Although the wide-open Casa Grande offense received much attention this season, it was no more impressive than the Gaucho defense to North Bay League coaches.
Four Casa Grande players — quarterback JaJuan Lawson, wide receiver Jared Roberts, running back John Porchivina and lineman Allan Hernandez — were named to the NBL all-league offensive first-team. Four — Roberts, Jimmy Johnson, Jake Ielmorini and Elijah Qualls — were picked to the first-team defense.
Roberts had a sensational season on both sides of the scrimmage line.
After playing running back as a junior, he switched to wide receiver and used his speed, strength and understanding of the Casa system to catch a team-leading 27 passes for 534 yards and six touchdowns. On defense, he was among the team's top tackers with 75 total tackles. He also intercepted three passes and caused a fumble. In addition, he was the team's leading kickoff returner, bringing nine kicks back for 175 yards.
Lawson, despite missing a game and playing two with an injured ankle, still had an exceptional season for Casa Grande. The junior completed 107 of 161 passes for 1,840 yards and 17 touchdowns, earning an outstanding quarterback rating of 117.
He was almost equally dangerous running the football, gaining 581 yards and scoring eight rushing touchdowns.
Porchivina, another junior, gained 651 yards on 89 carries, averaging better than seven yards per carry, and scored nine rushing touchdowns. He also caught eight passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
An outstanding defensive linebacker, he was named to the all-league second team defense. He had 49 tackles during the season.
Hernandez, a 6-foot, 230-pound senior, was a rock of consistency on a Casa Grande offensive line that was beset by injuries. He was a big reason the Gauchos were able to rush for 2,405 yards and pass for 1,872 yards more.
Gauchos Elijah Qualls, Cole Boggs and Shane Reed were named to the all-league second-team.Qualls could well have been a first-team selection at either running back or offensive line had he been able to settle into either position. As a running back, he led the team in rushing with 708 yards and a team-high 10 running touchdowns.
When the Casa Grande offensive line was hit by injuries late in the season, he unselfishly moved to center to shore up what had suddenly become a problem area. In several games, he played both center and running back.
Regardless of where he played on offense, he was a monster on defense. Playing in the middle of the Casa Grande line, he was credited with 83 tackles, an amazing number for a down lineman. He also had six sacks, recovered a fumble, caused a fumble and blocked three punts and a field goal.
Boggs was selected as a wide receiver after catching 21 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns.
But he did a little bit of everything else for the Gauchos. He carried three times on reverses, gaining 20 yards, he made 41 tackles on defense and he returned nine punts for 88 yards. He was also one of the Redwood Empire's most prolific punters, averaging 39 yards a kick, with a long of 55 yards and 11 inside the 20-yard line.
Reed, a 6-foot, 2-inch, 220-pound senior, was another mainstay on the Gaucho front line and one of the unsung reasons for the strong 7-4 Casa Grande season.