Pajaro Valley High junior Isaac Rojas was named the Pacific Coast Athletic League Cypress Division's Player of the Year for the 2022-23 season. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian file photo)

WATSONVILLE—Prior to the season, Pajaro Valley High senior Isaac Rojas changed the shoelaces on his red cleats and it turned out they weren’t exactly the right length.  

No matter how many times he tied them they just came apart, continuously stepping on them yet never tripping over.

“I just got used to playing with untied shoes,” Rojas said.

But with his shoelaces untied and all, it seemed like nothing stood in the way of the standout midfielder who was all over the pitch for the Pacific Coast Athletic League Cypress Division champion Grizzlies this season.

Rojas was generous with the ball as he recorded a team-best 24 assists, while also notching 11 goals to help Pajaro Valley reach the Central Coast Section Division I title game for the first time in the program’s history.

“I put in the extra work myself throughout the season,” he said. “I’d wake up at 6am to go train and the work ended up paying off.”

The coaches within the league recognized all of his extra hard work by naming Rojas the Cypress Division’s Player of the Year for the 2022-23 season.

“I gotta give a lot of credit to my teammates because my teammates are my coaches,” he said. “Every single day in practice and in games they push me to be the best player that I could be on the field.”

Pajaro Valley coach Cesar Rojas can say so many things about his son, starting with he’s a humble kid that breathes and lives for the sport of soccer. 

“Isaac, he’s a hard working kid, pushing the teammates to do double sessions, motivating others to work as hard, keeping the team united,” Cesar Rojas said. “Stepping up to his role as captain, talked to the guys who were slacking off to get them back on track.”

Rojas saw Isaac take command of the Grizzlies during their match against Edison High during the Central Valley Powerade Showcase in Fresno Dec. 17. 

Isaac Rojas was injured but he begged his coach to let him return and it changed the face of the team. He recorded a pair of goals including the go-ahead score. 

“I can’t believe how you were injured and you went in there and showed everyone at the level that we have to play,” Cesar Rojas said. 

Isaac Rojas has been playing soccer since he was 4 1/2 years old. At 11 years old, he had an opportunity to make it up the professional ranks playing for Monarcas Morelia–a Mexican club that currently plays in the Liga de Expansion MX.   

Rojas lasted for a little more than a month until he wanted to return home. He tried again two years later but then he broke his tibia.

“I don’t think the injury ever crossed his mind, after a month of recovery he came back like nothing happened to him,” Cesar Rojas said. “At that point, I realized what Isaac was made of.”

Isaac Rojas said his goal is to win every single game and attempt to stay undefeated. The Grizzlies finished with a 17-2-4 overall record and won the PCAL Cypress Division with a 10-1-1 record in league play this season.

The first loss came in league play against Gonzales, which at that point snapped Pajaro Valley’s 12 game win streak. But no loss stung harder than falling to Bellarmine College Prep in the CCS D-I final. 

“I feel like both of those losses were because of us,” Rojas said. “I personally don’t think the teams were better than us, I feel like we just made a lot of mistakes and they capitalized on that.”

Rojas mentioned he wanted to take on more of a commanding role because he felt like they needed some leaders to step up. He teamed up with senior co-captain Ignacio Aguado, who earned All-PCAL Cypress Division First Team honors after finishing with a team-best 14 goals and was second with 14 assists. 

Both team captains wanted to let their teammates know they were capable of winning a section title and give it all they could because a trip to the CCS postseason is never guaranteed.

We want to go with an even hungrier mindset, wanting it more,” Rojas said.

Cypress Division

Pajaro Valley High senior Ignacio Aguado earned Pacific Coast Athletic League Cypress Division First Team honors. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian file photo)

