All-Madera Tribune Football Team
Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Dominic Castaneda runs through the Golden West defense during a midseason game. Castaneda finished the year with 1,402 yards rushing in 13 games. He saved his best performances for the end of the year, averaging more than 140 yards per game over the final six games. He was dynamic when he needed to, including rushing for 155 yards in the Div. V Central Section Championship game. In fact, his play was so well respected that the Righetti-Santa Maria head coach made it a point to reach out to Castaneda after the Section Championship game to shake his hand. Castaneda’s 2021 performance can be one for the books. Not only did he earn The Madera Tribune Football team’s Most Valuable Player Award for the 2021 fall season, but he also earned it for the spring season. He is the only player in the 11 year history of the All-Tribune award to earn two football MVP awards.
Most Valuable Player
RB-DB Sr. Liberty
Leading the Liberty Hawks to the Div. V Section Championship Game in 2021, Dominic Castaneda rightfully earned the 2021 All-Madera Tribune team MVP. The senior dominated on the ground, utilizing his strength and power to bulldoze his way through Liberty’s opponents. He is the only two-time The Madera Tribune Most Valuable Player in the 11-year history of the team. He saved his best performances for last. In his first seven games of the season, Castaneda averaged 79 yards per game. However, over the final six games, he averaged 141.5 yards per game with five 100-plus yard games and a career-high 238-yard game. He finished with 1,402 yards this year, fifth all-time in Liberty history. His name is all over the Liberty record book. He finished with 1,913 career yards, which is eighth all-time despite not playing in a potential eight games because of COVID. He also had 18 rushing touchdowns this year, good for a tie for fourth place and had 25 for his career (7th all-time). Last season, he broke a 14-yard old record for most interceptions in a season. Not only did he do it in a five-game season, but he shattered the record of five with eight picks. He combined that with six more this year to set the career mark of 14. Castaneda scored 21 touchdowns this year for 126 points, which is seventh all-time. Castaneda was the North Sequoia League’s Co-Offensive Player of the Year and also was a first team running back and a second team defensive back.
Offensive Player of the Year
WR Sr. Madera
What can’t Madera Coyotes dual-sport star Logan Wattenbarger do — speed, athleticism, toughness and a knack for coming up big in the moment, Wattenbarger was the favorite target of quarterback Beau Green. Wattenbarger flashed his skill set against some of the best defenses in the CMAC. Not too mention his ability on defense, the Coyote senior was one of the best all-around players in the Central Valley. Wattenbarger’s spot on the CMAC first team list solidified his stellar senior campaign. He was given the first team award over players from Bullard, San Joaquin Memorial and Sanger. Not only was Wattenbarger a star on offense, but he covered the best receiver on defense and was the team’s long snapper on special teams. This is Wattenbarger’s second All-Tribune selection. He will also play in the California Best of the West Army All-Star game, which will feature some of the top players in the Central Section against some of the best players in the Northern Section.
Defensive Player of the Year
DB Sr. Madera
Madera’s Adam Landero was a leader on the field for the Coyotes throughout the season. Whether it was a vocal presence, or his play on the field, Landero proved to be the most decisive defensive player in Madera. Landero’s quick instincts provided the Coyotes with a boost not only in the run game, but also in the secondary. The Coyotes will have big shoes to fill as Landero often operated at an extremely high level. He led the team in tackles from his safety position. Landero was selected to the CMAC first team for the 2021 season. He is also the second straight Coyote player to receive Defensive Player of the Year honors. Landero will join Wattenbarger in the Army All-Star football game.
Utility Player of the Year
RB-LB Jr. Liberty
Whaley is the do-it-all for Liberty head coach Mike Nolte. He can pound the rock or he can take it to the outside. He also is the leader of the defensive unit. Whaley rushed for 814 yards this season with eight rushing touchdowns and has another year to go. He is also one of eight Liberty players to record 100 or more tackles in a season. He was second on the team with 108 tackles, including a season-high 17 in one game. Whaley also stepped in and took over placekicking duties. He was nine-of-13 on point after attempts. Whaley was named the NSL’s Utility Player of the Year and earned first team All-NSL honors at linebacker and second team honors at running back.
