Before ever playing a match, the future of District 12-6A soccer appears bright.
Despite failing to get any team other than Waco Midway past the opening round of the playoffs this season, a youth movement overtook the area with a number of up-and-coming players causing coaches to scratch their heads when it comes to the tabbing a future superstar.
Belton junior Ryan Diaz and sophomore standouts Gabriel Colon and Ahmad Holt, of Harker Heights and Ellison, respectively, split the 8-5A All-District Newcomer of the Year award, giving their teams reason to believe the transition into their redesigned district will be a smooth one.
Diaz led the Tigers to another strong showing in the regular season before Mansfield eliminated them in the first round, while Holt helped the Eagles reach the postseason for just the second time in 13 years.
The Knights were unable to capitalize on Colon’s breakout campaign, losing grasp of fourth place in the district standings with a 3-1 loss to the Panthers in the regular season finale, but have a strong core poised to make a run at returning to the playoffs.
Four Harker Heights players, including two juniors and a sophomore, landed on the all-district list, with first-team selection Austin Roden serving as the Knights’ lone senior selection. Harker Heights junior Layne Broihier joins Roden on the first team, while Jonathan Madera was placed on the second team along with underclassman Cody Cook.
The Eagles, however, were predominately represented on the list by seniors with William Barbrow highlighting the group after being named defensive MVP. Classmates Juan Pulido, Lateef Alli and Jonathon Keene were all named to the first team, and second-team selections Anthony Harlan, Richard Gamblin and Shabba Armbrister, were also recognized.
With eight selections, Ellison tied Temple for third most behind defending district champion Midway and Belton. The Panthers had five first-team and five second-team selections, in addition to senior Leo Peralta being named District MVP, Logan Hickney receiving midfielder of the year honors, and Patrick Posey being named coach of the year.
Belton senior Nick Amato earned the offensive MVP award, while seniors Cesar Cruz, Jose Guzman and Ryan Parker, and junior Brandan Coulter made the first team. Ricardo Mendoza and Stephen Corlew capped off their high school careers by landing on the second team along with junior Blake Odell and sophomore Austin Hagen.
Rounding out the superlative award winners is Temple junior Brett Wilson, who was named goalkeeper of the year. Cruz Martinez and Tinashe Meki, who are both seniors for the Wildcats, were placed on the first team, while junior Ryan Snot also made the list. Temple’s Cole Martin, Zach Bergstrom and Temple Otamba were each placed on the second team.
A trio of seniors rounded out the first team as James Ford, Min Ji and Antonio Loffredi landed on the list for Shoemaker, Killeen and Copperas Cove, respectively. Grey Wolves teammates Horacio De La Pena and Daniel Almendarez were each placed on the second team, as was Kangaroos junior Alex Gilland and Bulldawgs senior Alex Sinclaire.
8-5A ALL-DISTRICT BOYS TEAM
District MVP — Leo Peralta, Waco Midway, Sr.
Offensive MVP — Nick Amato, Belton, Sr.
Defensive MVP — William Barbrow, Ellison, Sr.
Midfielder MVP — Logan Hickey, Midway, Sr.
Goalkeeper MVP — Brett Wilson, Temple, Jr.
Co-Newcomers of the Year — Ryan Diaz, Belton, Jr.; Gabriel Colon, Harker Heights, So.; Ahmad Holt, Ellison, So.
Coach of the Year — Patrick Posey, Midway
Midway — Emanuel Barbus, Sr.; Danny Del Real, Sr.; Josue Santacruz, Sr.; Bubu Alvarez, Sr.; Jesse Watters, Jr.
Belton — Cesar Cruz, Sr.; Jose Guzman, Sr.; Ryan Parker, Sr.; Brandan Coulter, Jr.
Temple — Cruz Martinez, Sr.; Tinashe Meki, Sr.; Ryan Snot, Jr.
Ellison — Juan Pulido, Sr.; Lateef Alli, Sr.; Jonathon Keene, Sr.
Harker Heights — Layne Broihier, Jr.; Austin Roden, Sr.
Shoemaker — James Ford, Sr.
Killeen — Min Ji, Sr.
Copperas Cove — Antonio Loffredi, Sr.
Midway — Robert Vick, Jr.; Joseph Arvizo, Sr.; Jon Sabido, Jr.; Simon Wang, Sr.; Parker Cannon, Sr.
Belton — Ricardo Mendoza, Sr.; Stephen Corlew, Sr.; Blake Odell, Jr.; Austin Hagen, So.
Temple — Cole Martin, So.; Zach Bergstrom, Sr.; Temple Otamba, Sr.
Ellison — Anthony Harlan, Sr.; Richard Gamblin, Sr.; Shabba Armbrister, Sr.
Harker Heights — Cody Cook, So.; Jonathan Madera, Jr.
Shoemaker — Horacio DeLaPena, Sr.; Daniel Almendarez, Jr.
Killeen — Alex Gilland, Jr.
Copperas Cove — Alex Sinclaire, Sr.
Midway — Ian Field, Sr.; Scott Skolaski, Sr.; Jude Hurstman, Sr.
Belton — Paxton Smith, Jr.; Chris Noble, So.; Jacob Bell, Jr.
Temple — Michael Tay, Sr.; Roman Zavaleta, Sr.; Seville Harris, Sr.
Ellison — Marquis Wood, Sr.; Alex Fuerte, Sr.; Marvin Galloway, Jr.
Harker Heights — Irvin Barco, Jr.; Austin Russell, Sr.; Luis Garcia, Sr.
Shoemaker — Raul Sandoval, Jr.; Bryce Green, Sr.
Killeen — Osmar Garcia, Sr.; Noah Bermea, So.; Dominic Dungca, Sr.
Copperas Cove — Andrew Chapman, Jr.; Bryce Alexander, Jr.; Jayson Stanley, Jr.