Smiles, laughs and even a few tears marked the end of a memorable season Wednesday night when the HRV football team held its annual awards banquet at the high school.
A proud but emotional coach Mitch Sanders bid farewell to his 13 dedicated seniors — most of whom have been with the program for four years — and thanked them for helping the team reach never-before-seen heights in 2002.
“I hate saying goodbye to these kids,” he said. “I’m not just losing players; I’m losing sons tonight.”
Sanders was understandably choked up, having to say goodbye to program mainstays such as Jarrod Fogle, Nate Dethman, Tommy Owyen, Danny Phelps, Matt Cody Jared Gidley, Ryan Flory, Chris Searles and Jacobe Krizman, the new 4A state rushing record holder.
He also thanked seniors Noel Thomas, Dago Rivera, Sam Murillo and Alonzo Trejo for their undying contributions to the program, which had its best year at the 4A level (9-2 record, first playoff win).
“The most important thing this year was chemistry,” Sanders said. “Our guys worked so hard together because they care about each other. And I don’t think all the records they broke will ever be touched.”
The varsity award winners for 2002 were MVP/Offensive Player of the Year, Krizman; Defensive P.O.Y., Jorge Lujano; Most improved, Searles; Most inspirational, Gidley; Lineman of the Year, Owyen; Stick of the Year, Flory; Special Teams award, Nolan Johnson; and two Coach’s Awards for Fogle and Dethman.
“On this team, we do things with all 11 players, and everyone on the roster has an equally important role,” Sanders said. “These individual awards don’t make anyone more or less important than the rest.”
The same can be said about HRV’s two other teams, the junior varsity and freshman squads.
The freshmen fielded just 15 players for most of the year, and still emerged 3-5. Head coach Troy Tactay honored running backs Nick Chacon and Obed Bello as co-Offensive Players of the Year; Spencer Munos, Defensive P.O.Y.; Mathew McDougall, Lineman of the Year; Court von Barker, Most Inspirational; Chris Haskins, Most Improved; and quarterback Tony Guisto, MVP.
For the JV’s, who finished 4-5, coaches Phil Vesel and Mario Guisto honored sophomore running back Adam Brown as both the MVP and Offensive Player of the Year; Alex Lozano and Casey Vannet as co-Defensive Players of the Year; Eric Akin as Most Improved; quarterback Dennis Methvin as Most Inspirational; and Eric Hoffman as Lineman of the Year.
Methvin and Brown, among others, will be key members of a young varsity squad in 2003.