There are a lot of similarities between this year’s Arizona Republic girls’ and boys’ Big Schools Players of the Year.
Both are seniors who play the forward position.
Both attend Catholic high schools in Phoenix – and both led their schools to a state Division I championship.
And both are prolific scorers.
For Michaela Dooley at Xavier Prep, this is her first Player of the Year honor. And that marks the departure from the similarities.
Riggs Lennon, the boys’ Player of the Year from Brophy Prep, has now won the award three straight years. Lennon, who scored 35 goals as a sophomore to win his first award, has increased his output each year and accumulated 59 goals in the 25 matches this season.
Although he was held scoreless in one game, he generally scored in bunches. He had 13 games with three or more scores and put up seven twice and six twice.
Dooley recorded 25 goals, but also added 10 assists as she worked all season long to share the scoring opportunities with her teammates. But she stepped up to lead the scoring out of necessity, as the Gators were riddled this year with injuries and transfers.
One last similarity: both will be attending college on athletic scholarships, Lennon at the University of Virginia and Dooley at the University of San Diego.
And the southern side of the state was represented this year in the Small School Player of the Year announcements. Jasmine Stokes scored 51 goals this season for Palo Verde High School in Tucson – the exact same number she posted last year as a junior. She closed out her high school career with a total of 137 goals, which broke the old school record by 30 goals!
That’s one reason Stokes, who plays multiple positions on the field, has been snapped up by Cal Baptist, which just won its second straight National Christian College Athletic Association national championship.
On the boys’ side, this year’s Small Schools Player of the Year honor goes to Roberto Valenzuela at Cortez High School in west Phoenix. Despite being sidelined part of the season with an ankle injury, the senior forward found the net 26 times to lead all scorers on the Colts’ team. He will play next year at Phoenix College.
The All-Arizona Team selections:
Four schools dominated the girls’ All-Arizona squad, as each placed two players on this year’s team: Xavier Prep (Dooley and Kellie Peay), Pinnacle High (Jorian Baucom, Missy Kettelkamp), Highland High (Ashley Hatch, Jaden DeGracie), and Desert Vista High (Rachel Ressler, Hannah Stevens). Three more rounded out the team: Cassie Miller from Cactus Shadows High, Emily Parker from Catalina Foothills High, and Kyle Escobedo from Boulder Creek High.
On the boys’ team, three schools had multiple representatives: Brophy Prep (Lennon and Clarence Clark), Desert Vista High (Tim O’Brien, Danny Gavin), and Salpointe Catholic (Arturo Vega, Gavino Carranza). The remaining selections: Mario Soto from Tolleson High, Luis Manta from Hamilton High, Raul Ordorica from San Luis High, Sam Gleadle from Campo Verde High, and Mason Robertson from Pinnacle High.