Elks land five superlative honors
Possibly the best season in the history of Burleson’s boys soccer program resulted in the landing of five superlative honors on the District 5-5A All-District team.
For the second consecutive year, senior forward/midfielder Freddy Hernandez was named the district’s Most Valuable Player. It was a fitting award for Hernandez, who has started for the varsity since he was a freshman, and has been a driving force in the Elks turnaround.
“He’s the catalyst for what we have been doing for four years,” Burleson coach Travis Hughes said. “He has gotten better each year. He was the district MVP last year and he had a better season this year so he deserves it.”
Sophomore forward Caleb Yauger was named the 5-5A Offensive Player of the Year. Yauger cut his teeth as a freshman on the varsity last season and gained valuable experience.
“We thought last season that even though he’d play 20 to 40 minutes a game, the best thing for him was to be on the varsity roster,” Hughes said. “He learned how we do things. I don’t think it was surprising to do what he did this season because we knew what he was capable of. We expected him to have a really good year.”
Freshman forward/midfielder Luke Peterson shared the district Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors with Mansfield Legacy’s Seldin Korkutovi. Peterson burst on the scene and never looked back.
“We really didn’t know what we were getting with him,” Hughes said. “You could tell as soon as the first tournament of the year that he fit right in and didn’t look out of place. He’s a really good athlete and with his speed was varsity ready as a freshman.”
Hughes said other opposing coaches would ask him where Peterson had come from and they were surprised when he told them he was a freshman.
Hughes said he was pleased that senior defender Rolando Medina was honored as the Utility Player of Year. Medina switched from sweeper to midfield this season and made the offense go.
“We needed him to be around the ball this year,” Hughes said. “Stats don’t tell the story of what he has done for the program this year and the past four years. We have tried get him a superlative honor the last two years. This is kind of a career achievement for him to get that. The other coaches know how good he is.”
Hughes was honored as the 5-5A Coach of the Year which he said is an award for the whole team.
“We try to do a good job but there were several coaches in our district that were deserving of the honor,” Hughes said. “If your kids can’t play you aren’t going to get the honor. If it weren’t for the kids we wouldn’t get the award, so I’m appreciative of the effort they made.”
The Elks lost 3-1 to eventual Class 5A state champion El Paso Hanks in the regional semifinals in Wichita Falls. The boys finished the season with a record of 21-2-5 and won the district title with a record of 11-1-2.
“As far as we can tell, we believe this is the most wins in school history,” Hughes said. “To be honest I think there were eight or nine teams that could have won a state title and we were one of them.”
Hughes said the players did a great job all year of staying focused.
“We could have easily lost a few games because we got complacent but that was never the case,” Hughes said. “They were ready to work in November and continued to work until the last second of the last game. I just can’t say enough about them.”
The Elks landed five players on the first-team in senior defender Landon Brown, senior midfielder/forward Henry Garcia, senior midfielder Jose Llamas, junior keeper Gabriel Bustillos and junior defender Edgar Zaragoza.
Brown, a three-year starter, had a great year according to Hughes.
“He really came into his own this season,” Hughes said. “He’s stepped up as a leader and was someone we could count on.”
Bustillos took over at keeper and the Elks’ defense didn’t miss a beat.
“We have been lucky to have a run of great keepers over the past three years,” Hughes said. “Gabriel does a great job of putting in the work. We weren’t a team that allowed a lot of shots but when we did we could rely on Gabriel. He is really good about staying focused the entire game and knowing what is going on.”
Garcia, who was a first-team selection last season, proved to be a clutch player for the Elks.
“He scored big goals for us,” Hughes said “He didn’t rack up cheap stats, he scored multiple goals in playoff games and scored a goal against Crowley to win a district title. He is one of four guys up front that caused trouble for opponents.”
Llamas, a four-year starter, was the hardest working player on the team, according to Hughes.
“The best thing I can say about Jose is that if every person on the team worked as hard as he does every single day then I wouldn’t have to coach,” Hughes said. “We’d just roll the ball out there and let them go. He puts in the work. He’s grown as a player more than anyone on the team in the past four years.”
Zaragoza, a first-team defender last season, moved to sweeper this season and filled the role well.
“We put him in a position this year where we were going to have to trust him more this season, Hughes said. “He stepped up and we never had to worry about him.”
Burleson had two second-team players in senior midfielder/defender Caleb Austin and freshman midfielder/defender Abreham Word.
The Elks honorable mention players were senior midfielder Deangelo Garza and sophomore midfielder/defender Anthony Mohammed.