple ranked D-1 schools, which was huge considering how small a school we are,” said Pierson, who scored 82 goals on the season and added a team-high 51 steals. “Those were great moments. Beating Oaks Christian was huge. It was an amazing feeling to beat them at their home.” 

Pierson, who hopes to play college water polo at either Washington & Jefferson (Pa.) or for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., will never forget winning the league championship a remarkable three times in a row. 

“It’s kind of like every athlete’s dream. Doing your best for three years and accomplishing your goals,” Pierson said. 

Joining Pierson on the first team were teammates Jordan Clarke and Dane Sartorius. Morgan Hathorn and Henry Buckley made second-team while Jens Cole and Owen Franz received honorable mention. 

“Emmet is an excellent team leader and role model. He is another coach in the water and has great water polo IQ,” Malibu Coach Michael Mulligan said. “He knows the game very well and anticipates better than most on what is going to happen next. He was the glue that kept this team together.” 

The Malibu girls volleyball team was represented by GiGi Hadid, a second-team All-Tri Valley League selection. Lara Kiefer, Logan Beitler and Allison Hahn were named honorable mention.