The Gatorade State Football Players of the Year were selected based on athletic production and impact in the 2015-16 season. Each winner also demonstrated high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership.
For the complete list of Gatorade State Football Player of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Gabe Ortega
School: Cleveland (Rio Rancho, N.M.)
Position: Quarterback and free safety
Weight: 190 pounds
Athletic achievement: He has led the Storm to a 12-0 record and a berth in the Class 6A state championship game against Eldorado High, scheduled for Dec. 5. At the time of his selection, Ortega had completed 148-of-223 passes for 2,358 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 848 yards and eight scores on 80 carries. On defense, the First-Team All-State kick returner (2013) and First Team All-State punter (2014) had recorded 62 tackles, three interceptions and forced a fumble.
Academic excellence: Ortega has maintained a 3.75 GPA.
Exemplary character: The president of the Cleveland High chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, he has volunteered locally as an elementary school mentor and youth football coach.
“Gabe’s ability to extend plays, scramble out of the pocket and find the open wide receiver make him very difficult to defend,” said Chad Adcox, head coach of Manzano High. “And if you don’t stay home on the zone read, he will take it to the end zone.”
THE FUTURE: Ortega has verbally committed to play football on scholarship at the University of New Mexico in the fall of 2016.