Prep2Prep 2019 NCS Football Honors
St. Helena's Ivan Robledo is our choice as NCS Sophomore of the Year. Jamond Williams/Napa Valley Register

NCS Sophomore of the Year

A mid-season call-up as a freshman, Ivan Robledo had high expectations heading into his sophomore season. But even those lofty goals which were set before the year did not measure up to his actual production, as Robledo tore through opposing defenses to lead St. Helena to a nine-win campaign and a berth in the section semifinals.

“We felt like we had a pretty good opportunity to have a good running game, so our expectations were high, but we ended up being real happy with our offensive line and the production we got from that unit,” said St. Helena coach Brandon Farrell. “Then Ivan grew a lot from last year, had a real good track season in the spring, and all of that showed from the season opener.”

While most running backs use the number of 100-yard games as a measurement tool, Robledo took that a step further, going over the 200-yard mark on six different occasions during the 2019 season and setting a new single-game school record on three different nights. And late in the season, when the Saints badly needed a big game from their workhorse, he most certainly delivered.

“I was actually not very optimistic about this year, before the season, because of the lack of numbers we had on our roster,” Robledo said. “But I was proven wrong because it doesn’t matter how many players you have, but rather the amount of effort and commitment each player puts in. We fought hard to get to where we were, and I’m very proud of my team.”

Where that was at the end of the season was needing a win over Lower Lake to secure a top-four seed in the Division 7 playoffs. Earlier in the year, Robledo had broken the school’s single-game rushing record with a 284-yard, six-touchdown performance in a 47-14 win over Clear Lake. A week later, he broke his own record when he ran for 291 yards and three scores in a gut-wrenching 30-28 loss to Willits. Both of those performances, however, gave way to his regular-season finale.

Against a Lower Lake team which had already won seven games and was in second place of the NCL, Robledo broke free time and time again out of the Saints’ veer option offense. St. Helena gave him the ball a career-high 39 times, and he responded by rushing for 329 yards and six touchdowns, leading the Saints to the 54-39 victory. The win created a three-way tie for second place in the final league standings, and also guaranteed the Saints one more home game in the playoffs.

“That game was definitely the most memorable moment, because I also broke the single-season record for rushing yards, and we got the big win we needed as a team,” Robledo said. “We overcame the struggle of not having subs, and having to push through all four quarters each game. I am just thankful for each and every one of my teammates, and looking forward to the next season with them.”

Despite having already broken the school’s single-season record for rushing yards and having re-written the single-game record book with three different performances, Robledo was not even done, especially not with a home playoff game on the horizon. Instead, as St. Helena hosted St. Vincent de Paul in the quarterfinals, the sophomore standout turned in one more memorable performance.

It may not have been as yeoman-like as his 39-carry effort, but Robledo torched the visiting Mustangs in the playoffs with a 30-carry, 323-yard performance, running for four more scores, including a 93-yard dash during the Saints’ 44-22 victory. And even though he would find it tougher sledding in the next week’s 49-14 loss to eventual CIF champion Salesian, Robledo had already made an indelible imprint on the 2019 football season.

For the year, Robledo finished with 2,215 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground. In addition, he intercepted five passes on defense, returning two of those for scores. In fact, while Robledo was the offensive workhorse, he continued to work hard at his craft on defense as well throughout the season.

“I think some of his most enjoyable moments on a weekly basis were the opportunities to intercept my passes in practice while I was playing scout quarterback and the first-team defense was on the field,” Farrell said. “He just has that competitive nature which carries over into everything he does.”

It’s that competitive nature and work ethic which has the St. Helena community already excited for what the 2020 campaign can bring, especially with another year of physical maturity and another track season in the spring to add to Robledo’s already well-documented talents.

“Could we have predicted this big of a season? No, but we knew we were going to be good, and everyone on the field made it happen,” Farrell added. “I can’t believe we have Ivan for two more years. He’s a real down to earth, humble kid in all aspects of his life. On the field, he is so good and instinctive already in the open field, with such tremendous vision and maneuverability. He’s going to be really good the next couple years.”

For his efforts this past season, we are pleased to recognize Ivan Robledo as the Prep2Prep NCS Sophomore of the Year.

Other players considered include Castro Valley’s Zach Sandoval, Casa Grande’s Ryan Kasper, San Ramon Valley’s Jack Quigley, Tennyson’s Salesi Moala, St. Bernard’s Damarte Prudhomme and De Anza’s Albert Dominick.