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CCC's best named: Bolden wins tight MVP race

Bernard Bolden was surprised when he heard the news.

Despite some gaudy statistics turned in by teammate Stephon Mathis and Los Banos receiver Rubal Sangha, Central California Conference coaches named Bolden the league's most valuable player.

"I thought it was going to be Stephon or Rubal," Bolden said. "I was surprised when coach (Paul) Hogue told me it was me."

Bolden's versatility was the big reason he was named the MVP.

The Merced senior plays receiver and running back on offense and safety on defense.

He's also punts, and returns punts and kickoffs.

"For us, it was an easy choice because of all the things he does," said Merced coach Rob Scheidt, who was named Coach of the Year.

"He's even taken a snap at quarterback for us this season.

"As valuable as Jarrett (Sparks) was for us last year, Bernard was just as valuable with all the things he does."

Sangha and Mathis didn't come away empty handed.

Sangha, who caught 65 passes for a school-record 1,201 yards and 21 touchdowns, was named the Best Offensive Player.

Mathis was named to the all-CCC first team.

The league's other top awards went to Pitman's Adam Jennings as the Best Defensive Player and Turlock's Mason Russell, who was named Lineman of the Year.

Joining Mathis on the first team were Merced offensive linemen Renaud Freels and Nolan Flores and receiver Kenny Cooper.

Defensively, tackle Joseph Tehada, defensive end Nathan Mayfield and kicker D.J. Cherf all earned first-team honors.

Other local first-team selections included Los Banos quarterback Erik Martin and lineman Damon Bragner.

Teammates Manuel Lira and Jake Barcellos joined them from the defensive side of the ball.

Buhach Colony receiver Hodari Peterson was the only other area player to earn first-team honors.

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