Six Outstanding Student Athletes Selected in Week 9 of Built Ford Tough Texas High School Football Player of the Week Program
- Class 6-A: Caleb Gerber, Jr., Running Back, El Paso Pebble Hills
- Class 5-A: Qua Gray, Sr., Quarterback, Lubbock Coronado
- Class 4-A: JoJo Weeks, Sr., Quarterback, Wimberley
- Class 3-A: Luke Cantu, Sr., Quarterback, Poth
- Class 2-A: Zach Gomez Sr., Quarterback, La Villa
- Private Schools: Kai Money, Sr., Quarterback/Kicker, Brownsville St. Joseph Academy
In its twelfth consecutive year, Ford Motor Company’s Player of the Week program is again honoring six outstanding student-athletes each week of the 2017 regular season, recognizing one player in each of the state’s six athletic classifications. The winners are chosen for athletic achievements on the field, as well as for outstanding scholarship and community involvement. These players are the embodiment of Ford’s Go Further commitment.
This week’s winning athletes join a long list of remarkable players recognized for their exceptional efforts.
Week 9 winners
Class 6-A: Caleb Gerber, Jr., Running Back, El Paso Pebble Hills
Friday nights in west Texas have become more entertaining now that El Paso Pebble Hills, which opened in 2015, is fielding a football team. The Spartans feature an exciting, high-powered offense that averages 43 points a game. Junior running back Caleb Gerber is responsible for much of the excitement and many of the points. Take last weekend when the 5-10, 150-pound athlete ran past and around the El Paso Eastwood defense during a wild 71-34 victory, clinching the nascent program’s first-ever playoff berth. Caleb was brilliant, carrying 18 times for 224 yards and six touchdowns and catching one pass for a 45-yard score. That’s 269 yards from scrimmage and seven TDs. “He would have had more yardage but Eastwood always onside kicked, leaving us with a short field. Three times in the first half Caleb scored on the first play of a drive. He did all his damage in just over two quarters,” says Head Coach Mark Torres. The Spartans moved to 8-0 and 5-0 in District 1-6A and have a short week before facing fellow undefeated El Paso Montwood in a key district showdown on Thursday.
The holder of a sparkling 4.0 GPA which ranks him #11 in his class, Caleb is a regular on the school’s honor roll, a future member of the National Honor Society, and is enrolled in the school’s law enforcement program (his dad is a border patrol guard). Though he excels on the gridiron, Caleb is a decorated track athlete, where he sprints and jumps, qualifying in the high jump for the regional meet last spring. Additionally, Caleb performs various service projects and is in the school’s High Character curriculum. He aspires to attend a service academy, with Air Force perhaps the most interested.
“Caleb is a high character kid and one of our leaders,” says Coach Torres. “Last week he kept Eastwood off balance and with his inside running ability, he busted the game wide open. Caleb is an outstanding player whether it’s running, catching the ball, or blocking. He can simply do it all.”
Class 5-A: Qua Gray, Sr., Quarterback, Lubbock Coronado
Lubbock Coronado quarterback Qua Gray knew that a victory over Lubbock Cooper would solidify his Mustangs’ post-season chances last week. A loss would create a four-team logjam at the top of District 4-5A standings. Qua, whose name is actually Qua’Vondrick, wouldn’t let that happen. An All-State pick last year, Qua hit his favorite receiver, Blair Conwright, on a pair of TD tosses (6 and 46 yards) in the opening quarter, giving the Mustangs a 21-7 lead that they never relinquished. A three-year starter who operates the Air Raid offense to perfection, Gray wound up with 24 completions on 38 attempts for 352 yards and five TDs as Coronado blasted their cross-town rivals, 51-22. Qua has now completed 152 of 232 passes for 2,409 yards and 32 touchdowns, well on his way toward surpassing last year’s totals of 4,192 yards and 53 scores. The win was the unbeaten Mustangs’ eighth of the year, earning them 11th place in the Dave Campbell Texas Football state rankings. The 6-1, 187-pounder hasn’t stirred much interest on the college front—yet! “The scouts just don’t seem to look for quarterbacks in our area,” says Coach Seth Parr.
