By Ray Hamill — In part III of our three-part look back at the high school sports year, we close out our annual prep awards with our Boys Athlete of the Year, our boys and girls Team of the Year and our Sports School of the Year.
We also name our girls and boys Player of the Year, and a couple of other special awards.
It should be noted that only multiple-sport standouts were considered for our athlete of the year awards, and all honors are based only on the sports that were played this year.
For more on our end of year awards, check out Prep athletes of the year and other awards, Part I and Part II
Player of the Year (Girls)
Del Norte, Junior
This is an award for a player who arguably had a bigger impact on his or her team than anyone else in the H-DNL this past year.
Although just a junior, Clifton was simply unstoppable all winter on the basketball court for the Del Norte girls.
The Warriors standout guard was continually double-teamed but still averaged a double-double on her way to being named co-MVP of the Big 5.
Fortuna’s Charlotte Carroll (basketball), St. Bernard’s Saulele Tanuvasa (basketball and volleyball) and Arcata’s Zakiya Elloway (soccer), Skaidra Pulley (soccer) and Maya Mircetich (volleyball) are all honorable mentions in this category.
Co-Player of the Year (Boys)
St. Bernard’s, Senior
St. Bernard’s, Senior
It’s difficult to separate these two after they each played a key role in leading the Crusaders to a state championship in football, one leading the way on offense, and the other on defense.
Quarterback Omey was the team’s inspirational leader on offense, leading the NCS in total offensive yards for the second straight year, while Hagler was every bit as influential at linebacker, where he was named Big 4 co-Defensive MVP.
Their teammate Lane Thrap gets an honorable mention in this category, along with Del Norte’s Anthony Slayton (football and basketball), Jared Castro (soccer), Scott Peters (soccer) and Omar Banuelos (basketball), and Ferndale’s Landon Gomes (football).
TEAM OF THE YEAR (Girls)
There were, of course, several worthy candidates for our girls team of the year honors, but none of them made quite as emphatic a statement as the Fortuna girls did in basketball
The Huskies won a first Big 5 title since the early 1980s and they did it with a huge improvement from a year ago.
Head coach Scott Betts deserves a lot of credit for the difference he made, with several players responding well to the new coach.
The Huskies featured numerous stars, none more so than senior post player and co-Big 5 MVP Charlotte Carroll.
2 — Eureka Wrestling
3 — Arcata Cross Country
4 — Fortuna Soccer
5 — Arcata Volleyball
Honorable Mentions — St. Bernard’s Soccer, Arcata Tennis and Arcata Golf
TEAM OF THE YEAR (Boys)
Del Norte Football
The Warriors captivated their fans more than any other team this year, winning a first-ever NCS championship for the program and hosting a first-ever state championship game.
It was a season Del Norte will not easily forget and one that has set the standard for the future of the program.
Blessed with an abundance of tremendously talented seniors and a coaching staff second to none, the Warriors are our choice for team of the year.
2 — St. Bernard’s Football
3 — Del Norte Basketball
4 — Fortuna Soccer
5 — Del Norte Wrestling
Honorable Mentions — Eureka Cross Country, Ferndale Basketball, Ferndale Football
Sports School of the Year
No local school can lay claim to the overall success of St. Bernard’s, and that earns the Crusaders our School of the Year award.
Both Del Norte and Fortuna had years for the ages too, with the Warriors winning league titles in football, boys basketball and boys wrestling, and the Huskies ending decades-old droughts with league crowns in girls soccer and basketball, as well as adding a seventh straight league title in boys soccer.
Both the Warriors and Huskies also tasted NCS success, with Fortuna winning in boys soccer and Del Norte in football.
But neither of those schools can match the sheer volume of success the Crusaders enjoyed.
In addition to league titles in volleyball, and boys and girls basketball, St. Bernard’s also laid claim to NCS championships in both girls soccer and football, as well as the only local state championship of the year locally in any sport.
Of the six full teams the Crusaders fielded in 2019/20, five won a championship of some type, and that makes them our choice for Sports School of the Year.
Special Mention Award
It was a special year for Fortuna girls sports, with the school’s soccer team winning a first-ever league title in its 25th year of competing, and the basketball team winning a first Big 5 crown in almost 40 years.
Senior Moncerrat Bernal was the only player to play on both history-making teams and as such deserves a special mention.
Bernal not only played on both teams, but was a key contributor on each.
Their season may have been cut short, but Hoopa baseball gets the nod for the program that officially posted the biggest turnaround this year, going from winless to undefeated in just 12 months.
Admittedly the Warriors only played one game in 2020, but head coach John Snell and his players did get their first win since April 2018 and that’s noteworthy.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (Boys)
St. Bernard’s, Senior
Thrap had a year for the ages and will be remembered at St. Bernard’s for his remarkable contributions in three sports.
His final baseball season unfortunately never happened, but in football he was simply phenomenal at receiver, where he led the entire NCS, and in basketball he was a worthy Little 4 MVP.
Thrap will play football at Santa Rosa JC in the fall.
All of the athletes considered in this category are multiple-sport stars.
2 — Anthony Slayton, Del Norte. An MVP in football and all-league selection in basketball.
3T — Will Omey, St. Bernard’s. First-team all-league in football and basketball
3T — Trevor Bell, Eureka. First-team all-league in football and basketball.
5 — Miles Meynell, Eureka. A force in both football and basketball despite an injury-plagued year.
Honorable Mentions — Kobe Mitchell (Del Norte), Jenner Christiansen (Ferndale), Jaeden Thayer (Eureka), Jack Baca (Arcata), John Smith and Carlos Aguilar (Hoopa), and Alex Harding (South Fork)
And finally, the most important award of all …
The Effervescence Award
Eureka Girls Basketball
In addition to their thrilling Dick Niclai championship win, the Loggers were just a lot of fun to watch play all season long.
Their effervescent bench sets the standard for all benches in the H-DNL, and no local team appeared to have more fun in 2019/20.
And that’s good enough to earn them Humboldt Sports’ most prestigious award of all, The Effervescence Award.