ELKO – Although no Elko County teams qualified for the Division 3A North regional tournament, several players were recognized for their talents by opposing coaches.
Elko senior midfielder Jorge Landeros and Spring Creek senior midfielder Garett Whimple each earned 2nd-Team All-North selections from the “A” league, West Wendover senior midfielder/forward Omar Corona snagging a 1st-Team All-North selection from the “B” league and closing with a 2nd-Team All-State honor in the combined voting of the two conferences.
Despite missing the playoffs, Landeros led the Indians to an 11-15-1 overall record and a 7-10-1 mark in league play – Elko closing the season in sixth place in the 3A North “A” league standings – the top-five teams from the “A” league qualifying for the regional tournament.
Possessing the ability to score and pass, Landeros took on a leadership role and did more distributing of the ball than he did looking for own shots.
He netted six goals of his own, but Landeros tallied a team-high 14 assists – scoring 26 total points.
Like Landeros, Whimple commanded the middle of the field for his team.
The Spartans closed the season with a with a 7-12-3 record and went 6-10-2 in the Division 3A North, ranking seventh in the standings.
Whimple tied for the team high with five assists and scored two goals of his own, posting nine total points, which tied for second on Spring Creek’s roster.
He scored three points on two occasions, each occurrence coming with one goal and an assist, doing so on Sept. 5 in a non-conference game against West Wendover and once more on Sept. 29 against Fallon.
West Wendover did not record stats for the season, but Corona packed the Wolverines to a 5-14-1 record and 3-8-1 mark in the Division 3A North “B” league – which advanced the top-three teams to the 3A North regional tourney – West Wendover finishing in seventh place.
Three Elko players and two Spring Creek athletes finished the season with honorable mentions for consideration of the league awards.
Leading the charge was Elko junior striker Natu Meles, who topped the Indians’ roster with 11 goals.
He was a dual-threat weapon to score or set up his teammates, also dishing nine assists – ranking second on the team in dimes.
Meles’ 31 total points led the team.
No Spring Creek player did a better job of putting the ball in the net than junior forward Noah Rice – who scored 11 more goals than any other Spartan – draining a team-best 14 goals.
Rice booked three multi-goal games during the year, including a season-high three scores for a hat trick on Oct. 13 against Incline.
His two-goal contests came in back-to-back games on Oct. 25 and Oct. 26 against Lowry and Fallon.
Elko’s Eddy Sainz became much more of an offensive weapon with increased minutes during his senior season, scoring goals and passing to others.
He finished the year with 21 total points, coming on an even attack with seven goals and seven assists.
Spring Creek senior defender Samuel Claridge manned the backline of the Spartans’ defense with remarkable efficiency.
He routinely was the first man to the action – using both his head and his feet – winning balls out of the air.
Claridge also used rare offensive opportunities to his advantage, one directly leading to a victory.
For the season, he booked two goals and made an assist – but no shot he took impacted a contest more than his follow-up header on a corner kick in the final minutes for a 1-0 win on Sept. 25 against Lowry, in Spring Creek.
His other goal came on Sept. 5 in a non-league contest against West Wendover, and his lone assist was dished on Sept. 8 at North Tahoe.
Elko senior Lupe Ortiz notched one goal but dished four assists to his teammates.
Academic State Championship
While the Spartans were absent from the postseason, Spring Creek did damage with its schoolwork.
For the fifth-straight year, the Spartans were named the academic state champions – marking the sixth time in eight years Spring Creek claimed the honor under head coach Leaf Knotts.
Congratulations to Elko’s Jorge Landeros and Spring Creek’s Garett Whimple on their 2nd-Team All-North “A” league selections, Omar Corona on his 1st-Team All-North “B” league and 2nd-Team All-State honors – the Spring Creek Spartans on their academic state championship – and to all athletes who were recognized for their play during the 2018 boys soccer season.