QB Sr. Madera
Beau Green brought a spark to the Madera Coyotes that energized not only the fan base, but the team. Green’s powerful arm and knack for the big play translated to a high-powered Coyote offense. Although Green had a single year with the Coyotes, the senior garnered attention, not only from rivals throughout the County/Metro Athletic Conference, but also prospective colleges from around the country as Green’s heroics became newsworthy. The Coyote senior earned a spot on the 2021 CMAC first team list despite missing multiple games because of an injury.
RB Jr. Madera South
Madera South’s Angelo Moreno was part of a ground game from Madera South that pounded the rock at every opportunity. Whether it was a short yard pickup, or a long run down the field, Moreno provided expressiveness out of one of the most important positions for the Stallions. Moreno earned second team All-CMAC honor and is a two-time All-Madera Tribune recipient.
RB So. Madera
Madera’s Jason Escobar was a threat not only between the tackles but in the passing game as well. A sophomore, Escobar has a lot of room for growth as he enters his second varsity season as the Coyotes main running back. In an offense that focuses on the run and pass, Escobar is a perfect fit for head coach Kenny Paolinelli.
RB Jr. Madera South
Under head coach Matt Johnson, the Stallions have shown progress in all aspects of the team, including the running back room. Erik Cervantes had the power to hit the A gap, but the quickness and speed to break a run off the tackle. Cervantes was a key cog in what was one of the best rushing attacks in the CMAC. He, along with Moreno, formed the All-CMAC second team backfield.
WR Sr. Madera
Madera’s Ramon Ruiz was a constant for the Coyotes offense. With Green behind center, Ruiz found himself as a security blanket at times for Green who always found the crafty Coyotes receiver with Wattenbarger garnering a lot of attention. Ruiz finished the season as one of the main weapons on the Coyote offense. He earned a second team honor on the All-CMAC list.
TE Jr. Liberty
Nulick was almost an afterthought on the Liberty offensive line. Although Liberty doesn’t use the tight end to catch passes, Nolte relies on them to be an extension of the offensive line. Nulick stepped in after the third game and never let his spot go. He was a steady blocker on the line and helped open big holes. He earned an All-NSL first team honor.
OL Sr. Madera
After a stellar 2021 football season, Coyotes lineman Manuel Hernandez not only earned his place on the All-Madera Tribune Football team, but also first team CMAC for his ability both in the passing and run game. Hernandez proved to be a dominating presence on the field and a leader in the locker room.
OL Sr. Madera South
For a team that ran the ball as much as Madera South, having strong and durable lineman was a must and Diego Talavera fit that bill. Talavera was a stout blocker throughout the season allowing the trio of Stallions running backs to find holes in the opposing front seven. Talavera ends the season with his head held high after helping his Stallions overcome in 2021. Talavera earned a second team All-CMAC honor and is a two-time All-Tribune selection with last year’s honor coming on the defensive line.
Davey Pombo, Jared Nolte and Tyler Edwards
OL Jr. Liberty
The scariest thing about the trio is they will all be back next season. Pombo started as a freshman and is a two-time All-Tribune selection. If the Hawks have a big gain, most of the time, No. 52 was the one opening the holes. Nolte is the son of the head coach, but is making a name for himself. Nolte’s bread-and-butter is to pull and led the way on the vaunted Hawk sweeps. Those defensive backs’ eyes didn’t like to see No. 55 come their way. Edwards is a solid performer on the other side of the line. You didn’t hear his name yelled too often, but for an offensive lineman, that is a good thing. Pombo and Nolte earned All-NSL first team honors and Edwards as a second team honoree.
DL Sr. Madera
The first team All-CMAC lineman was a force for the Coyotes defense that showed flashes of greatness throughout the season. A tough showing against Sanger, to a six-turnover performance against Bullard and, of course, a pick-six during a televised game against Kerman, Flores was a playmaker all season long and rightfully takes his place on the 2021 All-Madera Tribune team.
DL Sr. Madera South
The Stallions defensive line was stout and strong thanks in part to Roldan Alberto-Flores. Not only a strong player in the trenches, but a leader amongst the team. When there was a big play being made, most of the time Roldan was the name getting called on the public address system. He was a second team All-CMAC selection. “Without question, the most magnificent undersized defensive lineman I’ve ever been around,” head coach Matt Johnson said.