Individual Awards

Most Valuable Player: Isaac Rojas, Pajaro Valley

Offensive Player of the Year: Evan Mariscal, Monte Vista Christian

Defensive Player of the Year: Ryan Ruiz, North Monterey County

First team

Aaron Hernandez, Pajaro Valley

Ignacio Aguado, Pajaro Valley

Isaac Rojas, Pajaro Valley

Johan Vasquez, Pajaro Valley

Byron Duenas, Rancho San Juan

Edgar Zamora, Rancho San Juan

Eduardo Manriquez, Rancho San Juan

Jorge Uribe, Gonzales

Ulisses Mancillas, Gonzales

Ryan Ruiz, North Monterey County

Jesus Hidalgo, North Monterey County

Evan Mariscal, Monte Vista Christian

Dylan St. Laurent, Marina

Nawodit Alemagar, Pacific Grove

Second team

Giovanni Bedolla, Pajaro Valley

Jesus Alvarado, Pajaro Valley

Carlos Mata, Pajaro Valley

Juan Limon, Pajaro Valley

Rafael Vargas, Rancho San Juan

Julian Hernandez, Rancho San Juan

Brandon Cardenas Nieto, Rancho San Juan

Jose Camacho, Gonzales

Omar Gonzalez, Gonzales

Angel Rico, North Monterey County

Carlos Paredes, North Monterey County

Landon Giordano, Monte Vista Christian

Skeebo Henry, Marina

Paul Rodriguez, Pacific Grove

Richard Chamberlin Sportsmanship Team

Rafael Rocha, North Monterey County

Luke Hollingsworth, Monte Vista Christian

Rigo Garcia, Marina

Byron Duenas, Rancho San Juan

Alexis Rojas Mendoza, Pacific Grove

Nathaniel Flores, Gonzales

Johan Vasquez, Pajaro Valley

Elgie Bellizio Sportsmanship Team Award: Monte Vista Christian

Gabilan Division

Watsonville High senior center back Manuel Cano earned All-Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division Second Team honors for the 2022-23 season. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian file photo)

Individual Awards

Most Valuable Player: Yoni Avelar, Alisal

Offensive Player of the Year: Emiliano Castro, Hollister

Defensive Player of the Year: Hugo Castro, Hollister

First team

Yoni Avelar, Alisal

Nathan Saldana, Alisal

Henry Perez, Alisal

Ronaldo Corona, Alisal

Eusebio Rivera, Hollister

Emiliano Castro, Hollister

Hugo Catalan, Hollister

Carlos Barajas, Alvarez

Diego Moreno, Alvarez

Yahir Cruz, North Salinas

Luis Godinez, North Salinas

Elias Arreola, Soledad

Sergio Jimenez, Watsonville

Alan Copado, Salinas

Second team

Yozef Real, Alisal

Jonny Virgen, Alisal

Miguel Cruz, Alisal

Kevyn Trejo, Alisal

Ezekiel Hernandez, Hollister

Adan San Ramon, Hollister

Juan Carlos Garcia, Hollister

Edson Gonzalez, Alvarez

Edwin Moreno, Alvarez

Bryan Gutiérrez, North Salinas

Isaac Mendoza, North Salinas

Diego Guillen, Soledad

Manuel Cano, Watsonville

Bryan Heredia, Salinas

Richard Chamberlin Sportsmanship Team

Nico Hernandez, Alisal

Jaret Avila, Hollister

Carlos Barajas, Alvarez

Daniel Macias, North Salinas

Daniel Zamudio, Soledad

Ormar Delgado, Watsonville

Jose Pelagio, Salinas

Elgie Bellizio Sportsmanship Team Award: Salinas

Santa Lucia Division

Offensive Player of the Year: Ignacio Delgado Rueda, Pacific Collegiate School

Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rocha-Diaz, St. Francis

First Team

Kevin Estrada, Anzar

Giovanni Estrada, Anzar

Emanuel Ponce, Ceiba

Remigio Guijosa, Ceiba

Alan Ramirez, Ceiba

Andres Martell, Ceiba

Max Reid, Oakwood

Carlo Ramirez-Truse, Pacific Collegiate School

Ignacio Delgado, Pacific Collegiate School

Tom Rey-Cenevaz, Pacific Collegiate

Emiliano Hernandez-Torres, St. Francis

Brandon Maguire, Trinity

Tristan Pfleger, York

Sebastian Del Toro, York

Second team

Ricky Gutierrez, Anzar

Anthony Roman, Anzar

Ivan Zavala, Ceiba

Israel Carrisales, Ceiba

Miguel Rios, Ceiba

Christian Perez, Ceiba

Colby Mossman, Oakwood

Finn Pmmerenke, Pacific Collegiate School

Rueda Kazuki Maeda, Pacific Collegiate School

Elan Rizvi-Neuman, Pacific Collegiate School

Liam Rawson, St. Francis

Caleb Bouwen, Trinity

Joe Smock, York

Austin Cook, York

Richard Chamberlin Sportsmanship Team

Noe Mendoza, Anzar

Israel Carrisales, Ceiba

Ryan Bruning, Oakwood

Sam Manchester, Pacific Collegiate School

Roman Torres, St. Francis

Camerone Maguire, Trinity

Joe Smock, York

Elgie Bellizio Sportsmanship Team Award: Anzar, Oakwood

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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