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Holtville High School senior running back Donovan Johnston tries to shed a tackler from Mountain Empire during a Desert League game. Johnston was named first team All-Desert League for his play this season. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. FILE PHOTO

FOOTBALL: 7 Vikings on All-DL First Team

Division 5 Champion Palo Verde Leads Voting

HOLTVILLE — The Holtville High School football team had seven players named to the All-Desert League First Team after the Vikings took second place in the DL, behind CIF-San Diego Section Division V champion Palo Verde Valley High of Blythe.

The Vikings, who finished 8-3 overall and 3-1 in the DL, with the only league loss being to the Yellowjackets, had a total of 14 players earn All-DL recognition.

Holtville High School sophomore linebacker Fermin Velarde (10) pursues an Imperial High running back during a game this season. Velarde earned first team All-Desert League honors for his play this season. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. FILE PHOTO

Earning first-team All-DL honors on offense was a quartet of seniors, including lineman Alan Marquez, quarterback Spencer Hilfiker and running backs Donovan Johnston and Payton Iten.

“Those seniors have been playing together for most of their lives, so it’s nice to see them get the recognition like this on their final season,” said Jason Turner, Holtville’s head coach.

Hilfiker, while not throwing for many yards, did toss 12 touchdown passes for the Vikings and averaged 18 yards per completion.

Iten was Holtville’s leading rusher with 809 yards and 10 touchdowns, followed by Johnston’s six touchdowns and 500-plus yards rushing.

Seven Vikings were named Second-Team All-DL, including seniors Roger Rolfe and Mason Toten, juniors Daniel Ledesma, Austin Trevino, Alexis Roldan and Zephan Duarte and freshman Smith Hilfiker.

Palo Verde had the All-DL Player of the Year in running back Markus Macon and Coach of the Year in Wally Grant. Vincent Memorial Catholic had the Kicker of the Year in Jose Guevara.

The rest of the First Team is made up of Palo Verde’s Aizik Gonzales, Carlos Gomez and Parker Loureiro, Vincent Memorial Catholic’s Jacobo Elias, Diego Elorduy and Armando Apodaca, Calipatria’s Alex Fernandez and Ricky Tirado and Mountain Empire’s Chaz Ennis.

Holtville High School senior quarterback Spencer Hilfiker (22) runs up the sideline against Calipatria during a Desert League game. Hilfiker was named first team All-Desert League for his play this season. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO

The rest of the Second Team offense is Palo Verde’s Terrell Cross, Jesus Flores, Rio Albanez and J.C. Phipps, Mountain Empire’s Abraham Penuelas and Cody Whitehead, Vincent Memorial’s Andre Rodriguez and Calipatria’s Jacob Zendejas.

The Defensive Player of the Year honor went to Mountain Empire’s Larry Clark and the Punter of the Year distinction went to Palo Verde’s Aizik Gonzales.

Holtville had three players earn First-Team All-DL Defense honors in senior corner back Dorian Maize, sophomore linebackers Fermin Velarde and Seth Iten.

The rest of the First Team defense included Palo Verde’s Xzavier Bejerano, Nicholas Garnica, Xavier Gonzales-Pinon and Ian Macial, Mountain Empire’s Lucas Spencer, Nakai Lindholm and Pedro Castaneda, Calipatria’s L.J. Sadberry and Zachary Leal and Vincent Memorial’s Diego Gallego and Diego Santillan.

The All-DL Second Team defense is Palo Verde’s Landon Salazar, Felipe Macial, Ty Phipps and Anthony Richards, Mountain Empire’s Danny Obed, Landon Laskey and Hunter Morgan, Calipatria’s Bradley Beltran, Angel Morales and Abraham Barros, and Vincent Memorial’s Gabriel Gonzalez, Pablo Zavala, Jesus Alonso Hurtado, Max Ascolani and Juan Carlos Bejarano.