THSCA Academic All-State
Following are area selections for the Texas High School Coaches Association Academic All-State teams.
• First Team: Graham Traylor, Beeville; Cole Strauss, Shiner; David Ledbetter, Victoria West; Aaron Chumchal, Yoakum; Ryan Kvinta, Yoakum.
• Second Team: Jason Samaniego, Rice Consolidated; Cullen Wiese, Rice Consolidated; Ryan Rodriguez, Cuero; Billy Rodriguez Jr., Cuero; Weston Muschalek, Edna; Nathan Kozelsky, Flatonia; Weston Block, Karnes City; Austin Block, Karnes City; Steven Starnes, Karnes City; Brady Cejka, Shiner; Brandon Ellis, Victoria West; Ralph Gonzales, Victoria West; Marcus Hernandez, Victoria West; Garrett Rother, Victoria West; Shawn Brandt, Yoakum; Jakoby West, Yoakum.
• Honorable Mention: Roger Salazar, Beeville; Blake Reeve, Cuero; Ross Riemenschneider, Cuero; Hugo Cruces, Edna; Kristian Grifaldo, Edna; Danny Fitzgerald, Tidehaven; Lucas Janysek, Karnes City; Chance Leal, Karnes City; Garrett Liska, Karnes City; Zack Pawelek, Karnes City, Philip Vaughan, Karnes City; Jace Chumchal, Shiner; Trenton Marler, Victoria West; Jonathan Vahalik, Victoria West; Jake Wallace, Victoria West; Dylan Otto, Weimar; Justin Rosenauer, Weimar; Troy Macha, Yoakum; Blake McCracken, Yoakum.
• First Team: Georgi Garza, Ganado.
• Second Team: Skylar Mitchell, Tidehaven, Lauren Hlavaty, Ganado, Abby Stanley, Ganado.
• Honorable Mention: Ashley Grahmann, Cuero; Caylin Toot, Cuero, Kerissa Wiley, Tidehaven; Katy Diaz, Ganado.
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
• Second Team: Dustin Metting, Yorktown.
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
• Elite: Briana Faas, Rice Consolidated.
• Second Team: Courtney Garcez, Karnes City; Dominique Garcez, Karnes City; Hailey Johnson, Karnes City.
• Honorable Mention: Ione Rodriguez, Calhoun; Marissa Marin, Calhoun.
ACADEMIC ALL-STATE QUALIFICATIONS
• Teams are selected by a point system that awards points for GPA, class rank and SAT or ACT score, which determines which team a student-athlete makes.
• Elite team is the highest, with first, second and honorable mention.
• Must be a senior with overall GPA of 92 or higher through first three years and first six weeks of senior year.
• Be a member of a team in good standing at time of nomination.
• Be of good moral character.
David Ledbetter was involved in a number of collisions from his middle linebacker position.
But none were more memorable than when he met head-on with Gregory-Portland running back Devin Bisby.
"If you hit him before he got a head of steam, it wasn't too bad," Ledbetter said. "Otherwise, you've got to go for the legs. There's no hitting him up high. He'll just slide right off you."
Ledbetter didn't hesitate to go after Bisby despite giving away 65 pounds, which was not unusual.
Ledbetter stands only 5-foot-9 and weighs maybe 150 pounds, but had 68 tackles and forced two fumbles during his senior season at Victoria West, while earning honorable mention All-District 30-4A honors.
"I like hitting people," Ledbetter said of his propensity to initiate contact.
Ledbetter hit more than opposing players during his high school career that began as a freshman at Memorial.
He also tackled his schoolwork and compiled a 3.89 grade point average and was named to the first team of the Texas High School Coaches Association's Academic All-State football team.
To be eligible for the team, athletes must be a senior with an overall GPA of 92 or above from their freshman year to mid-semester of their senior year, be a member of the team in good standing at the time of their nomination, and be of good moral character.
Along with Ledbetter, Beeville's Graham Traylor, Yoakum's Aaron Chumchal and Ryan Kvinta, and Shiner's Cole Strauss were named to the football first team.
Ganado's Georgi Garza was selected to the volleyball first team. Rice Consolidated's Briana Faas was named to the girls cross country elite team.
Ledbetter is also a member of the West powerlifting team and plans to participate in track and field in the spring.
But he comes by his love of football naturally.
Ledbetter's father, Scott, who coaches the girls golf team at West, coached on two state championship football teams while at Lewisville before moving to Victoria and coaching at Memorial.
"When I was real young, I would sit up in the stands with my mom," David Ledbetter recalled. "When I was a little older, I would be a ball boy and be down on the sideline with my dad."
Ledbetter played guard at Patti Welder Middle School before his size forced a move to linebacker in high school.
He played on the strong side as a sophomore, shifted to the weak side as a junior, before moving to the middle as a senior when Randy Perez took over as the defensive coordinator for the Warriors.
"The defense was completely different," Ledbetter said. "The little things changed. You still had to read your guards and you're still playing downhill. The reads were almost the same."
The highlight of Ledbetter's senior season was West's District 30-4A opener against Beeville at Memorial Stadium.
He led the team in tackles and the Warriors captured a 34-10 win.
West had a 4-1 record after the Beeville game, but finished 1-4 to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
"We started off real strong and I was optimistic," Ledbetter said. "Towards the end, we just dropped the ball."
Ledbetter made sure not to let his schoolwork suffer during the season, something his father and mother, Grace, wouldn't tolerate.
"They always stressed grades," he said. "Anything under a B was unacceptable and even then a B was iffy."
Ledbetter learned how to manage his time and when it was necessary to put in extra time studying.
"Sometimes you have to stay up and get it done," he said. "When you get back from a game at 2 in the morning and you've got an assignment due that Monday. You've just got to suck it up and do it."
Ledbetter hopes his willingness to do the work will give him the opportunity to earn an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in the fall.
"Almost everybody in my family has been in the military," he said. "I've always wanted to since I was a little kid."
Ledbetter's alternative plan is to use a ROTC scholarship and attend Texas A&M. Either way he wants to study mechanical engineering.
He figures being an all-state academic selection won't hurt in pursuit of his goal.
"This is great," Ledbetter said. "I knew I was probably going to get all-district. I didn't think I'd get all-state and first team at that."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.