ALL-CENTRAL COAST SECTION
Player of the Year
SEAN BILTER, ST. IGNATIUS
By NATE SMITH
Certainly, the St. Ignatius boys soccer program has seen its share of success over the past few seasons. The Wildcats have won three straight West Catholic Athletic League titles, captured two Central Coast Section Open Division championships previous to this past season and added a CIF NorCal Division I title in 2018, the first year in which that tournament was played. So when a player exiting the program is described as arguably the most decorated player in program history, one should pay attention.
That’s exactly how coach Alan Downey described senior Sean Bilter, the top defender over the last few years for St. Ignatius. Bilter, who was named the WCAL Defender of the Year this season, became a varsity starter as a sophomore, not coincidentally at the same time which the Wildcats started their amazing three-year run.
“He had tremendous maturity, even as a sophomore,” Downey said. “We built our entire defensive strategy around him when he was a junior, and he did anything we needed him to as a senior.”
Given his skill set, Bilter would have been a tremendous influence in the midfield or even on the attack. But staying with his consistent with what Downey described as a personality trait of selflessness, Bilter sacrificed personal statistics to do what was best for St. Ignatius, which was to anchor the defensive unit and prevent other teams from getting good looks at the goal.
That’s not to say he did not showcase his offensive ability at times, either. In early January, facing eventual Arizona 6A state champion Brophy College Prep, Downey moved Bilter up front in the final five minutes of a scoreless match. The UC Davis commit responded by scoring the game-winning goal, giving the Wildcats one of their signature wins for the season.
“He could have been great for us offensively if needed, and displayed so much versatility,” Downey added. “But he was so great defensively for us. He would take leading scorers from other teams and not even let them get a look at the goal.”
Indeed, the Wildcats allowed just 17 goals all season long, and three of those came in an early-season loss to Southern Section powerhouse Loyola. The best stretch of the season came late, when SI put up a 10-game unbeaten streak, winning its final nine games of the regular season, including a big win over eventual CCS and NorCal champion Bellarmine. That late stretch cemented a third straight league title for the Wildcats.
The season for St. Ignatius came to a somewhat premature end, falling in the Open Division quarterfinals to Branham. The previous year, when the CIF awarded at-large berths on a regional level, the Wildcats would have been a shoo-in to receive one of the at-large berths. The formula changed this year, stripping the CCS of any possible at-large teams, which ended all hope for the Wildcats.
Even in the final game, however, Bilter was strong defensively, and after an early goal, Branham never again got a good look at a shot. Now, he will take his all-around skill set to go play Division I soccer, carrying with him the successes of his high school career.
“He is a fantastic representative of our program, and will continue to be at the next level,” Downey said. “He deserves this accolade and many more.”
For his efforts throughout the season, we are pleased to recognize Sean Bilter as the Prep2Prep Central Coast Section Player of the Year.
Other players considered include Cupertino’s Chris Ortiz, Bellarmine’s Mario Barocio, Santa Clara’s Solomon Kendaya and Soquel’s Ryan Jordan.
Coach of the Year
DANNY KADAH, BRANHAM
Branham's Danny Kadah (third from the left) is the Prep2Prep CCS boys soccer coach of the year.
By NATE SMITH
Two years ago, Branham stormed to a league title and a top seed in the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs, only to find itself ousted in the quarterfinals. Last year was a rebuilding year for the Bruins, which left them off the radar of many teams headed into the 2018-2019 season. But despite numerous moments of adversity, Branham rose to the challenge this past season, capturing not only another Mount Hamilton championship, but surprising the rest of the section with a run to the Open Division title game and a berth in the CIF NorCal playoffs.
The Bruins took early control of the BVAL-Mt. Hamilton title race with an 11-game unbeaten streak, combining non-league with league success early in the year. However, a 4-1 loss to Prospect and a 1-0 loss to Pioneer left Branham in a must-win situation headed into its final game of the regular season, hosting Prospect in a match that would decide the league title and berth into the Open Division playoffs.
Despite the pressure of the moment, the Bruins stayed loose in the big-game environment, prevailing 2-1 over the Panthers. With the victory came a league title, but also a daunting quarterfinal match-up in the Open Division quarterfinals, facing three-time WCAL champion St. Ignatius, which was also the two-time defending CCS Open Division champion and the reigning CIF NorCal Division I champion. The Bruins went on the attack early, getting a first-half goal from Nick Orozco and then holding off multiple offensive surges by the Wildcats to notch the upset.
Three days later, Branham found itself in a defensive struggle against Soledad, scoreless through one half, with the Aztecs peppering the goal against keeper Tanner Lanphear, who would finish the game with eight saves. This time, the Bruins stayed loose despite the stakes and found the net in the second half on a game-winner from junior Carter Thompson. Their ability to adapt in the moment came as no surprise to the team, which had been learning how to play on the fly all season under coach Danny Kadah.
“His style really allows you to learn for yourself, and he then steps in as needed,” said Branham defender Derek Hogan. “He uses the feedback given from players and uses it to better the team. And we certainly got better through the year.”
The win over Soledad propelled the Bruins into the Open Division title game, where they faced another WCAL power, Bellarmine. This time, the Bells gained control with a first-half goal and then held off a few second-half challenges from the Branham attack. Despite the loss, the Bruins were still placed in Division I for the CIF NorCal playoffs, which resulted in a quarterfinal loss to Sac-Joaquin power and eventual regional finalist Jesuit-Carmichael.
For Branham, the season may have ended with a pair of losses to elite opponents, but the overall body of work was no doubt the greatest in program history. An unbeaten run at the Pioneer Valley Tournament in Santa Maria, capturing the BVAL-Mt. Hamilton title, reaching the CCS Open Division title game and being selected for the NorCal Division I playoffs are all accomplishments which will remain with this year’s group of Bruins.
