After tearing through the regular season and amassing an 18-game win streak that dated back to last season, the Palm Springs Indians headlined the 2015 all-Desert Valley League awards, which were released Monday, three days after the season officially ended for teams in the Coachella Valley.
Highlighted on the all-league team was senior quarterback Will Olvera, a four-year starter who passed for 2,994 yards and 34 touchdowns leading the Indians to an 11-1 record. Over the last two years, Olvera compiled a 23-3 record as a starter and threw for 6,399 yards and 69 touchdowns versus just 12 interceptions.
Players for the all-DVL team were selected by league coaches following the regular season.
“It didn’t come as a surprise to us that he had that kind of season,” said Palm Springs head coach Dan Murphy, who noted that Olvera played most of the season with a nagging ankle injury. “He was the field general we expected him to be, and it’s just a testament to his character and his competitive nature.”
Olvera’s teammate for the last four years, and perhaps his closest friend on the field, Tayler Hawkins, was named one of two co-Defensive Players of the Year, along with Palm Desert’s senior linebacker Tommy Jacobsson. Murphy was named the league’s Coach of the Year, and Xavier Prep won the annual sportsmanship award.
“It feels good,” Hawkins said Monday. “I worked really hard with my teammates. All we wanted to do is win.”
Hawkins, Olvera and the Indians fell short of their ultimate goal of repeating as CIF-SS Eastern Division champions, falling to Oak Hills High in the quarterfinals. But Palms Springs was the only team in the Coachella Valley to go unbeaten in the regular season, and Palm Springs did so with several key players missing games dues to injury. A large part of that was because of Hawkins, who was a starter on offense, defense and special teams — he punted the ball and returned kicks.
Hawkins compiled 61 catches for 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns, while scoring four additional touchdowns on the ground, on defense and in the return game. He intercepted five passes and recovered a fumble as a shutdown cornerback and averaged 38 yards per kick as a punter.
“Tayler exceeded our expectations,” Murphy said. “He really created the spark we needed on both sides of the ball and on special teams, and had the kind of year we knew he could have.”
Jacobsson, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, and played out of position at quarterback when he did play, made up for lost time this season. He recorded 95 tackles for a defense that posted three shutouts and held six opponents to seven points of less. He also scored a pair of touchdowns on offense and was the Aztecs’ leading receiver.
“Tommy had a great season,” Palm Desert head coach Pat Blackburn said Monday. We had a lot of great defensive players this year, but he was the leader.”
Palm Springs earned nine spots on the first team. Palm Desert, the league’s second-place team, earned eight, and third-place La Quinta had six. Both Palm Desert and La Quinta outlasted Palm Springs in the postseason and concluded their seasons on Friday in the CIF-SS Eastern Division semifinals.
The 2015 season was among the more competitive in recent league history. Palm Springs was the top-ranked team in the division all season, and Palm Desert and La Quinta overcame slow starts to finish among the top four in the playoffs. Coachella Valley overcame some early setbacks to earn a playoff spot for the first time since 2010. The DVL was the only league in the division to have three teams in the CIF quarterfinals.
Offensive players of the year: Will Olvera, Palm Springs, sr., QB
Defensive players of the year: Tayler Hawkins, Palm Springs, sr., DB; Tommy Jacobsson, Palm Desert, sr., LB
Coach of the year: Dan Murphy, Palm Springs
Sportsmanship: Xavier Prep
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
Palm Springs: Tayler Hawkins, sr.; Will Olvera, sr.; Joshua Barlow, jr.; Adrian Olvera, sr.; Franklin Miller, sr.
Palm Desert: Beau Berryhill, sr.; Tommy Jacobsson, sr.; Richard Armada, sr.; Jordan Saman, sr.;
La Quinta: Benji Cordova, jr.; Justin Anderson, jr.; Robbie Polimeni, sr.;
Coachella Valley: Nick Hernandez, jr.
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
Palm Springs: Tayler Hawkins, sr.; Tyler Hawkins, sr.; Trenton Thompson, sr.; Brian Morales, jr.
Palm Desert: Tommy Jacobsson, sr.; Joe Caridi, sr.; Will Emmett, sr.; Beau Berryhill, sr.
La Quinta: Robbie Polimeni, sr.; Brian Mello, sr.; Michael Garrett, sr.
Indio: Fernando Meza, sr.
Xavier Prep: Jackson Lindley, sr.
SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
Palm Springs: Rylan Mills, sr.; Noah McGuire, sr.; Gio Vallejo.
Palm Desert: Matt Low, sr.; Dakota Romero, sr.
La Quinta: Mike Garrett, sr.
Coachella Valley: Horacio Ramirez, sr.; Darius Hulsey, sr.; Romeo Martinez, jr.
Xavier Prep: Daniel Mendoza, jr.
Indio: Miguel Fabian, sr.
Cathedral City: Jordan Wallace, jr.; Mario Gonzalez, jr.
SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
La Quinta: Christian Cruz, sr.;
Palm Desert: Anthony Fabela, sr.; Matthew Fitzgerald, soph.
Indio: Miguel Fabian, sr.; Joseph Gonzalez, sr.;
Cathedral City: Anton Petee, sr.; James Green, soph.;
Coachella Valley: Jonathan Hamilton, sr.;
Xavier Prep: Ryan Rover, sr.; Justin Sykes, sr.; Isaac Ortega, sr.; Mason Sarna, jr.; Fisayo Omilana, sr.; Darrell Lewis, sr.;
Palm Springs: Donovan Russell, jr.; David Chavez, jr.
La Quinta: Josh Cabrera, jr.; Andrew Garcia, jr.
Palm Desert: Hunter McMillan, sr.; Denton Andersen, sr.
Indio: Brian Cervantes, sr.; Sean Cunningham, sr.
Coachella Valley: Javier Villareal, sr.; Jacob Salazar, jr.
Xavier Prep: Cris McElrath, sr.; Cesar Lopez, jr.