2019-20 athletes & coaches of the year, All-County teams, Outstanding Seniors

A look back at the OCVarsity award winners for the 2019-20 high school sports season.

Athletes and coaches of the year and All-County teams were selected for the fall and winter sports. For the spring sports, which had their season cut short by COVID-19, the Register chose an Outstanding Senior for each sport.

OCVarsity 2020 Athletes & Coaches of the Year page

FALL SPORTS

FOOTBALL

Offensive Player of the Year: Bryce Young, Mater Dei

Defensive Player of the Year: Clark Phillips III, La Habra

Coach of the Year: Nick Karavedas, Sunny Hills

All-County team: First Team Offense

All-County team: First Team Defense

All-County teams: Second Team and Third Team

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Player of the Year: Mia Tuaniga, Mater Dei

Coach of the Year: Isaac Owens, Esperanza

All-County team

BOYS CROSS COUNTY

Runner of the Year: Anthony Grover, JSerra

Coach of the Year: Craig Dunn, Dana Hills

All-County team

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY

Runner of the Year: Carly Corsinita, Capistrano Valley

Coach of the Year: Ken Chai, El Toro

All-County team

GIRLS GOLF

Golfer of the Year: Sherilyn Villaneuva, Troy

Coach of the Year: Bruce Loman, Sage Hill

All-County team

GIRLS TENNIS

Player of the Year: Kaytlin Taylor, Huntington Beach

Coach of the Year: Natasha Schottland, Portola

All-County team

BOYS WATER POLO

Player of the Year: Tanner Pulice, Corona del Mar

Coach of the Year: Logan Powell, San Clemente

All-County team

 

WINTER SPORTS

BOYS BASKETBALL

Player of the Year: Devin Askew, Mater Dei

Coach of the Year: D’Cean Bryant, Fountain Valley

All-County team

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Player of the Year: Asia Avinger, Rosary

Coach of the Year: Jimmy Valverde, Esperanza

All-County team

BOYS SOCCER

Player of the Year: Uriel Sanchez, Servite

Coach of the Year: Jon Spencer, Servite

All-County team

GIRLS SOCCER

Player of the Year: Samantha Williams, JSerra

Coach of the Year: Pat Rossi, Los Alamitos

All-County team

GIRLS WATER POLO

Player of the Year: Emma Lineback, Laguna Beach

Coach of the Year: Rory Bevins, Rosary

All-County team

BOYS WRESTLING

Wrestler of the Year: Aaron Nagao, Esperanza

Coach of the Year: Dane Valdez, Calvary Chapel

All-County team

GIRLS WRESTLING

Wrestler of the Year: Aine Drury, Westminster

All-County team

 

SPRING SPORTS

Outstanding Seniors

Baseball: Jonny Long, Orange

Softball: Madi Simon, Beckman

Boys Swimming: Ryan Abdollahi, Dana Hills

Girls Swimming: Ella Ristic,  Santa Margarita

Boys Track & Field: Isaac Korn, Trabuco Hills

Girls Track & Field: Sophia Hartwell, Orange Lutheran

Boys Volleyball: Niko Colburn, Huntington Beach

Boys Tennis: Jake Huarte, Mater Dei

Boys Golf: Taehoon Song, Anaheim Discovery Christian

Boys Lacrosse: Andrew Cumming, Foothill

Girls Lacrosse: Ashley Stokes, Foothill

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OCVarsity 2020 Athletes of the Year special section

The Register wraps up a year of excellence in high school sports by selecting the Orange County Athletes of the Year.

The honorees are featured in a special section that includes lists of all of the athletes and coaches who received OCVarsity honors in 2019-20. The section is included in Sunday’s edition of the Register.

There is also an interactive online version of the section that can be found here.

A link to our page for the 2020 OCVaristy Athlete & Coach Awards.

This year, because of COVID-19, the Register couldn’t host its annual banquet for all of the year’s award winners, but the OCVarsity staff congratulates the honorees, including Rosary’s Asia Avinger, who received the Trinity League Athlete of the Year award from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.

 

To read the individual stories, click on the athlete names below.

