Atwater's Villegas earns CCC top offensive award

Senior midfielder was big key to Falcons' success

slynch@mercedsun-star.comNovember 5, 2012 

Manuel Villegas said the last regular-season game of his career is one he'll likely never forget.

With Atwater's playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the senior midfielder led an offensive charge in the second half.

Crosstown rival Buhach Colony took a 1-0 lead into intermission, but Villegas converted a penalty kick to level things with about 20 minutes to go.

Tito Garabay completed the comeback, but as was the case for most of the season, Villegas found himself as its architect.

Whether head coach Jimmy Brewer opted to use Villegas in the middle or in his more comfortable spot on the wing, the senior made the Falcon offense go with his pace and ball distribution.

The rest of the Central California Conference took note. Villegas was rewarded the league's Offensive Outstanding Player award.

"This year was a challenge because we weren't as strong on the ball as we were last year," Villegas said. "Any given game, I just went where coach needed me to be and tried to do what I know I can do.

"It's a huge honor because of all the offensive talent in the league and knowing the other guys that I was up against for the award."

Despite finishing second to Turlock, the Falcons won half the league's major awards with Efrain Ulloa being named Goalkeeper of the Year for the second straight season.

Turlock's Efrain Ochoa was the Defensive Player of the Year and head coach Doug Sperry was the Coach of the Year.

Other local players named to the first team included Jonathan Trillo (Atwater), Adalberto Guzman (Atwater), Jovan Prado (Merced), William Gomez (Merced), Santiago Chavez (Golden Valley) and Brandon Valenti (Buhach Colony).

Atwater's Garabay and Alex Rios were named to the second team. They're joined by Jose Alvarado (Merced), Carlos Manzo (Merced), Adan Becerra (Golden Valley), Esten Schroeder (Golden Valley) and Miguel Hernandez (Buhach Colony).

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Merced continued its reign atop the CCC standings and Brett Fogelberg extended his run as league MVP, winning for the second straight year.

Fogelberg was joined on the first team by fellow Bears Isaac Santana and Matt Cagle. Atwater earned a pair of representatives in Josh Heller and Hans Van Warmerdam. Connor Hoppe (Golden Valley) and Andrew Blackwood (Buhach Colony) round out the list with the Thunder's Kaden Verdin being named the Goalie of the Year.

Girls

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Fogelberg wasn't the only one to defend an MVP.

Merced's Alison Miller turned in another dominating performance as the Bears captured the league title. The MVP was Miller's third straight.

She wasn't the only Bear recognized with Jane Eckles also getting named to the first team. Buhach Colony's second-place finish in the CCC was rewarded with both Paloma Salazar and Hannah Ellett being named to the first team, while Atwater's Marissa Crider and Goalie of the Year Audrey DeBard (Golden Valley) round out the local list.

The second team is comprised of BC's Noelle Farrar, Merced's Claire Propes, Sarah Johnston and Denise Gilpatrick and GV's Dani Diele.

Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via e-mail at slynch@mercedsunstar.com.

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