The 2020 Stephenville Yellow Jackets didn’t get to show what they could do in the soccer playoffs, but they showed more than enough to dominate in the all-District 6-4A voting.
The district champion Yellow Jackets racked up five superlative awards, including the league’s overall Most Valuable player, senior Jorge Gallegos. A year ago as a junior, Gallegos was the district’s Offensive MVP.
SHS senior Eduardo Campos is the district’s Defensive MVP this season, while junior teammate J.J. Saldana captured the Offensive MVP award. Freshman Anferny Moreno is the Offensive Newcomer of the Year. Saldana, the team’s leading scorer, also made the first team following the 2019 season, and Campos had received honorable mention.
And SHS head coach Taylor Smith is the Coach of the Year.
Also for Stephenville’s boys, first-team all-district honors went to Miguel Moreno, Parker Plaxco, Julian Tamayo and Andrew Kitchens. Plaxco had been Offensive Newcomer of the Year for the 2019 season.
The Yellow Jackets who made the all-district second team this year are Taylor Hefner, Cody Miller, Paden Benham and Jorge Castro. Hefner and Miller had received honorable mention the year before. Castro began the season on the junior varsity, but was moved up to the varsity to play goal keeper after junior Daniel Osornio was sidelined with an injury.
Yellow Jackets who received honorable mention this season are Juan Guevara, Alfonso Moreno, Mitchell Pack, John Binkley, Emmanuel Fraga and Hayden Hoelscher.
Smith said that the voting between himself and the other two head coaches in the soccer district was done via Zoom on Monday, and went about as well as it could under the circumstances.
“I thought it all worked out pretty much the way we expected it to,” Smith said, noting that the normal all-district voting in person would involve voting for the players on slips of paper. “The honors J.J. and Jorge got were definitely well deserved.”
The Yellow Jackets had already wrapped up the district title before the season was shut down, while Mineral Wells was second and Brownwood was third.
Stephenville finished the season at 14-6-2, and was 4-1 in district, although the final district game — versus Brownwood — was canceled when the season came to a close because of the COVID-19 pandemic concerns. Mineral Wells was the runner-up at 3-2 and Brownwood was third.
But the Yellow Jackets never got the chance to follow up on the playoff success of last season. That 2019 campaign was when the Jackets had their best soccer playoff run ever, reaching the Region I-4A championship game before falling to San Elizario, which went on to win its second straight state championship.
“It’s disappointing most of all for the seniors,” Smith said. “They won’t get to make a run in the playoffs. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to do what’s best for everybody, health-wise. There’s nothing we can do about it. There’s no point in moping around.”
While saying the team had no control over the way the 2020 season came to a sudden end, Smith also couldn’t help but wonder what the Yellow Jackets might have done as a follow-up to their best season ever.
“I definitely think we had the talent and the motivation to make another run to go as far as we did last year, if not farther,” Smith said.
The seniors who will be lost to graduation are Danny Gonzalez, Jose Avalos and Prince Pathak, in addition to Alfonso Moreno, Emmanuel Fraga, Jorge Gallegos and Eduardo Campos.
Note: SHS player photos are courtesy of Vasara Photography.