Sanger dominates all-CMAC football teams

Apaches take four of five top player awards, Reedley and Immanuel gridders along with Dinuba’s Martinez earn special recognition in TCC-Sequoia and WYL, respectively

Bryson Baker (8), led by the block of all-CMAC selection Marshall Pittman (16) while scoring a touchdown against Bullard, was voted Most Valuable Player for the County Metro Athletic Conference after rushing for 856 yards and scoring a combined .10 touchdowns rushing and receiving (Jon Earnest)
Bryson Baker (8), led by the block of all-CMAC selection Marshall Pittman (16) while scoring a touchdown against Bullard, was voted Most Valuable Player for the County Metro Athletic Conference after rushing for 856 yards and scoring a combined .10 touchdowns rushing and receiving (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published December 15, 2023  • 
4:00 pm

SANGER – County Metro Athletic Conference champion Sanger High dominated most of the top awards on the season-ending all-CMAC football team for 2023.

The Apaches (10-2) captured awards for Most Valuable Player (Bryson Baker), Offensive Player of the Year (Israel Robles), Defensive Player of the Year (Marquis Cropper) and Lineman of the Year (Jonathan Ybarra and Naste Velasquez). In addition, Matt Logue shared Coach of the Year honors with Madera’s Kenny Paolinelli.

Seven other Sanger players earned first team all-CMAC honors, including five on defense. They were defensive back Carlos Young III, linebackers Marshall Pittman and Conner Bohlken along with defensive linemen Adolfo Hurtado and Cody Coles. Offensive first-team selections were linemen Adrian Sosa and Jordan Guzman.

Conference MVP Baker was a dual offensive threat for the Apaches during the season, as the junior rushed for 856 yards (averaging more than 10 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns while adding 10 receptions for 198 yards and two TDs. Sanger missed Baker’s offensive prowess in a playoff loss to Clovis East, when he missed the game because of an ankle injury.

Senior running back Robles was a huge contributor in his lone varsity season with the Apaches. The 5-foot-11, 195 pounder used a bruising and slashing big play running style to collect 1,758 yards (8.5 average), fourth on the school’s all-time single season list according to school stats historian Ron Blackwood. Robles’ 24 touchdowns tied for fourth all-time in a season at SHS.

Defensive Player of the Year Cropper tied the schools’ single season interception record with nine (including one returned for a touchdown). The senior added a team-high 16 catches for 227 yards and two TDs along with 33 tackles and six pass deflections.

Massive tackles Ybarra (6-foot-3, 285) and Velasquez (6-5, 300) anchored an offensive wall that paved the way to 3,738 yards and 47 touchdowns on the ground. All five earned first-team honors, including defensive pick Coles who played tight end.

Defensive first team selection stat standouts were Young (seven interceptions, five pass deflections and 37 tackles), Pittman (75 tackles, 5.5 sacks, an interception and fumble return), Bohlken (team highs of 105 tackles and 16 tackles for loss), Hurtado (team-leading six sacks along with an interception and fumble recovery) and Coles (team high 11 pass hurries and 5.5 sacks).

The other top CMAC award winner was Justin Garza High’s London Alexander, named Specialist of the Year. Madera had five first team selections while Garza and Edison had four each.

TRI-COUNTY CONFERENCE (SEQUOIA)

Reedley High’s Will Bacon captured Offensive Player of the Year honors while the Pirates’ Sal Mendoza and Immanuel High’s Jacob Percival shared the Lineman of the Year award for the conference. The Pirates (4-8) placed seven players on the first team while the Eagles (5-6) had four first team selections.

Sophomore QB Bacon blossomed in the latter stages of the season, helping rally Reedley from an 0-6 season start to three regular season and one playoff win. Bacon passed for 955 yards and 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions, and rushed for 892 yards (including three 100-yard games) and 12 TDs. He also had a 37-yard touchdown on his only catch of the season.

Pirates senior running back Demetrius Vargas powered the ground game with 1,526 yards (5.8 ypc) and nine TDs, surpassing 100 yards in eight of 12 games to earn all-TCC Sequoia first team honors. Other RHS offensive players on the first team were linemen Allan Flores and Julius Echeveste. Defensive first team picks were linebacker Isaiah Torres, DB Jayden Guajardo, DL Kevin Perez and punter Adrian Morales.

Immanuel’s Percival along with Reedley’s Mendoza shored up their respective teams’ offensive front while Percival also starred on defense with 58 tackles (three for loss) along with two sacks and 11 pass hurries.

The Eagles’ other first team selections were senior tight end Nic Coleman, freshman defensive back Mason Hernandez, sophomore DB Jackson Leibee and sophomore all-purpose standout Tyler Romo. Linebacker Romo led the defense with 152 tackles and eight tackles for loss, including four sacks. Leibee had a pair of interceptions.

Exeter’s Jacob Molina and Joseph Ruiz took home the Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards. Ryan Santos of Sierra Pacific High was voted Coach of the Year.

WEST YOSEMITE LEAGUE

Dinuba High senior Julian Ramirez was voted Defensive Player of the Year for the WYL by league coaches. The 6-foot-220 pound rush end-fullback collected 23 tackles for loss of his 44 total tackles — including 11 quarterback sacks and 12 QB hurries. Ramirez also rushed for 356 yards and 11 touchdowns as a fullback for the Emperors (5-6).

Dinuba also had three first team selections in senior running back Diego Tuttle (1,208 yards, nine TDs), senior offensive lineman Caleb Hernandez and senior linebacker Paul Huerta (team-high 61 tackles, 18 for loss, one interception and two forced fumbles).

League champion Hanford High had Player of the Year (Kourdey Glass), Offensive Player of the Year (Daniel Gomez) and Coaching Staff of the Year. Lemoore’s Trevon Gaffney was voted Lineman of the Year.

Jon Earnest
Reporter