All-Madera Tribune Football Team (Spring 2021 edition)
Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Dominic Castaneda runs around the Washington Union-Easton defense. He did a lot of running around defenses to average more than 100 yards per game, in addition to picking off a school record eight passes in five games. The junior is the Madera Tribune’s Football Most Valuable Player.
Most Valuable Player
Dominic Castaneda, RB-DB Jr. Liberty
One of the more dynamic players for head coach Mike Nolte in recent years. Castaneda basically takes all of Nolte’s past running backs and molds it into one player. He can outrun tacklers, has great field vision, can elude defenders and run some over. Castaneda averaged 6.5 yards rushing per carry and more than 100 yards per game (511 yards). He scored seven touchdowns in five games. In addition, Castaneda set a school record with eight interceptions in a season — and he did it in just five games. He scored a touchdown on defense and averaged more than 27 yards per interception return to go with 17 tackles on the season. You don’t think with this type of player, Nolte didn’t use him on special teams, as well. Castaneda averaged 19.3 yards per kick-off return and averaged 21.8 yards on four punt returns this year. He also averaged 32.1 yards per punt. The do-it-all player did this in his junior year so this year, more is expected out of Castaneda’s senior season.
Defensive Player of the Year
Ricky Garcia, LB Sr. Madera
Garcia did his talking on the field. The Coyote linebacker was an intimidating force in the opponent’s backfield, but also a leader within the Coyote defense. The Madera senior had his tackles for loss, interceptions, big hits and, most importantly, victories. Garcia leaves the Madera as one of the best defensive players in the last five years. When talking to head coach Kenny Paolinelli who their Most Valuable Player was, without hesitation, he named Garcia. That’s how important he was to the Coyotes’ defense.
Utility Player of the Year
Nick Anselmo, RB-LB Sr. Liberty
Talk about a jack-of-all trades, Anselmo was it for Nolte. If Nolte needed a tough yard, it was Anselmo’s ball. If Nolte was near the goal line and needed a touchdown, Anselmo got the call. If there was a key tackle to be made, Anselmo was usually around the ball. He beat out Castaneda for most rushing yards this season with 517 yards while scoring 11 touchdowns. Out of his 89 rushes, 40 went for first downs. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry. Anselmo was also fourth on the team in tackles with 28, but led the team in solo tackles for loss. He was the leader in the middle of the defense.
David Zavala, QB Sr. Madera
Although his season was cut short, David Zavala proved to be an effective runner and thrower in the Coyotes’ system. Zavala’s ability to hit the big play and ability to tuck it and run, allowed the Coyotes to employ a dynamic offense.
Jeremiah Sanchez, RB Sr. Madera
Catching passes, running between the tackles and more, Sanchez was a key piece for the Coyotes for years. Sanchez had a knack for big plays, but earned his place amongst the team for his hard-nosed running.
Tayte Grantham, RB Jr. Madera South
Any time Grantham touches the ball, there is a chance he could go all the way with it. In two home games this year, Grantham gained 160 yards and averaged almost seven yards per carry. He also caught three balls for 77 yards and a touchdown. He has home run speed and great things are in the horizon for the Stallions’ backfield.
Angelo Moreno, RB Jr. Madera South
Like Anselmo for Liberty and Nolte, Moreno was that for head coach Matt Johnson and the Stallions. When the tough yardage was needed, Moreno got the call. He got the tough yards and still averaged more than five yards per carry. He led a young backfield last year that gained experience this year. Expect great things from Moreno, Grantham, Erik Cervantez and Jacob Edwards, who all rushed for more than 100 yards in three games last year.
Raul Medrano, WR Sr. Madera
Medrano might’ve been the most exciting player in the County/Metro Athletic Conference. On the ground, in the air with his deep-threat ability and even his arm at quarterback, Medrano leaves big shoes to fill at Madera. Multi-dimensional players like Medrano don’t come around often.
Logan Wattenbarger, WR Jr. Madera
There wasnt a single route in the Coyotes playbook Logan Wattenbarger couldn’t run. Wattenbarger was all over the field in every game he played during the 2021 season. Not only was his ability to catch the ball on display, his toughness and strength after the catch gave the Coyotes a needed punch on offense.
Diego Rojas, TE Jr. Liberty
Although Rojas gets this by default as the other schools didn’ field a tight end, that doesn’t mean Rojas doesn’t deserve this selection. He was used as an extension of the Liberty offensive line averaged almost 300 rushing yards per game. Liberty running backs averaged five yards per carry and scored 23 touchdowns. Rojas also caught a pass this year and it went for quarterback Diego Piedra’s lone touchdown.
Brad Wallace, OL Sr. Liberty
Wallace grew up watching Liberty football. Following his brothers Wade and Chad, Brad had green and gold flowing through his veins. Although his brothers carried the ball, Brad was dominant in opening holes. He was not a good sight to see as a defensive back coming to fill the hole and No. 62 boring down on you. He was the key figure in why Castaneda and Anselmo were so effective. When Castaneda went to the outside, most likely No. 62 was leading the way.
Dylan Cardoza, OL Sr. Liberty
With Cardoza filling up the middle of the offense, defenses had a tough time trying to penetrate through. Cardoza got most of the snaps at center and held his own. He occupied two defenders and allowed his guards to go to the second level and open holes for Liberty’s dynamic backs. Cardoza was also selected to the City-County All-Star football game with Wallace and Anselmo.
