Los Lunas football players get All-State, All-Metro honors

........................................................................................................................................................................................

When about 7,000 fans packed into Willie Chavez Field on Dec. 7, there were plans for a celebration.

Unfortunately for the Los Lunas Tigers, the visiting football team, Goddard, was the only one celebrating after that night’s Class 4A state championship game, winning 17-14. But the colossal event also ended up being kind of a celebration of how far the Tigers have come in a short time.

News-Bulletin file photo: Los Lunas High senior Dakota Wood was one of many Tigers to earn individual 2012-13 honors. The Tigers went 12-1 and reached both the state semifinals and championship game for the first time.

The Tigers ended up going 12-1 in 2012, their only loss being to Goddard. It was easily the most successful season in the program’s 60-year history, eclipsing many milestones, and many individual awards have since been handed out to Tiger players.

The Tigers celebrated their season, in some ways, at the Dec. 17 Marty Saiz State Farm All-Metro banquet. That’s when the Tigers’ Jeremy Newton was named Coach of the Year and senior Greg Wortman was named Player of the Year for Classes 3A and 4A.

Los Lunas players took home many other honors that night, and also were recognized when the Class 4A All-State, Class 4A/5A North-South and All-District 6-4A awards were released.

“This was the most true form of a ‘team’ that I have ever coached,” said Newton. “They’re all great kids. They really worked together.”

Wortman took home the most postseason awards of any Tiger. The most prestigious is probably the State Farm All-Metro Class 3A/4A Player of the Year trophy, but he also made the All-Metro and Class 4A All-State first teams. Many have been multi-year starters.

The 6-foot, 4-inch Wortman led the Tigers in sacks with at least 12. He made about 40 tackles, recovered three fumbles and forced five others, and was the top Tiger in the classroom, earning the team’s Outstanding Senior Student-Athlete distinction.

He has committed verbally to play for the University of New Mexico.

“Greg is such a team guy,” said Newton. “He has been there from the beginning, is a great leader.”

Also on the All-Metro and All-State first teams is junior running back Jalen Chavez. In his second year as a starter, the small, shifty speedster rushed for 1,568 yards and was the team’s third-leading receiver. He accounted for 24 touchdowns, with 21 of those on the ground.

Quarterback Chris Wisneski completed 78 of his 139 pass attempts this year for 1,405 yards, with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 443 yards and five scores in 2012-13, his third season as the starting QB.

Wisneski was named first-team All-Metro and second-team all-state.

“Chris has matured a lot,” said Newton. “And he makes plays when it counts.”

Junior receiver Chris Sanchez was the team’s top receiver in terms of yardage, ending up with about 400 receiving yards and averaging around 26 yards per catch. He also scored nine touchdowns, using his outstanding leaping ability and aggressiveness to take the ball away from opponents.

On defense, Sanchez had a team-high of five of the Tigers’ 16 interceptions. He was named to the All-Metro first team as a utility player and the All-State first team as a defensive back.

Another junior, Jacob Holland, was the team’s top receiver in receptions with 17, and he scored six touchdowns. He earned All-Metro first-team and All-State second-team status as a receiver.

The junior was a solid defensive back and dangerous kick returner as well. He was honored on the All-Metro second team as a special-teams player.

Senior Isaac Parra, as expected, made a huge impact as a linebacker, leading the team with 90 solo tackles. The three-year starter also forced two fumbles, and he was placed on the first team for both All-Metro and All-State.

Preston Schollander was second on the team with 63 tackles and about 10 sacks, making the All-Metro first team and All-State second team.

The senior, along with Parra, both played tight end on offense as well. Schollander, Parra, Wisneski and Wortman were selected to compete in the prestigious Class 4A/5A North-South game, to be played Aug. 31 at Milne Stadium.

Darron Gallegos rushed for 672 yards, paying for many of them by taking big hits. The fullback scored 11 rushing TDs, and two of the eight passes he caught went for touchdowns.

Gallegos, a junior, was picked for the All-Metro and All-State second teams.

Linemen paved the way for the Tigers to dominate on both sides of the ball, and Los Lunas had a number of first-year starters who rose up. One was center Dakota Wood, a junior who earned first-team honors at both the All-State and All-Metro levels.

Junior offensive lineman Chris Romero made first-team All-State and second-team All-Metro. Another offensive lineman, senior Adam Coughlin, made the All-Metro first team and the All-State second team.

Tyler Hanson had about 38 tackles and eight sacks. The junior defensive lineman made the first team on both lists.

Senior defensive back Mikey Martinez made the first team for All-State and All-Metro. He had 47 tackles.

Linebacker Tyler Mariano also made the second team on both lists. The senior had four sacks. Junior Sasha Gallegos made the All-State second team.

Mariano and Sasha Gallegos each had 29 tackles, and both players had one interception.

Eddie Canizo contributed as a versatile linebacker. He only had two interceptions, but both were deep in the opponents’ territory in playoff games.

Canizo, a senior, made the All-Metro second team.

All of the LLHS honorees also were named to one of the All-District 6-4A teams. Newton was named 6-4A Coach of the Year, along with Wisneski getting Offensive Player of the Year and Wortman getting the same honor for defense.

Eliott Kittrell was named to the All-District first team as a guard. Tiger senior placekicker Collin Keeton made the 6-4A second team.


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