And for all his efforts throughout the season, we are pleased to recognize Danny Kadah as the Prep2Prep Central Coast Section Coach of the Year.
Other coaches considered include Bellarmine’s Conor Salcido, Watsonville’s Roland Hedgpeth and Soledad’s Reyes Mendoza.
Danny Kadah is the president of Prep2Prep; however, he is not involved in the all-CCS selection decision-making process.
FIRST TEAM ALL-CCS
Ryan Jordan, Soquel
Despite battling injury, Jordan scored 17 goals and was named co-MVP of the SCCAL for the Knights, leading them to back-to-back league titles. The Chico State commit had the game-winning goal in seven different league games, and scored 59 times over the past three seasons.
Casey Jaeb, Bellarmine
The Bells allowed just 16 goals in 24 matches, including shutouts in every CCS Open Division playoff game. Jaeb was a huge reason why, and earned first-team All-WCAL honors as a result. He added three goals and seven assists.
Andy Barajas, Overfelt
The Royals had a difficult time scoring goals this season, but stayed in games thanks to Barajas’ efforts along the back line. He was named Player of the Year in the BVAL-Mt. Hamilton and has committed to San Jose State.
SECOND TEAM ALL-CCS
Isaac Lomeli, Monterey
The first-team PCAL-Mission selection had 10 goals and 13 assists for the Toreadores, who went unbeaten in league play and knocked off previously unbeaten Sacred Heart Prep in the CCS Division I semifinals before falling to Prospect in the title game.
Derek Hogan, Branham
The Bruins allowed just 19 goals all season long, with the first-team BVAL-Mt. Hamilton selection working at a high rate across the back line. His efforts were key during a post-season stretch that saw shutout wins over both St. Ignatius and Soledad.
THIRD TEAM ALL-CCS
Diego Padilla (Ceiba Prep), Jaeson Gonzalez (Branham), Charles Debling (Los Gatos), Brandon Alper (Santa Teresa), Caleb Ojeda (Live Oak), Juan Arechiga (Monterey), Brandon Zelaya (Woodside Priory), Mica Sinko (Mitty)
Alexis Martinez (Harbor), Angel Avalos (Branham), David Arenas (Del Mar), Marcus Grundmann (Burlingame), Rami Mehawieh (Serra), Oscar Toulet (Mitty), Kol Van Giesen (St. Ignatius)
Nick Baginski (Santa Cruz), Andrew Canepa (Pioneer), Eduardo Robledo (Prospect), Zach Aguinaga (King’s Academy), Liam Griffin (Burlingame), Matt Espinoza-Urata (Mitty), Eli Streiker-Hirt (Sacred Heart Cathedral)
Julio Martin (South San Francisco), Alessandro Compoginis (Soquel), Jackson Druker (Palo Alto)
Angel Medrano, Osvaldo Avalos
Bryan Martinez, Ivan Gonzalez
Daniel Cantolan, Ivan Lomeli
Sergio Zavalon Sanchez
Noah Robertson, Tyler Stevenson
BELLARMINE COLLEGE PREP:
Gabi Martinez, Yoni Aidlberg, Blaze Strangio
Lucas Cuellar, Matin Faghany
Andrew Morales, Aymeric Destree
Jose Chovolla, David Garcia-Garnica, Christian Medina
Muaath Nofal, Daniel Wilson
CRYSTAL SPRINGS UPLANDS:
DOWNTOWN COLLEGE PREP:
EASTSIDE COLLEGE PREP:
Saathvik Vangati, Daniel Patino
Carlos Guerrero, Alberto Hernandez
Christian Lerma Cervantes
HALF MOON BAY:
Lalo Pardo, Anthony Rosales
Jared Anderson, Andrew Cheplyansky
Gabe Dimas, Tomislav Jozinovic
Sebastian Ruiz-Hurst, Tyler Ohman
Oscar Hernandez, Ivan Adan
Anthony Paoli, Anthony Moretti
Aidan Whitson, Michael Garcia
Jesus Duran, Conner Dietz
Harry Allen, Jim Dessouki
Thomas Petroff, Mathias Bonnet
Haruya Tatsumi, Justin Wang
Isaias Guizar, Alberto Ramirez
Ben Lasky, Connor Nelson
Kalani Napoleon, Jude Goncalves
Sean Crofut, Avi Libman
MONTE VISTA CHRISTIAN:
Bob Chavez, Josh Hollingsworth
Kevin Koh, Sawyer Sevely
NORTH MONTEREY COUNTY:
Ezequiel Hernandez, Edgar Oviedo
Caelum Kim-Sanders, John Garcia
Kevin Rincon, Guadalupe Medina
Eric Aboytes, Kenzo Morabia
Marco Torres, JP Mendoza
Andrew Garcia, Sergio Cruz
SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL:
SACRED HEART PREP:
Ethan Veghte, Kevin Box
Luis Alvarez, Edwin Mercado
Juan Muniga, Bryan Sanchez
SAN LORENZO VALLEY:
Luis Murillo, Matthew Angel
Zach Washburn, Nate Rogers
Jake Miller, Alan Ramirez
Gio Varar, Kyle Dapar
Alexis Sanchez, Alexis Ortiz
Jaden Ngo, Diego Alfaro
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO:
Julio Martin, Lionel Rodriguez
Tyler Roey, Collin Hamilton
ST. FRANCIS SCP:
Sean Fitzgerald, Paul Rich
Andrew Stiber, Joel Glassman
Julian Garcia, Jeal Leal
Brian Montiel, Quentin Berbessou
Dino Kuljancic, Ryan Gardner
Max Burke, Navid Daliri