Male Athlete of the Year

Bryce Young, Mater Dei


Mater Dei High quarterback Bryce Young announced his commitment to attend Alabama on social media on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

 

Female Athlete of the Year

Asia Avinger, Rosary


Rosary’s Asia Avinger is one of the Orange County Register’s 2020 Athletes of the Year. The San Clemente High School athlete committed to play basketball at San Diego State. Photographed in Anaheim, CA on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

 

Male Outstanding Competitor

Lance Keneley, Mission Viejo


Mission Viejo High School’s Lance Keneley is one of the Orange County Register’s 2020 Athletes of the Year. Keneley has committed to play football at Stanford. Photographed in Anaheim, CA on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Female Outstanding Competitor

Ella Gardiner, San Clemente


San Clemente athlete Ella Gardiner is one of the Orange County Register’s 2020 Athletes of the Year. Gardiner excelled in basketball and volleyball.  Photographed in Anaheim, CA on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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Sunny Hills athletic director Jon Caffrey accepts new ‘challenge’ as assistant principal at Fullerton


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The diverse high school athletics career of Jon Caffrey has made another turn.

Sunny Hills’ successful athletic director and former football coach has left the Freeway League school and accepted an assistant principal post at nearby Fullerton, he confirmed Thursday.

Caffrey, 48, will oversee athletics, ASB and discipline at Fullerton.

“It’s always difficult to leave something that’s been home,” he said of Sunny Hills. “But I’m excited for this new challenge.”

As Sunny Hills’ athletic director the past six years, Caffrey replaced the legendary Ralph Trigsted and guided some of the best coaches in Orange County.

Six of Caffrey’s coaches earned Orange County Register coach of the year honors. They were: Pete Karavedas (football), Jae Byun (girls basketball), Keith Nighswonger (girls water polo), Arlie Kearney (baseball), Mike Schade (boys soccer) and Jeff Gordon (girls soccer).

Sunny Hills also won multiple CIF-SS titles and one CIF State SoCal crown during Caffrey’s tenure.

This past season, the Lancers’ football team captured its first section title since 1992. The boys and girls soccer teams have also claimed titles in recent years.

Byun led the girls basketball team to the SoCal regional title and a trip to the state championships three seasons ago.

“He has done an amazing job at Sunny Hills,” Karavedas said of Caffrey, who also coached softball for two years at the school.

Interestingly, Caffrey coached Karavedas (Calvary Chapel/Downey) and Byun (Sunny Hills) in high school and then mentored them into top coaches.

Caffrey arrived at Sunny Hills in 2009 to coach football. He previously coached football at Whittier Christian, the program his father Tom led to three section championships.

Sunny Hills has not announced a new athletic director.

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Orange County athletes speak out on social media against racism in wake of George Floyd death


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  • Mater Dei’s Devin Askew is the Orange County boys basketball player of the year for the 2019-20 season. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Twin brothers Cassius, left, and Caine Savage on the football field at Western High School in Anaheim on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. The brothers signed letters of intent with San Diego State and Utah. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • Pitcher, Kylee Magee of Canyon is named to the 2019 Orange County All-County softball team. Magee is shown in Irvine on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei Monarchs wide receiver Kyron Ware-Hudson (10) points to the sky after making a catch in the end zone for a touchdown against the St. John Bosco Braves during the first half of the 2019 CIF Southern Section Division 1 High School Football Championship game at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif. on Saturday November 30, 2019. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

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Protests at community parks, in front of government buildings and on city streets aren’t the only places in Southern California that young people are expressing their feelings about the death of George Floyd, racism and equality in America.

Some of Orange County’s most well-known high school athletes have made their voices heard on social media since the unarmed Floyd died in Minneapolis at the hands of police on May 25.

Rosary point guard Asia Avinger, The Register’s player of the year in girls basketball for 2019-20, has been among the most vocal on her Instagram account.

The San Diego State signee recently shared with her more than 10,000 followers a video of a young girl tearful saying, “I could die from the color of my skin.”

“There is so much hate in the world that we live in and it’s so horrific that even children are starting to understand how cruel the real world is,” Avinger wrote on the post that included the hashtag BLACKLIVESMATTER.

“There is so much hurt, pain and anger that we are feeling due to discrimination and racism.

