ELOY — Although the Santa Cruz Valley football team did not get a chance to defend its 2020 2A State Championship title, some individual members of the team are receiving recognition for their performances and the effort they put in during the season.

Senior running back Ricardo Alaniz received the 2A Rillito Region Player of the Year Award.

Alaniz, despite missing a couple games during this past year, had a stellar senior season to cap off his time at Santa Cruz. The Dust Devils’ tailback ran for 1,309 yards, with six of his eight games played rushing for over 100 yards and scoring 14 touchdowns on the ground. Alaniz saw some production on the defensive side of the ball as well, with one interception while playing defensive back.

“It was well deserved for him, he performed at a high level in all of our region games,” Dust Devils coach James Fitzgerald said. “Every game that he played from start to finish, he was capable of being able to run the ball between the tackles, as well as showing his versatility by running outside.”

Despite missing two games in the year, Alaniz was able to put up impressive numbers, Fitzgerald said that his season performance shows exactly what kind of player, and person Alaniz is.

“He is the type of kid that is about perseverance, both on and off the football field,” Fitzgerald said. “He is an extremely hard worker in the summertime, working 40 hours a week, and still comes to practice, and then gets extra training on top of that. When times are tough, he is going to step up.”

Even though Fitzgerald and Alaniz only spent one year together, with this past season being Fitzgerald’s first with the Santa Cruz program, he says that he and Alaniz had a great relationship. Mentioning how the two communicated well together, and helped each other on the field.

“He would kind of tell me what things have been like (in Eloy), people to know and stuff like that,” Fitzgerald said. “While I was able to teach some new stuff to him that he has been able to really pick up on. He already has a great foundation built, and I am just trying to give him every opportunity and every piece of information I can to help him be successful, in both football and life in general.”

With his time now over at Santa Cruz, Alaniz’s future looks to be on the right path toward success, both on and off the field.

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David Church is a reporter covering Eloy, Arizona City and sports. He can be reached at dchurch@pinalcentral.com.

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