A solid B-student, Gray also runs track in the spring. He’s in heavy demand at Lubbock’s elementary schools, where the youngsters treat Qua as a celebrity. He’s always involved with kids on game day.
“Qua is one of the toughest, most resilient kids I’ve ever been around,” says Coach Parr. “It’s a pleasure to be with him every day. We moved him to the varsity when he was a freshman and he has been with us every day since. We’d been out of the playoffs for nine years, but Qua put that in the rearview mirror. The last two years, he won more games (19) than any QB we’ve ever had. He studies the offense and has great timing and rhythm. And he has a big arm for his age.”
Class 4-A: JoJo Weeks, Sr., Quarterback, Wimberley
Wimberley’s game plan last week was exceedingly simple: execute efficiently. Senior quarterback JoJo Weeks was obviously paying attention. He had to match unbeaten Geronimo Navarro on each possession. JoJo managed a near-perfect game, engineering scoring drives on 7 of 8 possessions. (The eighth was an end-of-game kneel down!) As a result, the Texans rolled to a 49-35 victory in a pivotal District 13-4A, Division 2 game. “JoJo completed 84 percent of his passes; he was absolutely spot-on,” says Head Coach Doug Warren. For the game, JoJo was an efficient 21 of 25 for 336 yards and six touchdowns from 24, 55, 27, 29, 14 and 6 yards as Wimberley took leads of 20-14 at halftime and 34-21 after three quarters, moving to 8-1 and 3-0 heading into a bye week. The Texans close the regular season at Hondo on Nov. 10.
At 6-4, 220 pounds, JoJo has size and the arm strength, which translates to success on the baseball diamond too. As of now, he’s headed to Texas State on a baseball scholarship as all-state corner infielder and right-handed pitcher. But he hasn’t ruled out college football. The holder of an A/B average, he’s recognized on the school’s honor roll and is a member of Young Lives, FCA, Meals on Wheels, Hands4Help, and mentors elementary school children.
“JoJo is a high character young man, who is very good in the classroom and an even better teammate,” says Coach Warren. “He never gets too high or low; he’s an even keel kid who lives in the moment and doesn’t let things get to him. His success can be attributed to good decision making and the ability to remain level-headed.”
Class 3-A: Luke Cantu, Sr., Quarterback, Poth
If you watched Poth dismiss District 15-3A Division II rival Karnes City 35-2 last week, you probably had no idea that the Pirates’ senior quarterback was midway through his first year at the position. Luke Cantu was a running back (965 yards and 13 TDs a year ago) who won a battle for the position and is making Coach Jeff Luna look pretty wise. In last week’s win, the two-way signal caller completed a highly-efficient 15 of 20 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns and rushed 11 times for 128 yards and another score. Luke was responsible for all five of the Pirates’ TDs. That’s the way the season has been going; only an early-season loss to Union City (TN) mars the 7-1 (3-0 district) record. To date, Luke has both thrown and run for 26 TDs, 13 passing and 13 rushing, while accounting for 1,719 total yards. According to Coach Luna, he gets better and more comfortable running the Pirates’ shotgun spread offense every week. This Friday, Nixon-Smiley comes to town.
Poth will need four or five young men to account for all of Cantu’s accomplishments. A 3.98 GPA student, he’s an all-district catcher on the baseball team and proving that catchers can run, he participates in all the relays in track. He’s also a member of the student council, National Honor Society, and Beta Club and is highly active in youth activities at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.
“Luke is such a humble person,” says Coach Luna. “On and off the football field, he leads by example. He has worked so hard to become a quarterback and he’s totally dedicated to his craft. He was so raw but he worked on his footwork which has made him difficult to contain. His eyes are always focused downfield and invariably he’ll hit the open receiver.”
