Football

High school boys soccer: 2023 Deseret News Players of the Year

Whether it was scoring goals or keeping opponents off the scoresheet, the winners of the 2023 Deseret News boys soccer Player of the Year awards excelled in their roles while leading their respective teams to state championships.

Here’s a look at this year’s Players of the Year:

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Lone Peak and Syracuse play in 6A boys soccer state semifinal action at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. Syracuse won 4-1.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

6A Player of Year

Jack Cook, Syracuse, For., Sr.

The Titans had a magical run in the 6A tournament, ending their season with a state championship victory as a No. 12 seed.

While all Syracuse players stepped up their game to complete in the school’s first title run, it was senior Jack Cook who was at the heart of it all.

“He was the leader who kept us locked in all playoffs long,” Syracuse coach Taylor Allen said of Cook. “The strength of his game was that he stepped up in big ways in big games when we needed him to. It felt like each round of the playoffs he got more locked in.”

Cook’s performance in the 6A semifinals perfectly embodied the type of season he had. Facing an undefeated Lone Peak as heavy underdogs, Cook carved up the Knights, recording a hat trick in a 4-1 win for Syracuse.

Cook finished with 13 goals for a consecutive season, but really made strides in his creation for his teammates. After recording four assists as a junior, Cook recorded 12 assists this year.

The senior finished his high school career as Syracuse’s all-time leading goal-scorer.

“Jack is a phenomenal athlete both on and off the field,” Allen said. “He single-handedly carried our program to heights that they had never been to before. Great human, great player and great person.”

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Wasatch defender Canon Downey, shown here against Alta in the 5A soccer championship game in Sandy on Thursday, May 25, 2023, was voted the 5A Player of the Year.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

5A Player of Year

Canon Downey, Wasatch, Def., Jr.

The 5A champion Wasatch Wasps only conceded 13 goals this season, and it was junior Canon Downey who anchored down their staunch backline. 

Downey, who was voted a team captain by his teammates, played a key role in Wasatch’s ability to slow down the top attackers it faced.

“Canon is a remarkable soccer player,” Wasatch coach Jared Hendry said. “He talks with the other defenders, midfielders and coaches on how to stop the other team’s attack. … Canon was stellar in our state championship run and throughout the year. He helped us shut down some very good players and teams.”

Though Downey was tasked with keeping the opposition off the scoresheet, he still managed to score four goals on the season — one of which came in the Wasps’ 1-0 semifinal win over Skyline.

“His work ethic since I started teaching him in fifth grade has been nonstop,” Hendry said. “Canon strives to be the best he can be on the field. … (He) is one of those players you’d hate to go against and you are grateful he is on your team.”

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Green Canyon plays Mountain Crest during the 4A boys soccer quarterfinals at America First Field in Sandy on May 12, 2023.

4A Player of Year

Maynor Delarca, Green Canyon, Def., Sr.

Not a single team scored a goal against the Green Canyon Wolves during their 4A state championship run.

Senior Maynor Delarca served as the keystone of the Wolves’ brick wall of a defense. 

“Maynor is a unique player that you can’t replace,” Green Canyon coach Kirt Sadler said. “He can win balls in the air when teams play a direct style offense. He is also great in the air on corners and set pieces. He is a great leader and has great respect from others.”

In addition to leading the defense that conceded just 17 goals all season — including nine total clean sheets — Delarca chipped-in two goals and two assists for Green Canyon.

Title win and now 4A Player of the Year, the finish to Delarca’s high school career was about as good as it could get.

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Juan Diego Catholic’s Hauroa Morgant (9) celebrates with teammate Danny Gutierrez (10) after scoring on a free kick during the 3A boys soccer championship game at America First Field in Sandy on May 12, 2023.

3A Player of Year

Hauroa Morgant, Juan Diego, For., Sr.

The selection for 3A Player of the Year was pretty simple. Hauroa Morgant was the best player on the 3A classification’s best team.

In fact, Morgant has a legitimate claim as one of the state’s top players, regardless of classification.

The senior striker finished with a state record 45 goals and five assists in a season that saw the Soaring Eagle win 17 games and clinch the 3A state championship victory — where Morgant scored the game-winning goal.

Led by Morgant, Juan Diego never dropped a game to a 3A opponent.

“He worked very hard for this award,” Juan Diego coach Joe Baca said. “He set a goal at the beginning of the season to achieve 30 goals and win a state championship. His teammates really worked together with him to achieve the championship victory, and in the end he took the shot in the final to help them hoist the trophy.”

Morgant’s ability to set and achieve such ambitious goals helped him receive the Player of the Year honors, but Baca said it will help him achieve great things in his future.

“Overall he is an amazing kid that loves the game and the people he plays with,” Baca said. “I am looking forward to seeing where he will go in the future both on and off the pitch.”

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St. Joseph’s Daniel Fontes (11) celebrates after scoring against Maeser Prep in the 2A boys soccer state championship game at America First Field in Sandy on Friday, May 12, 2023.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

2A Player of Year

Daniel Fontes, St. Joseph, For., So.

St. Joseph sophomore Daniel Fontes was a nightmare for all the defenses he faced this season. 

In what was an undefeated season for the Jayhawks, Fontes notched 36 goals and 14 assists for the 2A classification’s champion.

The underclassman managed to attack his opponents’ goal in a plethora of ways. Whether it was beating his man off the dribble, making well-timed runs behind the defense or finishing with both feet, Fontes had a knack for finding the back of the net this year.

“Daniel is a very talented player and has some key attributes that make him fun to watch,” St. Joseph head coach Paulo Franco said.

“He is a very fast player. When you add Daniel’s speed to some of the other attributes on this list, you can see why he is so good. … Speed can hurt the best defenders and Daniel has a lot of it.”

Fontes was the complete package for the Jayhawks, who’ll have themselves a formidable striker for the years to come. 

“Daniel is a sophomore, natural talented player and scoring leader for the 2A Division. … That is a pretty solid haul for someone just starting their career,” Franco said.

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