4 Hor­nets tabbed All-state

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Tony Le­na­han tle­na­[email protected]­ton­courier.com

BRYANT – Af­ter a record-break­ing sea­son in which the Bryant Hor­nets went 16-3-2 over­all, won the 6A Cen­tral Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship and made their first-ever state tour­na­ment ti­tle game (3-0 loss to Spring­dale), four Hor­nets earned All-state honors while eight oth­ers picked up 6A Cen­tral All­con­fer­ence nods.

Se­niors Luis Lara, Henry Terry and Martin Ramirez, and ju­nior Bran­don Del­gadillo all took home All-state honors, while Lara, se­nior Thomas Bulling­ton and ju­nior goal­keeper Codi Kirby were named to the All-state Tour­na­ment team.

Del­gadillo led the Hor­nets with nine goals on the sea­son af­ter start­ing the year in a dif­fer­ent spot.

“I moved him into a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion to give him more of­fen­sive abil­i­ties and a free­dom to play with less de­fen­sive re­spon­si­bil­ity,” Bryant Head Coach Rick Fri­day said. “I pushed him off on the right side where he could come with his left foot and score. When you look at his goals, those were his goals at­tack­ing from the right side across the field with a good shot with his left foot. I think that suited him well be­cause he played to the things he does well, which is go at­tack.”

Lara had five goals and tied for the team lead with five as­sists.

“He brought his calm­ness and his com­po­sure

to the the mid­dle of the field,” Fri­day said of Lara. “Martin (Ramirez) and Brian (Ibarra) kind of sat back in the front of the de­fense to help break up the op­po­nents’ at­tack. That al­lowed Luis a lit­tle bit of free­dom to run and play and dic­tate the game.”

Terry also had five goals and five as­sists for the Hor­nets.

“He was a work­horse up front,” Fri­day said of Terry. “He re­ally did the job. He said ear­lier, ‘I’m not scor­ing.’ I told him scor­ing goals is a bonus for us for what you do. Your job is to win the ball up front and hold it for us. Once he re­al­ized that role, it kind of helped him out a lit­tle bit.”

Ramirez held the de­fen­sive line for the Hor­nets while also adding two goals and two as­sists.

“To­wards the end, he got a lit­tle more of­fen­sive­minded, which was good,” Fri­day said. “At the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, it was a new role for him. It’s go­ing to be hard to re­place that phys­i­cal pres­ence in the mid­dle of the field. He’s a big body and was hard to get off the ball.”

Earn­ing First-team All-con­fer­ence honors was Bulling­ton (one goal, AAA All-star), se­nior Christo­pher Fuller (two goals, two as­sists, AAA All-star), se­nior Danny Linares (one goal, four as­sists) and the ju­nior Ibarra (one goal).

Tak­ing Sec­ond-team All-con­fer­ence was Kirby (57 saves, five shutouts), ju­nior Car­los Gay­tan (one goal, three as­sists), ju­nior Jonathan Giron (four goals, one as­sist) and sopho­more Grant Jacuzzi (six goals, two as­sists).

Though the Hor­nets, which were 13-1 for the Cen­tral ti­tle, scored more goals last year, they simply didn’t need as many this past sea­son as Bryant’s stingy de­fense kept op­po­nents at bay. The Hor­nets led the Cen­tral in goals against with 10 in con­fer­ence (four bet­ter than sec­ond place North­side), while scor­ing 39, and gave up just 19 goals all sea­son in their 21 games.

“We’re de­fen­sive­minded,” Fri­day said. “It was some­thing we re­ally em­pha­sized. Last year we scored a lot of goals, but we al­lowed a lot, too. It didn’t al­low us to ex­cel in games at times. One of the goals was we needed to drop the goals-against av­er­age at least below 1.0. This year we av­er­aged 0.85 goals against a game. If you don’t give up goals, it’s hard to lose a game.”

No doubt im­proved de­fense was no se­cret to the Hor­nets’ success this past year, but com­mit­ment and unity were also nice ad­di­tions from last year’s 12-8-3 sea­son for a fourth­place con­fer­ence finish.

“I told the boys if you come in com­mit­ted and you work hard, I guarantee you within three years we can make the state cham­pi­onship, and we did,” Fri­day said. “The kids worked hard. They worked harder than any other pro­gram in the state. There were times we did two ses­sions a day.

“They were ded­i­cated, they were com­mit­ted. I think the dif­fer­ence in this sea­son and last year’s team was there was more unity and har­mony. Last year we had all the tal­ent, but it was re­ally heavy se­nior­laden and try­ing to make the kids happy prob­a­bly brought the team down a lit­tle bit. I don’t think the com­mit­ment was there last year, but this year it was there. The kids did well. The last three years we have grown as a pro­gram to where we can re­pro­duce it. Hope­fully we’re build­ing some­thing that can be con­tin­u­ous year af­ter year af­ter year.”

TONY LE­NA­HAN/THE Sa­line Courier TONY LE­NA­HAN/THE Sa­line Courier

Bryant ju­nior Bran­don Del­gadillo, 16, com­petes in the 6A State Tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship game at Ra­zor­back Field in Fayet­teville last month. Del­gadillo led the Hor­nets in goals, earn­ing All-state honors. Bryant se­nior Martin Ramirez, 99, com­petes in the 6A State Tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship game at Ra­zor­back Field in Fayet­teville last month. Ramirez is one of four Hor­nets get­ting All-state honors af­ter a 16-3-2 sea­son.

TONY LE­NA­HAN/THE Sa­line Courier

Bryant se­nior Henry Terry, 2, com­petes in the 6A State Tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship game last month. Terry earned All-state honors.

TONY LE­NA­HAN/THE Sa­line Courier

Bryant se­nior Luis Lara com­petes in the 6A State Tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship game last month. Lara earned All-state honors.

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