Jourdan Soares makes a catch during Severance Bowl on Nov.

Gilroy High wide receiver Jourdan Soares was named the Tri-County Athletic League Most Valuable Player for the 2011 season and leads a list of eight Mustangs chosen for all-league awards.

Soares led the league in all receiving categories, including receptions (76), yards (1,477) and touchdowns (15). The yardage total is the eighth most in the state. The 6-foot-2 senior also locked up his third consecutive first-team all-league bid, his second consecutive as a receiver.

“In my 20 years around Gilroy High football, Jourdan is probably the best athlete, as far as football goes, to come through,” GHS head coach Steven Lo said. “We had some trials and tribulations together this season, but he grew this year and he definitely deserves this award.” 

Two seasons ago, Soares was named co-Sophomore of the Year and a first-team cornerback.

Despite being the main target of every defensive backfield he came across, Soares was held under 100 yards receiving just four times. His speed and leaping ability often led to acrobatic catches in the end zone and contributed to three games of more than 200 yards, including a season-high 222 yards on 10 catches against Leland. 

He also had totals of 220, 217, 176, 141 and 197 in averaging 147 yards per game.

“He has finally figured out the things he needs to do and the attitude he needs to take if he wants to step up to the next level,” Lo said. “Is he perfect? No. But he is going in the right direction.”

Throwing the ball out there for Soares was senior quarterback Niko Fortino, who joined his favorite receiver on the first-team all-league list.

Fortino had plenty of bulls-eyes to choose from in 2011 and completed passes at a 62 percent clip in amassing 3,114 yards – good for the eighth best in California – and 31 touchdowns.

“Niko is one of my favorite success stories on varsity this year. For essentially being written off after his junior to a first-team all-league selection is awesome,” Lo said. “I’m happy for the kid.”

Aside from Soares, Fortino found fancy in two other receivers, Brenden Holler (26 catches, 445 yards four TDs) and Christian Goldstein (34 catches, 403 yards and six TDs.) Both were named to the second-team list. As were two of Fortino’s protectors on the offensive line, Alfredo Mireles and Jose Lara.

Also earning a second-team selection was sophomore Brandon Boyd, who became the Mustangs’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006. Boyd gained 1,128 yards and scored seven touchdowns and added 19 receptions for 222 yards another two scores. For his efforts, Boyd was selected as the TCAL’s co-Sophomore of the Year.

“A lot of the other coaches in the league couldn’t believe it when I nominated him for the award. They had no idea he was only a sophomore,” Lo said. “I’m glad we have Brandon for the next couple of years.”

The Mustangs had one all-league honoree on defense in Jose Betancourt, who was awarded a second-team nod.

TCAL MVP: Jourdan Soares – Gilroy

TCAL MVP Offense: Jack Myers – Palma

TCAL MVP Defense: Jon Huaracha – San Benito

Most Outstanding offensive lineman – Zack Szyndrowski – San Benito

Most Outstanding defensive lineman – Jack Powers – Palma

Utility Player of the Year: Raymond Cerda – Salinas

Co-Sophomore of the Year: Brandon Boyd – Gilroy, Josh George – San Benito.

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