Davey Pombo, OL Soph. Liberty
The youngin of the group, but one of the better ones. Pombo could go down as one of the best offensive linemen at Liberty and that’s saying quite a bit. He started on the line as a freshman and hasn’t slowed down since. He will shift over to center this year and expect another solid, if not, great season.
Devin Delgado, OL Sr. Liberty
Delgado was the biggest Stallions’ offensive lineman at 6-2, 270 pounds. Although he was the biggest, he was also the best. Most of the Stallions’ running plays went off tackle and he was the one leading the charge. He was the leader of a resurgent Stallions’ squad this season.
Anthony Serrano, OL Sr. Madera
Serrano, along with his offensive line teammates, might be the unsung heroes seemingly year in and year out. There’s nothing flashy about being an o-lineman, but they are integral to any success the team has. Serrano was that for Madera with a strong season in the trenches.
Jayson Ruiz, OL Jr. Madera
With a high-powered offense like Madera’s, blocking was a key component and Ruiz was right in the middle. Ruiz proved to be a reliable Coyote during a turbulent 2021 campaign. As one of the few schools in the CMAC that can run and throw the ball, a ton of credit goes to Ruiz and the offensive lineman.
Davey Pombo, DL Soph. Liberty
Pombo and Cardoza switched off in the middle of the defense, but like they did on offense, they did on defense. Pombo was good at holding his blockers to allow the linebackers to attack the ball carriers. He still recorded 12 tackles and led the team with two sacks. Only a junior this year, expect great things.
Diego Rojas, DL Jr. Liberty
Although he may get fooled at times with the misdirection, when running backs came his way, most of the time, Rojas made the tackle. Although slender for a lineman, he has long arms to engage in a blocker and he doesn’t miss many tackles. He led defensive linemen with 24 tackles, including a team-leading eight tackles for losses. He also had an interception.
Diego Talavera, DL Jr. Madera South
Talavera just sounds like a defensive lineman’s name. He led the Madera South defensive line with 12 tackles in three games. He is strong enough to hold the blocks and attack the ball carrier. Expect a lot out of last year’s young defense that is now an experienced defense.
Josh Griffin, DL Jr. Madera
With Griffin’s size and strength, he was a nightmare for opposing lineman. The Madera junior showcased his ability and flashed his potential during the shortened 2021 season. Expect big things from the Coyote d-lineman.
Sergio Rios-Garcia, DL Jr. Madera
The Coyotes had some big men on defense in 2021 and Rios-Garcia was one. The stout and tough defensive line was tested week in and week out in the CMAC and never backed down. The Madera d-line helped force six turnovers in a game against Bullard and Rios-Garcia was a vital piece to the puzzle.
Vince Oberti and Mitchell Whaley, LB Jr. Liberty
Oberti played second fiddle to Anselmo, but while Anselmo and Wallace were getting the highlights, Oberti did his job for 42 tackles in five games. He had six tackles for losses and was instrumental on the outside for the Hawks. Whaley was just as efficient on the other side to lead the Hawks with 45 tackles and four tackles for losses. The tandem leads the Hawks on defense this season.
Jackson Smith, LB Jr. Madera South
Smith is a tackling machine for the Stallions. Operating in the middle of the defense, Smith has the lateral speed to chase after the ball. He had 15 tackles with two tackles for loss in three games for Madera South. He made some key stops for the Stallions.
Christian Marroquin, LB Sr. Madera South
Marroquin was as solid as they come in the middle of the Madera South defense. Once he got his arms around the ball carrier, he came down. He led the Stallions with 19 tackles, including nine solo tackles. He also forced a fumble in three home games.
Aiden Owens, LB Soph. Madera
The sophomore linebacker played beyond his years. Despite playing in the black-and-blue CMAC, the underclassmen stepped up when called upon. Owens looks to not only improve heading into next season, but be a big piece on a stout Coyote defense.
Rudy Valdez, DB Jr. Madera South
Playing safety, Valdez was the safety valve for the Stallions. He recorded 15 tackles, good for second on the team with Smith. He also had three tackles for loss coming from the defensive backfield. He was the leaders of the defense and played by example.
Alberto Torres, DB Sr. Madera South
The heart and soul of the Madera South football team for the past three seasons. Although not the biggest player on the field, Torres had the biggest heart and most passion. He played against bigger players, the that didn’t affect his play. He recorded 11 tackles, an interception, two passes defended and recovered a fumble.
Victor Lopez, DB Sr. Liberty
Lopez was one of those players that played under the radar. Playing cornerback, most of the time they get noticed is if they made a mistake. Lopez didn’t do that very often. He recorded 14 tackles from his defensive backfield spot and was a fixture at corner all year.
Saul Amezola, DB Jr. Madera
Amezola and his fellow defensive backs didn’t have it easy in the CMAC. With the weapons and athletes lining up on the outside, the Coyotes had to be ready. For Amezola, he proved to be a valuable piece in a pass-happy league. Amezola’s work ethic and intelligence sets him up for a big 2021-22 season.
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Editor’s Note: Year in school is what year they were during the 2021 spring season.