Holtville High School junior running back Payton Iten was named the Offensive MVP for the Desert League after racking up more than 500 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns in six games. | VALERIE MENDOZA PHOTO
HOLTVILLE — Two members of the Desert League champion Holtville High School football team earned MVP honors as junior running back Payton Iten was named the league’s offensive MVP and senior linebacker Ryder Merten earned the defensive MVP distinction.
Iten did the bulk of his damage after Holtville seniors Jose Devoux and Abraham Ramos were injured in the opening game against Brawley. Iten finished the final five games with more than 500 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.
Merten, who has signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of LaVerne in the fall, led the Vikings in tackles averaging more than 15 tackles per game and totaled close to 30 solo tackles in the short season.
“Payton stepping up like he did was wonderful to see,” said Jason Turner, Holtville High’s fourth-year head coach. “In football everyone has to have that ‘next-guy-up’ mentality because you never know when your number is going to be called.”
Other Vikings named to the first-team All-DL offense were four offensive linemen who opened the holes for Iten and the rest of the Holtville running backs: Alonzo Ambrocio, Alonzo Valenzuela, Nicholas Villegas, and Roman Ordonez. The final member of the Vikings on the first-team offense was Ramos, who finished with almost 400 yards rushing and five touchdowns in limited action.
Holtville players on the first-team All-DL defense along with Merten were linebackers Jeramiah Higgins and C.J. Nuñez, defensive end Jonathan Heraz, and corner back Isidro Garcia.
The Vikings had five players on the All-DL second-team offense in receivers Dorian Maize and Roger Rolfe, linemen Jeffrey Martin and Alan Marques and tight end Joel Gomez.
Holtville players on the second-team defense were defensive tackles Nathaniel Maturino and Jose Gomez, defensive end Cade Dammerall and linebacker Andres Luna.
Seven Scots on First Team
The Vincent Memorial Catholic High squad had seven players recognized with first-team All-DL honors. On offense it was running backs Noe Saenz and Max Diaz along with offensive lineman Derek Jimenez.
On the all-league defensive first team, the Scots’ had defensive tackle Baraquiel Fimbres and linebackers Juan Pablo Robinson, Arturo Clemente and Alejandro Cervantes.
Vincent Memorial had three players earn all-league second-team offensive awards in quarterback Diego Elorduy, tight end Benjamin Garza and offensive lineman Manuel Montoya.
On the defensive second-team for the Scots was defensive tackle Diego Santillan, defensive end Javier Gallego, corner back Esteban Sanchez and safety Andre Rodriguez.
Palo Verde Valley High of Blythe had nine players earn All-DL first team honors and eight players earn second-team all-league recognition. Mountain Empire High of Pine Valley featured six players named to the first team and another six players earned second-team honors.