A football player’s ideal Christmas present is to wake up and see his name on the All-State team.
Even better if the player is named a most valuable player among his statewide class.
It happened for two Mid-Columbia football players this year.
Tanner Bolt, the Prosser quarterback who threw for 3,294 yards and 43 touchdowns while leading the Mustangs to their sixth state championship, was named the Class 2A player of the year by the Associated Press. John Lesser, the Liberty Christian quarterback who set national 8-man records for career rushing yards (9,019), all-purpose touchdowns (147) and career scoring (1,076), was named the Class 1B player of the year.
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“If I could have put it on the list, I would have,” Bolt said. “I wasn’t expecting this at all.”
Remarkably, Bolt was only listed as an honorable mention on Central Washington Athletic Conference’s superlatives list, behind Ellensburg’s Donnie Ellersick (first team) and Selah’s Montana Blehm (second team). But the junior’s play — especially in the postseason (71-for-120, 871 yards, 8 TDs in the final three games) — made AP voters take notice.
“I understood (the CWAC vote). Montana and Donnie had great seasons,” Bolt said.
For Lesser, it’s his second consecutive season representing the Patriots on the All-State team — he made it as a first-team quarterback and a second-team linebacker in 2014. This year, he was named a first-team linebacker and a second-team quarterback.
“It feel’s accomplished, like all the hard work in high school paid off,” said Lesser, who is currently weighing offers to play college football at Eastern Oregon University, College of Idaho, University of Jamestown (North Dakota) and South Dakota School of Mines. “It’s been a pretty dang good year.”
In all, 24 Mid-Columbia players were named first-team all-state in their respective classes, and 15 more earned honorable mention nods.
Class 4A: Chiawana running back Andrew Vargas and Richland defensive lineman Lakota Wills were named to the first team. Chiawana offensive lineman Kameron Silvers, Richland linebacker Brecken Galliher and Richland defensive back Alex Chapman earned honorable mention.
Class 3A: Offensive linemen Korbin Sorenson of Kamiakin and D.J. Dyer of Kennewick were named to the first team, as well as Kamiakin defensive back Darreon Moore. Kamiakin defensive lineman Austin Crawford earned honorable mention.
Class 2A: In addition to Bolt, four other Prosser players were named to the first team. Riley Lusk was a two-way selection on the offensive and defensive lines. David Ledesma was honored as a linebacker, and Michael Kernan and Kason Blair as defensive backs. Honorable mentions went to Blair as a wide receiver and Thomas Niemeyer as a linebacker.
Class 1A: Royal’s Sam Christensen was a two-way first-team selection at wide receiver and defensive back. He was joined on the first team by Royal teammates Kaden Jenks (quarterback) and Joe Lang (defensive back), as well as Connell tight end Steven Kroontje and Connell offensive lineman Mathew Davidson. Honorable mentions went to Lang as a running back, Royal all-purpose player Jose Ponce and Connell linebacker Dallas Rodriguez.
Class 2B: Jacob Amato of Tri-Cities Prep (defensive line), Zion Branson of Waitsburg (offensive line), Diego Garza of Mabton (tight end) and Roy Zavala of Mabton (defensive back) were named to the first team. Salvador Urbina of Mabton (offensive line) received honorable mention.
Class 1B: Lesser was named first-team linebacker and received honorable mention as a quarterback. He was joined on the first team by Liberty Christian offensive lineman Stephen Carter, defensive lineman Eric Swanson and defensive back Mitch Godwin, as well as Touchet defensive lineman Leo Garcia. Also receiving honorable mentions were Garcia as a running back, Godwin as a wide receiver, Touchet’s Lot Butler as a linebacker and Touchet’s Carlos Rincon as a defensive back.