Central Valley junior Andrew Hernandez and Ceres High freshman Karina Baez have been named the Courier’s Male and Female Newcomer Athletes of the Year, respectively, for their stellar performances during the fall sports season.
Baez enjoyed individual and team success as a key member of Ceres High’s varsity girls cross country program.
She helped lead the Bulldogs to a second-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference overall standings. Ceres High won six of seven league dual meets.
Karina claimed a seventh-place medal at the WAC Championships on Oct. 24 at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.
She completed the 3-mile race in a personal-best time of 23 minutes, 11 seconds.
“The first day I saw, I knew she would be one of our top runners,” Bulldogs’ head coach Katie Thiele said. “She’s very talented. She works hard every day. Hopefully, she’ll continue to improve.”
Hernandez had a productive first season of varsity football with the Hawks.
“He’s the best passer we’ve had my time here at Central Valley,” Hawks’ fifth-year leader Scott Edwards said. “He’s also the most mobile. He’s has an extremely, laid back personality. He doesn’t get overly worked up or overly excited. That can be a very positive thing.”
Andrew completed 112 of 210 passes for 1,393 yards with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 10 games. He also had three rushing TDs.
“He started every game,” Edwards said. “He didn’t come off the field. He did some good things. He settled down as the year went on and started making better decisions. He learned to trust the scheme.”
Hernandez completed 14 of 15 passes for 132 yards with three touchdowns and no picks during the Hawks’ 35-0 season-opening win over the crosstown-rival Bulldogs.
“He had a great game against Ceres High,” Edwards said.
Andrew threw for 216 yards and one TD while completing 16 of 18 passes in Central Valley’s 28-22 loss to Enochs.
He set career-high marks for passing yards (218), completions (18) and touchdowns (4) in a 42-27 setback to Golden Valley.
“He caught fire and played with a lot of confidence,” Edwards said.
Hernandez earned honorable-mention recognition during the Central California Conference’s year-end coaches’ meeting.
Central Valley compiled a 2-8 record and took sixth in the CCC standings (1-5).
“The last four to five weeks of the season, we were playing our best football,” Edwards said. “For the most part, so was he. He lived up to his expectations.”