Class 2-A: Zach Gomez Sr., Quarterback, La Villa
To say Zach Gomez has been a blessing since arriving at La Villa this season would be an understatement. When his mother changed jobs necessitating a move from nearby Mercedes, Zach found himself in a new school and with a new team. Last weekend Zach made a seamless transition as La Villa’s starting quarterback, producing a memorable Valley performance with nine rushing touchdowns (no that’s not a misprint) and 313 yards on 20 carries in the Cardinals’ wild 59-40 win over Freer in a District 16-2A, Division 1 showdown. “Zach has brought a positive attitude to La Villa,” says Head Coach Daniel Perez. Zach’s 26-yard TD and two-point conversion late in the second quarter gave the Cards a 34-26 lead at halftime. They never looked back. In addition to his nine scores (7, 59, 18, 18, 32, 6, 17, 5, and 5 yards), he hit on 13 of 18 passes for 274 yards. That’s 587 total offensive yards! After starting 0-5, La Villa is suddenly 3-5 overall and 2-0 in district, hosting Santa Maria this Friday.
Since transferring to La Villa, Zach has blended beautifully in his new community. He maintains a 3.75 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society and DECA. He competes in sprints, jumps (triple and long), and throws (shot put) for the track and field team. He also plays basketball and volunteers at a local food bank.
“We’re a young team with only five seniors on our 30-man roster and Zach’s energy, enthusiasm and football IQ has been a positive influence for everyone,” raves Coach Perez. “His teammates follow his lead and Zach encourages and motivates them. He’s like having another coach on the field.”
Private Schools: Kai Money, Sr., Quarterback/Kicker, Brownsville St. Joseph Academy
It’s hard for anyone to remember when Kai Money wasn’t the Brownsville St. Joseph quarterback. He was a 14-year-old, 140-pound freshman when the Bloodhounds’ coaches decided to give him a shot—on opening night in 2014. Kai hit on 28 of 50 passes for 329 yards and five touchdowns that night. He has been behind center ever since. The super-quick 6-0, 175-pounder has this year’s Bloodhounds at 5-3 and 1-0 in TAPPS district play after a solid 45-21 win over San Antonio Central Catholic last week. He rushed for 174 yards on 17 carries including a two-yard TD in the third quarter. He also completed 11 of 21 passes for three scores (15, 26, and 35 yards). And if that wasn’t enough, he also kicked a 34-yard field goal. The son of former Rice quarterback Phillip Money, Kai has enjoyed a spectacular career at SJA, throwing for 56 TDs and running for 53 in his first three seasons. This year, he has hit on 93 of 151 through the air, piling up 1,564 yards and 24 TDs. He also has 111 carries for 1,013 yards (that’s 9.1 yards per carry) and six more TDs. The Bloodhounds face their most serious challenge of this season this weekend: a 10-hour bus ride to take on the state’s top-ranked private school, Fort Worth All Saints’ Episcopal on Saturday.
Kai does it all for St. Joseph, spending the rest of the year playing basketball and soccer and running track. His best sport, however, may be surfing; that’s his dad’s business. He owns a spectacular 3.85 GPA, which lands him right at the top of his class. Several Ivy League schools, including Princeton, Yale, and Brown, are on his list.
“Kai is just a phenomenal kid,” says Coach Tino Villarreal, who was the offensive coordinator when Kai was a freshman. “He’s an amazing quarterback but an even better person and leader. He pays attention to every detail and has all of the qualities that the great quarterbacks possess. He has a way of just taking over a game. If they give him the pass, he’ll win it with his arm. If they take it away, he wins it with his legs.”
Nominate your elite student-athlete at PlayeroftheWeek.com
Students recognized by Ford Motor Company, Texas Ford dealers and the Built FordTough media advisory board as Players of the Week excel in three categories:
- Individual performance on the field, including significant game statistics
- Contribution to the team’s success through individual leadership abilities
- Performance off the field, including academic success and good community citizenship
Additionally, fans can catch all the action on Fox Sports Southwest. The network is again teaming with Ford and Texas Ford dealers to keep up with award winners through its weekly television show. Each week, television crews will travel to communities across Texas, spotlighting these players who excel on the field, in the classroom and in their communities. The half-hour Built Ford Tough Texas High School Football Player of the Week program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. for 12 weeks.
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