Ernesto Hernandez is skilled enough to score, but he is also good enough that he does not have to.
Despite being a sophomore, Gatesville’s midfielder is talented beyond his years, immediately developing into a force for the Hornets, who made the playoffs for a second consecutive season in 2014.
In part, the team’s repeat run to the postseason was due to Hernandez’s overflow of talent, according to Gatesville head coach Van Collins.
“He is very special, and if a teammate is not open, he can get them open without them ever moving,” Collins said.
“He can dribble around whoever he needs to, get out of the way and make a lane for someone else. That’s how special he is.”
Along with helping the Hornets return to the playoffs, Hernandez’s unique abilities as an underclassman also earned him the title of Killeen Daily Herald All-Area Newcomer of the Year.
The breakout performance comes one year after Hernandez was buried on the bench of a senior-laden squad during his freshman season.
Although Hernandez was being used sparingly, his potential was always evident.
“I knew he was capable of being a productive player last year,” Collins said, “but we had such a good team of seniors that it was hard to put a freshman in one of those senior’s spots even though he might have been more skilled than some of those guys.”
This is not the first lofty accolade bestowed on Hernandez, however.
After scoring 12 goals in District 34-4A play, Hernandez was named all-district co-midfield MVP along with Lampasas senior Dustin Rumple, while Robinson junior Claudio Flores received the award for newcomer of the year.
Now, Collins expects Hernandez to live up to the high praise in the upcoming seasons, believing he will become a cornerstone of the program.
“Just having him on the field will let everyone know we have a shot to win this game,” Collins said.
“We have a chance to be special for two more years. That’s just the way it is because of him. Next year, we are hoping to have the team we’ve been waiting on. Our senior leadership is there, and he’s got playmakers all around him right now. Then, the next year, hopefully, he is going to take over.”