• November 23, 2020

HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER: Six OHS players sign to play at UTPB - Odessa American: Sports

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HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER: Six OHS players sign to play at UTPB

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Posted: Friday, May 15, 2020 9:21 pm

For six Odessa High senior soccer players, next year’s collegiate team won’t feel too different.

They also won’t have to travel very far to go to school.

That’s because all of them have signed their letters of intent to play at UTPB in the fall.

Jesus Montes, Ivan Jackson, Alan Rubio, Gabriel Padilla, Cain Cordova and Brandon Bernal all signed their letters of intent at a ceremony Friday.

The ceremony came a few months after the Bronchos’ 2020 season came to a premature end due to COVID-19, causing UIL to cancel the remainder of the spring sports calendar.

“We were talking about how we thought we played our last game together but now we get to play for four more years,” Rubio said.

The Bronchos were awarded the District 2-6A title for the second consecutive season as the Odessa High was leading the standings with one game remaining in the regular season.

For Odessa High’s head coach Eliseo Ortiz, getting to see his six players sign on to play in college was rewarding but he’s also happy to see them get to play on the same team.

“It’s really rewarding,” Ortiz said. “The fact that they get to keep playing together and to get an education is great. I’m happy for them. It’s an awesome day.”

The seniors were part of a group that helped the Bronchos qualify for the state playoffs all four years while winning back-to-back district titles.

“This group is very talented because they won several trophies,” Ortiz said. “They won a lot of games.”

But Ortiz added that there was more to this group than just winning trophies.

“It was a special group,” Ortiz said. “We’ll miss this group and we’ll miss their skills. More than that, we’ll miss their personalities.”

While the seniors are looking forward to playing together at the next level, they know it’s been tough to get over how abruptly their final season in a Bronchos’ jersey ended.

“It’s been kind of sad because knowing that we won district and knowing that we could go far in the playoffs has made us feel kind of down but this signing ceremony has been great,” Jackson said.

For Montes, he and his teammates have always had a special bond.

“I just feel blessed,” Montes said. “Being able to play with all of these teammates, we’re like family. We’re all talented in our own way.”

For Bernal, the opportunity to continue to play with a number of his teammates in college is great but he’s also happy just to have the opportunity to play soccer at the NCAA Division II level.

“It makes me feel happy because I’ve always wanted to play at the next level,” Bernal said. “I feel like I still have a few years to go.”

For Cordova, being able close to home is another plus.

“It feels good not having to go very far,” Cordova said. “Saving money will be good, we also have all of these teammates that we’ve played alongside at the next level.”

The Bronchos were well-represented in this year’s All-District team.

Rubio earned Most Valuable Offensive Player honors, while Jose Leyva was named the Most Valuable Defensive Player.

Bernal, Padilla, Montes and Jackson were all named to the First Team All-District 2-6A team as well, while Cordova made second team.

“It’s just crazy how we all have a lot of talent and that it’s recognizable to play at the collegiate level,” Padilla said. “I’m excited to see what we can do.”

The seniors will be playing for UTPB head coach Dennis Peterson. The Falcons will be coming off a 2019 season that saw the team go 5-11-2 overall and 2-7-1 in the Lone Star Conference.

Ortiz won’t have to travel very far to watch his now former players compete.

“That’s another awesome thing,” Ortiz said. “It’s going to be fun to go support them and to watch them play and to encourage them. It’s a lot of fun for them to be close by.”

Odessa, TX

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