“It shouldn’t matter the color of our skin, we should be treated with respect and equality. … We need CHANGE and I pray everyday that things get better.”

Mater Dei point guard Devin Askew, The Register’s boys basketball player of the year this past season, posted a photo this week that looked like himself in a shirt that read, “I Can’t Breathe”, a rallying crying at many protests for Floyd.

Floyd’s death, while in police custody, has sparked nationwide unrest.

“We are all equal!” the Kentucky-bound Askew wrote to his more than 78,000 followers on Instagram. “We are one! Together we fight for what is right.”

Western All-County wide receiver/cornerback Caine Savage also encouraged unity in a post on Instagram on Wednesday.

“We are BLACK MEN! We build. We don’t tear down other BLACK MEN!” the Utah signee wrote to his more than 3,000 followers. “All too often, we men find it easier to criticize each other instead of building each other up. With all the negativity going around, let’s do something positive!”

Canyon All-County softball pitcher Kylee Magee shared on her Instagram stories a quote from UCLA softball’s Aaliyah Jordan posted to the Pac-12 Conference social media account.

“My blackness is not a joke and not something that will be ignored. If you can’t see that then there’s a problem,” the quote read.

Numerous Orange County athletes, including New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (San Clemente), posted black screens to their Instagram accounts Tuesday as part of #BlackOutTuesday, a social media trend and sign of solidarity against police brutality against African Americans.

Mater Dei wide receiver and Oregon commit Kyron Ware-Hudson posted a video to his Instagram stories of a peaceful protest in front of police and a quote from Colorado Rockies baseball player Ian Desmond.

“When you can’t say, ‘Black Lives Matter’ … To me, that’s you saying my life doesn’t matter. That’s what I hear and I can’t change that,” the quote from Desmond read.

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Tustin girls basketball coach Claire Gocke designs own play to honor graduating seniors


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Coach Claire Gocke designed numerous plays in guiding Tustin’s girls basketball team to the outright Empire League title in the winter.

Now, she has called perhaps the most important play for her graduating seniors.

Gocke will host Ahzira Faletoi, Lisbeth Cabrera, Savannah Thorn and Kylie Pulsifer, along with the Tillers’ game announcer and school principal, outside her house on Tuesday, May 26 to celebrate the players’ original graduation date.

The eighth-year coach will be following social distancing rules and also call upon teammates and families to line her street in support of the graduates.

Think of it as one coach’s plan to counter the coronavirus pandemic, which has delayed and drastically altered graduation ceremonies across the nation for the class of 2020.

“This is just a tricky time and it’s affecting everyone in a number of different ways so I wanted to make their graduation something memorable and not just another day in quarantine,” Gocke said.

The coach has arranged for veteran Tustin basketball announcer Keith Martyn to call the player’s name and Principal Jon Tuin to attend the event.

She also is planning for pictures of the players in their caps and gowns with their diplomas and showing senior reflections on a projector.

Tustin’s graduation has been pushed back to August 5-6 because of the coronavirus but Gocke drew up another play for her senior.

“It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate all their accomplishments and accolades at Tustin as they move onto the next chapter of their lives,” she said.

Faletoi (Golden West College), Cabrera (Chapman), Thorn (UCLA) and Pulsifer (Orange Coast College) are each headed to college after graduation.

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Coaches: Send OCVarsity your winter all-league teams

OCVarsity is asking the Orange County coaches and athletic directors to email their winter all-league teams to preps@ocregister.com.

Please email complete lists by Monday, March 23 and include the words ALL-LEAGUE TEAM in the email header. We’ll begin publishing the all-league teams on Tuesday, March 24.

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Rosary supports naming co-state champions after coronavirus cancels basketball finals

Rosary’s girls basketball team didn’t play Friday night for the state championship that it pursued with all its might.

The coronavirus snatched that dream from a proud, defending champion.

But in the wake of the state finals in Sacramento being canceled, the question about how to honor teams such as Rosary quickly surfaced.

One idea raised was naming Rosary and its scheduled opponent — Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland — as co-state champions for CIF State Division 1.

The schools, the argument goes, won their respective regional tournament titles over a two-week period and were stopped one game short of completing the trek by an unprecedented medical crisis.

