Valencia football players honored

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When Kevin Jolley walked onto the Valencia High football practice field for the first time, he knew that expectations would be high.

By his own admission, he wanted those expectations high, coming off of a state semifinal appearance in 2011. But the Jags lost 15 starters to graduation and a head coach in Kelley Lee to Eastern New Mexico University.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Valencia Tight end Andrew Yamamoto scores one of his three touchdowns this season. Yamamoto, who also played defensive end, led the Jaguars in tackles with 74, and was named to the District 6-4A first team on both sides of the ball.

The Jaguars managed a 3-7 record,, including a 3-2 mark and third place in District 6-4A. The most recognition for the 2012 efforts went to five seniors.

Jolley explained that it was a hard year for the seniors as they tried to carry on the banner left to them by the 2011 graduating class.

“Not just the seniors, but everyone expected a lot of success,” said the Jag head coach. “So it is difficult to go through. It is hard to deal with, those seniors that expect to be playing for (state titles).

“We have to look at the positive things that were happening and build on that.”

Andrew Yamamoto led the defense in tackles, posting 74, with 41 of those unassisted.

“He played both ways and was on the field quiet a bit. He was one of the very few returning starters that we had,” said Jolley.

Yamamoto was All-District 6-4A first team as both a defensive end and a tight end. He was the only Valencia player to be named to a State Farm All-Metro position, as an honorable-mention tight end.

He had six catches for 51 yards and three touchdowns.

After missing a good portion of the 2011 season with a knee injury, Santiago Ibuado was impressive in the defensive backfield. He had 60 tackles and led the team with interceptions with four. Ibuado had 10 catches on the offensive side of the ball for 119 yards, leading all Jag receivers.

Ibuado got all-district honors as a first-team cornerback and a second-team wide receiver.

“I kind of expected him to be a first team defensive back,” said Jolley. “He did an outstanding job, especially in those district games. He had some key tackles against Grants. The surprise was second-team wide receiver. He did quite a bit and had a lot of catches, but for a team that ran most of the time, it was good to have him up there.”

Senior Chris Waltman was the only Jag to make the All-State team, as a second-team punter. He made all-district as an honorable mention fullback and first team punter.

There were no Valencia players named to the Class 4A/5A senior all-star South football roster.

Caleb Crum made all-district as the first team kicker, hitting 11-of-12 extra points and three field goals. But he was left off of the All-State and All-metro lists.

“He had so many attempts kicking extra points last year, and obviously not as much this year. That played a lot into it,” said Jolley, noting that Crum had 55 extra points in the previous season.

Carlos Larson made first team all-district as a tackle on both sides of the ball.

One of the big bright spots for Valencia was the play of running back Josh Burbank. The second-team all-district running back ran for 587 yards on 73 carries, leading the Jaguars.

The Jags had two other all-district second-team performers in guard Juan Klein and linebacker Marcos Griego.

Porfie Baca and Nathan Jolley were honorable mentions to the all-district team as offensive linemen.

Junior Anthony Gonzales led the offense, despite not receiving any post-season awards. He completed 30-of-65 passes fro 340 yards with four touchdowns and was second in rushing yards with 518 yards and four scores.

“I expect him back,” said Jolley. “We have two other kids fighting for the quarterback spot in Joe Heneghan and D.J. Heybourne. It is wide-open every year. We are going to try and look at things that will help us improve.

“We have to look at our athletes and be honest about what we have.”

The Jags claimed some all-academic accolades.

Nathan Chavez, Damien Padilla, Crum and Yamamoto were named to the All-Metro all-academic team, with Yamamoto named as the Outstanding Senior Student Athlete.

“We are starting in the weight room — right now,” said Jolley of the team’s desire to be more competitive in 2013-14. “We are not taking any time off. We have about 28 kids coming back. We hope to build on that.”


-- Email the author at mstearns@news-bulletin.com.