Gerardo Perez Jr. was exactly what a football team needs, a player who can lead in both goals and assists.
The Vintage High senior did just that in the past 10-game spring season, leading the Crushers with 34 points on 12 goals and 10 assists.
The fourth-year college player and team captain tied fellow senior Emmanuel Duran for the team lead in goals as they were a dynamic duo that played a role in each other’s success.
“He was more the finisher and I was more the setter,” Perez said.
He was more than that, said co-coach Javier Covarrubias.
“Gera was the catalyst for our attack, playing on the right or left wing,” the coach said. “He’s a smart, intelligent player with great 1v1 skills and ability. While he wasn’t the one scoring goals, he was creating chances for his teammates to finish.
With Vintage finishing first in the league for the fifth straight season, Perez’s ability to score, help score and improve teammates made him an easy pick for the 2020-21 Napa County Boys Soccer Player of the Year. .
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Perez said Duran plans to join him on the Napa Valley College team this fall. He plans to specialize in viticulture – because his father works in a wine estate – or to become a firefighter.
The son of Gerardo Perez Sr. and Veronica Magdaleno appeared to jump into the fire as a college freshman in the fall of 2017, despite having played competitive football since he was 7 years old.
“I had more nerves at the time and was afraid of not performing well playing with children who were three years older than me,” he recalls. “But since then, no more youngsters in the team that I’ve known for over 10 years. I was a bond that we already had playing club football when we were little, growing up and watching each other develop. C So it was fun having all these high school experiences with them and making memories.
Perez started his club with the now defunct Napa Valley Soccer Club and later with Napa United. He moved to Napa Soccer Academy for three years, playing under current Justin-Siena Girls head coach Eric Branagan-Franco. Perez is now back with the Napa Valley 1839 FC program. He said he was training with both the younger team and the older team, who made the National Premier Soccer League playoffs and won a game on their first-ever trip to playoffs this summer.
“It improves your speed and you have to be smarter with the ball and think faster,” he said of training with the men of 1839 FC.
He said one of his most inspiring club coaches was Gavin Taylor, who “opened my eyes to see that we could reach a higher level. He was always very motivating and supportive and helped me improve.
Branagan-Franco also helped Perez become the stubborn player he is now.
“He would motivate me by giving me life lessons,” Perez said. “He would tell the truth and tell you what you need to do to get better.”
In the wake of two-time County Player of the Year Oscar Loyola leading Vintage with more than 20 goals in 2017-18 and 2018-19, Perez and Duran are succeeding in going against each other. Perez enjoyed getting more assists (12) than goals (nine) as a junior.
“We have a pretty close bond and on the pitch we understand each other,” Perez said. “We really don’t need to talk to each other. With our movements alone, we already know what the other is going to do. We’ve pretty much memorized each other’s game already.
Football is in the family. Not only did his father play locally as an adult, but Perez trains with his 10-year-old sister Angie, and his mother is linked to 2015 Napa County Boys’ Football Player of the Year, Jesus. Magdaleno.
Perez said he would benefit from his four-year career in Vintage in terms of “the bonds I’ve created and the coaches who have been there to support me and tell us that we always have to work hard in life. They told us that we should play hard for 90 minutes and that life would be like that, that we should keep going and never stop until we were satisfied, and always support each other like a family.
2020-21 Napa County Boys’ Football Superlatives