Harlingen South’s Jose Lerma is a clear-cut choice as MVP of the Valley Morning Star’s 2019 All-STAR boys soccer team.
He led the way for the Hawks this season as a senior forward. It was a record-setting season for the South boys on the soccer field, as they won in the playoffs for the first time in school history after a wait of 25 or so years.
Lerma, a graduating senior and four-year starter, was right there at the forefront for the 17-10 Hawks, who went into the playoffs as the District 32-6A runner-up. Lerma led the team with 22 goals on the season.
Lerma also was the unanimous choice as MVP for the All-District 32-6A selections.
“I really like his work ethic, and he’s just a talented player that has a knack for getting better,” South coach Julian Robles said of his star player. “When Jose was a freshman, he was newcomer of the year (in 32-6A). Now to see him as MVP four years later just goes to show that with hard work you can accomplish things.
“One thing we always preach here is that hard work pays off, and it has for Jose,” added Robles, who just completed his fifth season guiding the team and is the All-STAR coach of the year. “He led us as a captain, he led us as a scorer, and he did everything he had to do for this team. He wanted to make it a memorable senior season by helping us advance in the playoffs (and he did).”
Added fellow senior captain Angel Ortega, the All-STAR defensive player of the year, “As team captains, Jose, Eric (Lopez Jr.) and I wanted to go the farthest possible and break all the odds against us to make it past the first round of the playoffs. That’s what we did, and we actually did more than that (by winning two games during the playoffs).
“Even though we couldn’t quite make it to the regional tournament, it was still a good experience for the team,” Ortega added. “It was also good history for the school.”
This season made it all worthwhile for Lerma, who plans to attend the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg and pursue a degree in international business. He and Ortega also want to walk on to the UTRGV soccer team.
“It’s been a good four years, and this was the best one,” Lerma said. “I worked hard all four years so we could go to the playoffs and go as far as we could. This year was like the breakout season for me and the team. It was amazing thanks to Coach Robles, the other coaches and all the players on the team.
“Coach Robles conditioned us and put us through drills (that helped us),” Lerma added. “The amount of time and work we all put in helped us out a lot.”
Receiving his MVP awards for the All-STAR Team and for all-district is something Lerma won’t soon forget.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “I never thought something like this would happen to me. During all my younger years in high school I would always see these great players get these (MVP) awards, and finally I’m able to be one of them, so it’s really a blessing.
“I always tried to keep my team motivated, and that included keeping our heads up when the odds were against us,” Lerma added. “I never tried to be mean, but I always tried to get the best out of my teammates. If it did happen (and there was a misunderstanding), it was just to get the best out of them.
“I’d just like to thank everybody that supported the team and supported me throughout my four years, especially this last year. Thank you to all of my teammates who were there from Day 1. Even if we had a bad game or I had a bad game, we never gave up on each other.”