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Oakdale, Sierra’s Cota garner VOL’s major awards

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Sierra High running back Anthony Cota has one defender to beat before scoring one of his school-record seven rushing touchdowns in nonleague game against Grace Davis.


POSTED December 8, 2012 1:04 a.m.

Not surprisingly, the 2012 All-Valley Oak League team is littered with Oakdale High players, but many Manteca-area athletes also got their due.

Anthony Cota highlights locals on the list, as he was tabbed the Outstanding Offensive Player. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound running back shattered single-game, single-season and career rushing records at Sierra (6-1, 10-2), the VOL’s runner-up.

Cota piled up 1,966 yards (7.7 per carry) and 38 touchdowns. He was also involved in the passing game, finishing with 259 yards and three TDs on 14 receptions while completing all four of his pass attempts for 88 yards and four scores. His 248 total points is ranked fourth in California according to Cota scampered for at least 300 yards in back-to-back shootout wins over league opponents Kimball and Sonora, totaling 10 touchdowns in the two games.

Fellow Timberwolf Guillermo Nunez was named one of the league’s top utility players along with Sonora’s Casey Holman. Nunez played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, safety and punter.

Ten of the Oakdale’s 11 starting defensive players were named to the first team, including two with major awards. They have given up an average of 11.2 points — only 7.9 in league —and are a big reason why Oakdale (7-0, 13-1 overall) is playing in the CIF State Division II Regional Bowl Game against Clayton Valley of Concord tonight.

Fullback/defensive end Nikk Ryan was voted MVP, defensive end Miko Arpoika is Co-Outstanding Defensive Player, and Coach of the Year Trent Merzon were Mustangs to garner top honors after capturing a sixth straight league championship. Spencer Thomas, a first-team quarterback, and Sean Harrity were named the Outstanding Punter and Kicker, respectively. Sonora inside linebacker Brandon Camara shares the defensive award with Arpoika and was selected to the first-team offense as a running back.

Two-way lineman Issac McClain of third-place Manteca (5-2 VOL, 6-5 overall) joined Camara as the only two players to make the All-VOL first team for both offense and defense. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound stalwart and junior classmate Billy Sharmoug, also a first-team selection, were a big part in the Buffaloes’ physical running game that produced a 1,000-yard rusher in Eddie Smith.

Sierra’s Aaron Thiel (1st-team offense, 2nd-team defense), Manteca’s Daniel Clemons (2nd-team offense, 1st-team defense) and East Union’s Josh Byrd (2nd-team offense, 2nd-team defense) — all linemen — are other two-way honorees.

Manteca tight end Matt Kuhnlenz (18 receptions, 227 yards, TD), Manteca receiver T.J. Galdos (49-616-7) and Sierra lineman Chuck Good were first-team selections for offense.

Area players picked for the second-team offense are Sierra quarterback Jake Pruitt (62.5 % completion percentage, 1,626 yards, 8 TDs, 5 picks ), Weston Ranch tight end Sean Visperas and East Union running back Mark Aguilar (777 rushing yards, 206 receiving, 5 TDs).

Manteca had five players named to the first-team defense, including aforementioned linemen McClain and Clemons. Smith (101 tackles, 4.0 sacks) earned a spot as an inside linebacker along with outside linebacker Sal Pena (68 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries) and defensive back Roger Rhodes (57 tackles). Clemons had 42 tackles and 3.0 sacks. Sierra linebacker Garrett DaVillanueva (58 tackles, 4 INTs) rounds out area first-team selections.

Making the cut for second-team defense:

• Weston Ranch — linebackers Candelario Elizondo (66 tackles) and Eddie Melero (56 tackles, 8 for losses, 3.5 sacks).

• Manteca — linebacker Keoki Farrish (59 tackles, 2.5 sacks) and cornerback Brandon Dabney (3 INTs, 16 passes defended).

• Sierra — linemen Mason Merilles (31 tackles, 2.0 sacks) and Thiel (50 tackles, 5.0 sackswa), defensive backs Justin DeHart (51 tackles) and Nunez (2 INTs) and linebacker Hunter Peterson (59 tackles, 2.0 sacks).

• East Union — linebacker Brennan Koeller (64 tackles, 8 for losses) and Byrd (47 tackles, 10 for losses, 5.0 sacks).

Earning honorable mention:

• Lathrop — FB/DL Alex Relova, Andrew Gaynor, QB/S Preston Rizo, TE/LB Austin Plunk, TE/LB Anthony Chavez and TE/DE Chuckie Garcia.

• Sierra — OL/DL Adam Bettencourt, LB Reid Maestas and WR Jordan Lewis.

• Manteca — LB Jacob LeDon, QB/S Ryan Fox, DE Nick Burrows, TE Michael Hatfield and RB/DB Alex Laurel.

• East Union — LB Will Cateineau, OL Rodrigo Alvarez and QB Aaron Ramos.

• Weston Ranch — RB/DB Alex Esan and RB/LB Marcus Vega Tatum.

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