Elks’ Hernandez lands district MVP accolades
When Burleson needed goals this season, Freddy Hernandez delivered for the Elks.
The junior forward’s gift for the dramatic was recognized by the coaches in District 9-5A as he shared Most Valuable Player honors with Joshua forward Caylen Wright on the boy’s all-district team.
Hernandez found the back of the net 15 times this season and added eight assists. He was also a fiery leader for the Elks.
“Freddy is a very gifted player who has great instincts around the goal,” Burleson coach Travis Hughes said. “He scores goals in high-leverage situations, not when it’s easy, as evidenced by the fact that eight of his goals were either game-tying or game-winning in district play. He really cares about the program and you know what you’re getting from him each game.”
The Elks had another great season making the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Burleson finished second in the district with a record of 9-2-3.
The Elks won their first playoff game since 2013 beating Red Oak, 2-1, in a bi-district game. Burleson lost to Dallas Samuell 2-1 in a Class 5A Region II area-round playoff game to end the season with a record of 15-5-5.
“On a whole, we had a good season,” Hughes said. “It didn’t finish how we wanted it to but this group still accomplished a lot. We had more wins, more district wins, more points in district, so the program strives to continue to improve. The great news is that the underclassmen have been attacking off-season harder than I’ve ever seen before, they know that there’s still room for improvement and that we have bigger goals to reach.”
The Elks had four first-team players in senior keeper Alex Heinle, senior midfielder Hayden Whitten, junior forward Henry Garcia and junior defender Rolando Medina.
Heinle, a three-year starter, dominated in the net for the Elks. He finished with 12 shutouts including eight in district.
“Alex has done a great job for three years on the varsity and is one of the senior cornerstones of our success,” Hughes said. “We never had to worry about the keeper position. He works really hard and cares about what he’s doing.”
Whitten, a four-year player, bounced back from an injury that sidelined him most of the football season and had a great year on the pitch.
“Hayden is another senior cornerstone of our program and what we’ve been able to accomplish,” Hughes said. “He was a varsity starter from Day One as a freshman. It took him a while to get his legs under him after breaking his foot in football, but once district started he was ready to go and scored six goals (in district play). He was a great leader for four years and we’ll really miss his contributions.”
Medina, like Hernandez, has started with the varsity since his freshman season and is an elite level defender.
“Rolando is just a rock for us,” Hughes said. “He could play anywhere on the field but does what is best for the team. He’s been all-district all three years of his career and, in my opinion, is the best defender in the district. He was a captain this year as a junior and leads by example daily.”
Gracia led the team in goals with 14 in his first season on the varsity.
“Henry is a guy who played throughout the midfield and at forward this year and did a great job,” Hughes said. “He was probably our best player in both of the playoff games. He never wants to come off of the field and works hard every day to get better.”
The Elks defense landed four players on the second-team in seniors Grey Kirby and Christian Barnes and sophomore Edgar Lopez along with junior midfielder Jose Llamas. Burleson had one honorable mention player in junior defender Landon Brown.