The teams weren’t grounded by coronavirus before the tournament started. They played, practiced and sacrificed nearly to the end of their postseason assignments. Rosary was just a few hours away from catching a flight to Northern California when the tournament was called off.

“It’s the only thing that makes sense to me,” Rosary athletic director Tom Tice said of naming the schools co-state champions. “Stopping this tournament one game short just deprived them of that opportunity (to win state). I can’t think of anyone who would be upset at all of these teams being named co-champions.”

But in the record book for the 2019-20 basketball season, there will be no co-state champions listed, the CIF State office said. The crowns will be left vacant.

Rosary will be left unfulfilled.

“It’s going to be hard to let this one go because it was my last year,” Rosary senior guard Caylee Santos said. “(Thursday) was a tough one for all of us. … I’m going to miss this team very much next year. They were my sisters and second family.”

And to Rosary coach Richard Yoon, they were at the very least, co-state champions.

“It’s not as good as playing the game but if it’s truly about the student-athletes, I think both teams should be honored for their accomplishments,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do based on the situation.”

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Orange Lutheran girls basketball coach Tom Howard resigns after 11 seasons, four CIF titles

Orange Lutheran girls basketball coach Tom Howard, who carried on the legacy of his late friend and led the Lancers to four CIF-SS championships, has resigned after 11 seasons, the Trinity League school announced Thursday.

Howard served as the longtime assistant to Tony Matson before the Orange Lutheran girls coach died of a sudden heart attack after the 2008-09 season.

Howard’s most recent title came in 2019 with an inspiring run to the Division 2-AA crown.

The Lancers stormed to the title after finishing last in the tough Trinity League and bonding as a team that didn’t feature a future collegiate player. They upset Rolling Hills Prep 51-50 in the final, improving Howard’s record in the finals to 4-0.

“It’s been a true joy and honor to be a coach in the girls basketball program for the past 22 years,” said Howard, known for his strong command of the fundamentals.

“Although those years have brought me tremendous joy and pride, the unfortunate reality is that those years have taken a collective toll on me. …The bottom line is that I just don’t have anything left in the tank to continue in this role, and the girls deserve way better.”

Orange Lutheran advanced to the playoffs all 11 seasons under Howard, winning section titles in 2011 (Division 3A), 2015 (Division 3A) and 2016 (Division 3AA).

He was The Register’s coach of the year in 2015.

With an inexperienced squad this past season, the Lancers went 14-14 and lost to Rolling Hills Prep in a difficult, first-round matchup in the Division 1 playoffs.

Howard won 234 games in a post that he took to carry on Matson’s legacy and help his alma mater through a challenging time.

“(I) would have been (Matson’s) assistant indefinitely,” Howard said. “Those first few season (as head coach) were really tough. I felt everything, the highs and lows, to a greater degree than normal. … Those experiences aged me from a coaching perspective quicker than normal.”

 

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Preview and prediction for Rosary vs. Cathedral Catholic in Tuesday’s girls basketball regional final


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Preview and prediction for Tuesday’s CIF State Southern California Regional final:

DIVISION 1

ROSARY (22-12) VS. CATHEDRAL CATHOLIC OF SAN DIEGO (21-11)

Where, when: Cathedral Catholic High, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Outlook: It’s a clash of styles for a trip to the state championship game Friday at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center at 6 p.m.

The guard-dominated, No. 2 seeded Royals and their dynamic trio of Asia Avinger, Nicole Rodriguez and Kaylee Byon meet the top-seeded Dons and 6-foot-4 sophomore Isuneh “Ice” Brady. The San Diego State-bound Avinger and sophomore Byon excel at penetrating while the Loyola Marymount-bound Rodriguez is a sharp-shooter from beyond the arc. Byon also is a dangerous 3-point shooter as is senior guard Caylee Santos.

Avinger has improved her outside shooting and is capable of catching fire as well. The Connecticut-committed Brady scored 23 points in Cathedral Catholic’s 61-48 victory against the Rosary at the Troy Classic on Dec. 6. But Rosary played without 6-foot center Bryn Boznanski, its tallest player.

