After going on a tear to close out the 2009 season, the Braves finished in a three-way tie for the 3A West conference crown. Not surprisingly, Star Valley was well represented when all-conference and all-state awards came out this week.
Five players earned all-conference honors while an additional four earned honorable mention all-conference. Four of those players earned all-state honors, the highest number of all-state selections for Star Valley since 2005.
All-State / All-Conference:
Bill West (Senior) - West was a terror from the defensive end spot and also played extensively on the offensive line. He was second on the team in defensive points and was very difficult to block for the entire season. More impressive is the fact that West returned from a grisly broken leg in the second to last game of last season at Evanston to help lead this year’s defensive unit.
Alex Cooper (Junior) - Cooper was the leading defensive point scorer for any player that advanced to the playoffs. He led the team in defensive points and also made for a defensive attitude in terms of run support and pass coverage. Cooper’s real strength was tackling where he was one of the best in the state. He will be returning next season to lead what could be another salty defensive unit.
Larry Chavez (Senior) - Perhaps no player has meant more to the offensive and defensive lines over the past two seasons than Chavez. A versatile player who was asked to play center as a junior and up and down the offensive line as a senior when injuries decimated the squad early, Chavez showed incredible heart as he returned after a brutal cheap shot at Marsh Valley.
Mark Van Slyke (Senior) - Not a player who dominated with height or speed, Van Slyke overwhelmed defenses at times with his determination. Van Slyke caught a school record 50 passes in his two years at the varsity level. Those 50 passes helped him compile 550 yards in his career. Van Slyke also played significant time at linebacker in many blitz packages.
Nick Edwards (Senior) – Edwards, along with Chavez, helped wreak havoc with a push from the middle of the defensive line. One of the strongest players on the team, Edwards helped the Braves slow down the slew of impressive runners in the 3A West.
Hayden Heap (Senior) - Certainly not the biggest player, but one of the most tenacious players on the Braves was the only person on the team to score on both offense and defense.
Trenton Walters (Senior) - Walters had multiple interceptions and was very solid in run support from his safety position throughout the season.
William Buckley (Senior) - At 192 pounds, Buckley was a load when he carried the ball but even more so when he leveled a hit. Buckley had many memorable moments this year from his linebacker position.
Sean Smith (Senior) - With multiple quarterback sacks and fumble recoveries, Smith was one of the most unheralded players for the Braves this season. His ability to play bigger than his size from the linebacker position helped the Braves win several of their games.