Since he was a sophomore playing on varsity two years ago, Burroughs High's Brandon Gerlach continued to grow as a player.
"It has just been great to see Brandon progress like he has since he started to play for us as a sophomore," Burroughs Coach Mike Kodama said. "And he just continued to get better and his skills increased every year."
The culmination of those skills were displaced this past season for Gerlach, who was one of the Indians' captains. A force in the midfield, the senior orchestrated the team's offense and took charge when it came to running Burroughs' set pieces. The midfielder's contributions helped the Indians capture a second straight Pacific League championship.
Those skills were recognized by the rest of the Pacific League, as Gerlach was named the league's player of the year.
Gerlach was joined on the all-league list my six teammates. Making the first team was junior forward Ashot Veisyan, senior defender Michael Conrad, senior midfielder Nolberto Alcantar and senior forward Milosh Petko.
Named to the second team were Burroughs junior midfielder Andres Aguilar, who was joined by Burbank senior midfielder Christopher Mazzi.
Earning spots as honorable mention picks were Indians' senior midfielder/defender VJ Salazar and Burbank sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Hank.
Although Gerlach said it is an honor to win the league's top award, he added he is humbled by the recognition.
"It is really more of a team award than a personal award for me," said Gerlach, who was a first-team all-league and third-team All-CIF Southern Section Division II selection as a junior. "There was no way I could have done what I did this season without the guys I had around me. I feel fortunate to have such a good group of guys to play alongside.
"But that's how it's been during all my three years at Burroughs. I've really been lucky to play on teams that have a wealth of talented players."
This season for Burroughs, Gerlach played in 22 games, scored five goals and had 10 assists. He also came up big in league for the Indians, scoring game-winners versus Crescenta Valley and Arcadia.
During his senior campaign, Gerlach was asked to take on more of a leadership role. It is a role that he relished.
"I do enjoy the leadership spot," said Gerlach, who plays club soccer for FC Golden State. "I think the key parts to playing the captain role is how close I was with everyone on the team. We were all super close and I had played with a lot of them since I was little. So that made it so much easier for me…it was just awesome."
Kodama, who has won nine league titles with the Indians, said Gerlach was an invaluable player on the pitch.
"We really asked Brandon to do a lot of things for us this season," Kodama said. "Sometimes you would see Brandon in the middle of the field and sometimes you would see him up top. We really gave him the freedom to choose where he thought was best and where he needed to be and what he needed to do to make the team move best.
"He is such a hard worker and he is always giving it is all on the field. He also just has the ability and that talent to take it to another gear when he needs to."
Conrad, another All-CIF player from a year ago, played in 15 games and came back from early season injuries to guide the No. 1 defense in the league. Veisyan was the only Burroughs player who took part in all the team's 24 games. He led Burroughs with 18 goals. Alcantar played in 21 games, scored five goals and had six assists. In 23 games, Petko tallied 13 goals to go along with six assists and he scored five goals in the final last week of the regular season, two versus Muir and three in the title-clinching game against Burbank.
While Aguilar tallied four goals and seven assists, Salazar had three goals and six assists.
"There were a lot of good teams and talented players in our league this year," Kodama said. "To get as many players as we did on the all-league says a lot."
Burroughs finished 16-4-4 overall and 11-1-2 in league.
With Burbank's Mazzi and Hank, Coach Loi Phan said the two were important players for the Bulldogs.
"They really don't have that great stats this year," said Phan, whose team won one league match. "But those were two of the main guys for us this year and they worked hard."