But the left-handed Brady is a matchup nightmare because she can shoot the 3-pointer and attack the basket. She averages about 20 points and 13 rebounds. She scored 16 points in a showdown with Harvard-Westlake junior center Kiki Iriafen in the regional semifinals.

Mazatlan Harris, a 6-foot-2 center, is Cathedral’s second-leading scorer with an average of about 11 points. But don’t dismiss Rosary because of its size.

“Rosary is under-rated in how physical they are,” said Orangewood Academy coach Leslie Aragon. “Avinger and Rodriguez are tough as nails.”

There are a few other factors to consider.

“Cathedral’s supporting cast is playing better,” said Aragon, whose team lost to the Dons 63-47 in the second round of regionals. “The last two games, that’s the reason they have won.”

Rosary’s big-game experience under coach Richard Yoon in another factor. Rosary is the defending Division 1 state champion and also won a Division 3 state title in 2017.

“Yoon knows how to coach state,” Aragon said.

Cathedral Catholic is seeking its first trip to the state finals. The Dons should be supported by a large, home crowd. They are hosting a doubleheader with the Open Division regional final between La Jolla Country Day and Windward at 5 p.m.

Rosary shouldn’t be spooked because it played such a challenging schedule. But so did Cathedral Catholic. The Royals and Dons each played the toughest schedules in their respective divisions, according to MaxPreps.

The winner takes on Salesian College Prep or Bishop O’Dowd, seeded first and second in the NorCal regional, in the finals.

Prediction: Rosary

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Preview and prediction for Tuesday’s regional girls basketball game between Rosary, Cathedral Catholic


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Preview and prediction for Tuesday’s CIF State Southern California Regional final:

DIVISION 1

ROSARY (22-12) VS. CATHEDRAL CATHOLIC OF SAN DIEGO (21-11)

Where, when: Cathedral Catholic High, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Outlook: It’s a clash of styles for a trip to the state championship game Friday at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center at 6 p.m. The guard-dominated, No. 2 seeded Royals and their dynamic trio of Asia Avinger, Nicole Rodriguez and Kaylee Byon meet the top-seeded Dons and 6-foot-4 sophomore Isuneh “Ice” Brady. The San Diego State-bound Avinger and sophomore Byon excel at penetrating while the Loyola Marymount-bound Rodriguez is a sharp-shooter from beyond the arc. Byon also is a dangerous 3-point shooter as is senior guard Caylee Santos. Avinger has improved her outside shooting and capable of catching fire as well. The Connecticut-committed Brady scored 23 points in Cathedral Catholic’s 61-48 victory against the Rosary at the Troy Classic on Dec. 6. But Rosary played without 6-foot center Bryn Boznanski, their tallest player. But the left-handed Brady is a matchup nightmare because she can shoot the 3-pointer and attack the basket. She averages about 20 points and 13 rebounds. She scored 16 points in a showdown with Harvard-Westlake junior center Kiki Iriafen in the regional semifinals. Mazatlan Harris, a 6-foot-2 center, is Cathedral’s second-leading scorer with an average of about 11 points. But don’t dismiss Rosary because of its size. “Rosary is under-rated in how physical they are,” said Orangewood Academy coach Leslie Aragon. “Avinger and Rodriguez are tough as nails.”

There are a few other factors to consider. “Cathedral’s supporting cast is playing better,” said Aragon, whose team lost to the Dons 63-47 in the second round of regionals. “The last two games, that’s the reason they have won.” Rosary’s big-game experience under coach Richard Yoon in another factor. Rosary is the defending Division 1 state champion and also won a Division 3 state title in 2017. “Yoon knows how to coach state,” Aragon said. Cathedral Catholic is seeking its first trip to the state finals. The Dons should be supported by a large, home crowd. They are hosting a doubleheader with the Open Division regional final between La Jolla Country Day and Windward at 5 p.m. Rosary shouldn’t be spooked because it played such a challenging schedule. But so did Cathedral Catholic. The Royals and Dons each played the toughest schedules in their respective divisions, according to MaxPreps.

The winner takes on either Salesian College Prep or Bishop O’Dowd, seeded first and second in the NorCal regional, in the finals.

Prediction: Rosary

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