Coaches recognize athletes at banquet

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The Winters High School football teams gathered post-season for their Awards Banquet. Varsity head coach Daniel Ward and junior varsity head coach Chris Kays handed out the honors on Dec. 16.

Warriors awarded with an All-League (first team) recognition included: running back Gio Jimenez, Justice Madsen (who played running back and wide receiver this season), offensive lineman Ethan Demmet and linebacker Sanders Clark.

Ward said the following Warriors were awarded an Honorable Mention (second team) recognition: wide receiver Ethan Judd, outside linebacker Nathan Figueroa, defensive back Jessie Madsen and quarterback Colton Brown.

Most valuable player recognition was awarded to Justice Madsen as the Offense MVP for his 1,500 total yards and 19 touchdowns this season. Ward said he doesn’t get to coach football players and athletes like Madesn very often.

“(Madsen) may have been the best running back and the best wide receiver in the league and he was a matchup nightmare,” Ward said. “Justice had three games where he had over 100 rushing and receiving yards in a game and that has only happened once in the last 18 years.”

Gio Jimenez received the Defense MVP award. Ward said Jimenez led in rushing and tackles, and had one of the best sophomore seasons in the History of WHS.

“More than just the tackles was his energy and passion that he played with. He was our emotional leader on defense and we definitely fed off of his energy, confidence and swagger. Has a chance to be special,” said Ward.

Ethan Demmet was the recipient of the Most Valuable Lineman award for, according to Ward, was the best two-way lineman in the Sacramento Valley League and possibly the entire section.

“Ethan is possibly the best outside lineman I have ever had, and on defense, led the team with tackles for loss and sacks. More important than physical abilities was his leadership on the line. He required a lot from his teammates and they wanted to do well for him,” said Ward.

The John Kammerer Coaches Award went to Sanders Clark. Ward called Clark a coach’s dream and the “perfect example of what hard work and dedication will do for an athlete.”

“Sanders played defensive lineman and center last year. He decided he wanted to play linebacker this year and I had my doubts, but he worked harder than anyone at his craft, he watched more films than anyone, and to see him become an all-league linebacker is special,” said Ward.

The Paul Zinselmeyer Coaches Award went to Ethan Judd who is a three-year varsity player who learned much from the athletes before him, turned it around, and became a leader and mentor for younger players this season.

“He has been playing football his whole life and it is a huge part of his life. He is one of the kids that got the most out of his senior year, played through injury and soaked it all up, and gave everything he had every Friday night,” said Ward.

The Jack Delbar Coaches Award went to Marcus Lopez, who Ward called a pleasant surprise for coming out so late in the season. Lopez

“The impact that Michael (Bazan-Jimenez) had on his life was huge and I feel like Marcus and so many others wanted to do everything they could to honor him. And for Marcus — that was playing football,” Ward said.

Ward said he’s never been around a player who smiled so much and had as much fun as Lopez, even when he was getting run over by the team’s running backs.

“Marcus quietly became a shutdown corner — but it was his smile and excitement for the game that made me a better coach. He was the only person more excited than me to come to practice every day. I wish more athletes understood that,” Ward said.

Demment was also recognized with the Senior Scholar Athlete award. Ward said Demment is one of the smartest football players he has ever met and was glad to see his successes carried over to the classroom.

Justice Madsen received the Iron Warrior, which is the only non-football/skill-related award. Instead, the Iron Warrior is given to the hardest worker on the team, who does not necessarily have to be the best player.

“This was tough because of COVID — but to see all the work (Justice) put in the last four years and see him transform from goofy stalky freshman receiver to a college football player is special,” said Ward.

Junior varsity athletes were also recognized by head coach Chris Kays.

Lane Brown was recognized as the Offense MVP and Ricky Garcia received the Defense MVP honors.

Ward said this year they decided to name the Junior Varsity Coaches awards after Michael Bazan-Jimenez and Noah Lichwa, who were two WHS and football athletes who died over the summer in an ATV accident.

Jake Woods received the Michael Bazan-Jimenez Coaches Award and Nate Apodaca received the Noah Lichwa Coaches Award.

“It was emotional and meaningful for our kids,” Ward said.

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