The top offensive and defensive players shared the Southern League's Most Valuable Player award, giving one of the West Side's most heated rivalries another issue to debate.
Gustine running back Oliver Perez and Orestimba middle linebacker Octavio Perez were named co-MVPs in a recent vote of the league's coaches.
The seniors left their mark in their final prep season. Oliver Perez led the league in rushing with 1,652 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Perez racked up 107 tackles and three interceptions for the three-time defending Southern League champions.
For Octavio Perez, the individual award completes a storybook season.
Orestimba (10-1) finished the season as The Bee's No. 1-ranked small-school program for the first time in school history and hosted a Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff game. The Warriors were beaten by Colfax, the eventual section runner-up.
Aaron Souza was named Coach of the Year after guiding his program to its second 10-0 regular season in the last three years. During that stretch, Orestimba has won 21 consecutive Southern League games.
Octavio Perez wasn't alone in the spotlight.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound tackling machine was joined by 10 other Warriors on the all-SL first team, including quarterback Jacob Bettencourt, the Offensive Player of the Year; Andres Alvarez, the co-Offensive Lineman of the Year; and Jamie Munoz, the Defensive Lineman of the Year.
Bettencourt led the SL in completion percentage (66.5 percent, 131 of 197), touchdown passes (28), and QB rating (128.2). He was second to Mariposa's Colton Weidner (2,242), an all-SL second-team selection, in passing yards with 2,170.
Rounding out the Warriors' first-team selections were: offensive lineman Santiago Meza; running back Tymon Bolden (1,382 yards, 20 TDs); wide receiver Tyler Vargas (874 yards, 12 TDs); defensive lineman Joel Rodriguez (6.5 sacks); defensive end Thomas Warner (9.5 sacks); and defensive back Brayan Martinez (63 tackles).
Oliver Perez carried Gustine (8-3) to a runner-up finish. Gustine was 6-0 going into its regular-season finale with Orestimba, but suffered its third straight loss in The Battle for Wooden Chief, 35-0.
Gustine advanced to the Division VI playoffs, losing to eventual runner-up Modesto Christian in the opening round. Oliver Perez was a force in the final month. He closed the season with four straight 100-yard games, including 254 yards against Le Grand and a season-high 277 yards in the season-ending loss to the Crusaders.
Oliver Perez was joined on the first team by offensive lineman Daniel Caldera, who, like Perez, started three seasons at the varsity level. Caldera was the co-Offensive Lineman of the Year and a first-team pick on the defensive line.
Daniel Rowlett (11 catches, 244 yards, four TDs) was a first-team tight end, while Perez (56 tackles, three interceptions) was also a first-team defensive back.
Ripon Christian's Willem Hoekstra was the Defensive Player of the Year after developing into one of the most disruptive forces in the SL. Hoekstra had 76 tackles, forced five fumbles and finished second in the SL with 11.5 sacks.
The rest of the all-SL first team included: Ripon Christian offensive lineman Tristan DeShields, defensive lineman Justin Heida (68 tackles), and defensive back Sean McGovern (73 tackles, three interceptions); Mariposa offensive lineman and middle linebacker Ryan Leonard (124 tackles) and wide receiver Leo Kari (504 yards, three TDs); and Delhi ultility player Alecxis Miranda (1,227 total yards) and defensive back German Lua (66 tackles).
Earning second team honors were: Offensive line: Julian Moreno, Delhi; Joseph Quinn, Mariposa; Drew Van Vliet, Ripon Christian; Daniel Wilson, Gustine; and Cameron West, Waterford. Running back: Michael Kamps, Ripon Christian. Quarterback: Colton Weidner, Mariposa. Wide receiver: Michael Dinkins, Le Grand; and Jacob Sheldon, Orestimba. Utility (offense): Hunter Musgrave, Denair. Defensive line: Garrett Bryan, Ripon Christian; Zack Plascencia, Waterford; Elio Garcia, Le Grand; and Daniel Martinez, Le Grand. Defensive end: Alden Dustry, Mariposa; Jose Saucedo, Delhi; and Alex Guerrero, Gustine. Middle linebacker: Hector Esquivez, Gustine; and Miguel Gamino, Delhi. Defensive backs: Anthony Contreras, Orestimba; Dillon Zuidervaart, Ripon Christian; Dalton Talbot, Mariposa; Alvan Prasad, Delhi; and Jonathan Maldonado, Le Grand. Utility (defense): JC Davies, Mariposa.