DL Jr. Madera South
Joseph Velasquez was a key cog in the machine that was the Madera South defensive line. Velasquez chipped in his constant effort throughout the season to give his Stallions a boost in a back and blue CMAC. With Alberto-Flores along the line, Velasquez did his own work. He was a CMAC honorable mention. A two-way player on the line. “If he decides to play as hard as Roldon, his sky is the limit,” Johnson said.
DL Sr. Liberty
When Rojas was out for a couple of games, the line play suffered. However, when he was in the game, you could tell. He led the defensive linemen in tackles despite playing in 10 of 13 games. His 70 tackles is fourth-most by a Liberty defensive lineman. He was third on the team in tackles for losses and had two sacks. He had a season-high 13 tackles in Liberty’s win over Chowchilla and added 10 more on the championship game. He earned second team All-NSL honors and is a two-time All-Tribune selection.
DL Jr. Liberty
Pombo anchored the middle of the offensive line. He was a first team All-NSL selection as both an offensive and defensive lineman. This is also his second All-Tribune selection on both the offensive and defensive lines. Pombo was a force in the middle, clogging up lanes, penetrating tough opposing defensive lines. So much that much of the opposing running attacks tried to go away from Pombo in the middle. He had 10 tackles for loss, including four quarterback sacks.
DL Jr. Liberty
When he wasn’t jumping offsides, Nulick was the perfect opposite to Rojas. Nulick was good for at least one offsides penalty a game. However, he did enough good things to remain on coach Nolte’s good side. He recorded 58 tackles, second amongst defensive linemen. He also had 15 tackles for losses with 3.5 quarterback sacks. He was a second team All-NSL selection.
LB Sr. Madera
Playing defense in the high-scoring CMAC is no easy task, yet Arezola seemed to have a nose for the ball. Both strong and smart, Arezola was a rock for the Coyotes defense throughout the season. Arezola played outside linebacker/safety. He finished behind Landero for the team lead in tackles and was a second team All-CMAC member.
Mitchell Whaley, Vince Oberti, Caleb Sisco
LB Jr. Liberty
The trio was a force to be reckoned with, especially late in the season. They were a main reason why Liberty recorded three straight shutouts at the end of the year. Sisco anchored the linebacking crew when he was installed as the starter midway through the season. When Oberti got his hands on you, most of the time, you went down. Oberti led the team in tackles with 116, which is fifth most all-time and is just one of eight players with more than 100 tackles in a season. Whaley was just all over the place. When there was a play being made, No. 21 could be seen around the ball. Whaley was a first team All-NSL selection, while Oberti earned an honorable mention. Both Whaley and Oberti earned All-Madera Tribune honors last season.
LB Sr. Madera South
Smith has been in the middle of the Madera South defense for the past three years. Many times, you could see No. 42 in the middle of the action for the Stallions. He has been the team’s defensive leader for the past two years and can be counted on to make the big play. He is a two-time All-Tribune selection and earned a CMAC honorable mention.
DB Jr. Madera South
The Stallions secondary wouldn’t be the same without Ruben Marines. His instincts on the field allowed not only himself to make an impact, but his teammates as well. Marines was key as the Stallions faced a tough schedule in 2021. His ability to cover one-on-one helped fill the loss of Alberto Torres from last year. He was an All-CMAC honorable mention.
DB Sr. Liberty
Unfortunately, Sano was targeted and called for a few pass interference penalties. However, most often, Sano was breaking up a pass. He led the team with 10 pass break-ups and had an interception. He wasn’t afraid of contact and made 41 tackles. Sano was a NSL honorable mention. Sano also earned second team All-NSL honors at wide receiver.
DB Sr. Madera
Making the list as both a receiver and defensive back, Wattenbarger showcased his unique skillet seemingly every play as he played a pivotal role for the Coyotes in 2021. Lining up across the opposing teams’ best player, Wattenbarger showed his importance and leaves a lasting legacy as one of the best athletes to don the blue and white.
K-P Sr. Madera
When you have a leg like Lozano, you can use him like a weapon, especially when your head coach was also a punter. Madera head coach Kenny Paolinelli said he never had the leg like Lozano, who averaged near 40 yards a punt last year. He was equally adept at putting the ball in the air to allow the coverage to run under it on both punts and kickoffs. He also handed point after and field goal kicking duties.