Although the Longhorn soccer team’s season wasn’t what coach Chad Gower was hoping for, there were four individuals who received all-region honors.
Ben Sandoval and Jerry Renteria were named to the All-East team and Shane Crisp and Derek Williams reaped honorable mention recognition.
Gower lauded Sandoval as “consistently the hardest working player throughout the year.
“He was the only player who stood up and told the team what he expected and followed through with it.”
He also praised Sandoval for using his tenacious wrestling mentality to lead the team during trying times. During the course of the season, when a key player was sidelined for several games, Sandoval stepped up to take over the defense.
“Ben is a quick learner, aggressive player and a leader,” Gower said.
Also, Sandoval’s conduct and sense of fair play was never in doubt.
“I had several coaches come up and tell me Ben was a good sportsman,” the coach said.
Gower praised Renteria as the best soccer player at Payson High School and one who led by example.
“During practice, Jerry would often try to help the younger and less knowledgeable players by showing them position, when to pass and when to shoot.”
Renteria finished the campaign as the team’s second-leading scorer with nine goals and was second in assists with five.
During the year, Renteria played every single position, including goalie.
“He was such a great all-around player he will be hard to replace,” Gower said.
Crisp, a senior team captain, attracted recognition around the region partly because he was the Horns’ leading scorer with 12 goals.
As a captain, “he stepped up to voice his opinion throughout games, practices and bus trips,” Gower said.
“He will be missed.”
Williams began his prep career as a defense man but Gower was able to move him this season to midfield, where he could use his speed and endurance.
“Derek is a great kid who plays the game without crying to refs, yelling at other players and blaming coaches,” Gower said.
“Derek puts the team first.”
During the campaign, the Longhorns remained in contention for a state tournament berth until a regular season 4-1 loss to Holbrook eliminated PHS (10-9-1) from the postseason playoffs.
The defeat also continued a four-game losing streak that plagued Payson at the end of the season.
With a 3-4 East record, the Longhorns had to settle for fifth place in the eight-team region.