Lopez, Puga WDN Athletes of the Year

They have three CIF championship rings between them, all from different sports, but the manner by which they received them was similar.
Because of their commitment, work ethic and success, La Serna’s Lee Lopez and La Habra’s Petey Puga are the 2007-2008 Daily News High School Girl and Boy Athletes of the Year.
Among Lopez’s accomplishments this year were winning the CIF Southern Section and the CIF State individual golf championships.
Puga was a key factor in the success of teams that won CIF-SS championships in both football and soccer.
Lopez, a senior who carried a 4.0 grade point average and will attend Long Beach State on scholarship, was named the Miramonte League Most Valuable Player after winning the individual championship at the league finals.
It marked the fourth consecutive season (the first three in the Suburban League) Lopez has won both her league’s individual championship and MVP honors.
Qualifying again for the southern section playoffs, she reached the finals where she shot 4-under par 69 on the Diamond Bar Golf Course to tie with Los Altos’ Tiffany Lua, then birdied the first playoff hole to win the championship.
Lopez advanced to her fourth consecutive CIF-SS regional playoff at the SCGA (Southern California Golf Association) Golf Course in Murrieta, where she finished with a 4-over par 72 for a tie for fourth place and earned a berth in the state championship.
Three days later, at Poppy Hills GC at Pebble Beach, Lopez scored a 2-under par 70 to edge Torrance High School’s Jane Rah by two strokes to win the state title.
In January, she was named winner of the SCPGA’s 2007 Toyoto Cup Player of the Year, and was acknowledged as a Junior Amateur Golf Scholar (JAGS) Silver Award winner for excellence in the classroom as well as on the course.
Puga, who carried a 3.8 GPA his senior year, earned all-CIF honors in both football and soccer.
Last fall, the 5-foot-10, 165-pounder’s fingerprints were all over the Highlanders’ football program that was 13-0 overall and 4-0 atop the Freeway League (game against Fullerton was cancelled because of bad air quality due to the devastating southland fires).
As a tough wide receiver, he had 49 catches for 819 yards (16.7 yards per catch) and scored nine touchdowns.
“A clutch, big play receiver,” coach Frank Mazzotta said. “Definitely one of the best around. Can go deep or across the middle. Fearless.”
On special teams, Puga had five punt or kickoff returns for touchdowns, three of them in the playoffs and two of those against Ocean View in the opening round.
As a punter, his 36.9-yard average does not adequately explain the effectiveness of his “outstanding hang time and great pin-point corner kicks,” according to Mazzotta.
As perhaps the area’s most consistent placekicker, Puga made five of six field goals, with a long of 45 yards.
“He’s everything you’d want in a football player,” Mazzotta said.
Last winter, he was a defender deluxe as La Habra made it back-to-back CIF soccer championships and posted the school’s best record in the sport, 26-4-1.
Puga’s contributions were critical to the Highlanders recording seven shutouts and holding opponents to one or fewer goals in 24 of 31 games.
“He was the glue of the defense, the reason we were so successful,” coach Steve Aanderud said. “While most people focused on our offense, our defense was just as impressive. We wouldn’t have done as well without Petey.”
Puga is undecided about where he will continue his education and athletic careers.

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