Soledad Aztecs wide receiver Victor Ruano finished last season with 15 receptions and 227 receiving yards with two touchdowns. The now-junior player has been working with coaches during the offseason to become one of the team’s leaders this year. (Arnold Bernal)

SOLEDAD — Last year the Soledad Aztecs football team had a magical season, but when wide receiver Victor Ruano reflected about it, he knew that his sophomore performance on the field could have been better.

“I feel like I could have done more,” Ruano said. “I know it’s not an individual sport. It’s a team sport. I’m glad I was able to help my team accomplish a lot, but I’m not satisfied with my performance.”

Soledad had their share of talent at the skill position last season, and although Ruano felt he should have got the ball more, he understood why he didn’t get it at times.

“Last year, I knew I was open, but when you have playmakers like Daniel and Jaden, it’s hard since there’s only one football to go around,” he said. “I feel like I need to work on my route running.”

He finished second on the Aztecs team with 15 receptions and 227 receiving yards with two touchdowns.

Ruano’s football journey started at the early age of 6. He was one of those kids who had tons of energy, so his mom wanted him to get all that energy out. 

“When I was little, I was very active,” he said. “My mom put me in football so I can calm down. And when I got my first tackle, I was like, this was fun. I really love the team side of the sport.”

Going into his junior season, Ruano expects to move into the top wide receiver and be one of the cornerstones on the defensive side of the ball. With the Aztecs losing a lot of seniors from last year’s team, he understands that he will have to step up this year.

Last season the Aztecs led by their defense, which was one of the best in CCS. This year, Ruano is preparing himself to possibly call the plays on defense.

“Andy and I know coach Eric’s defense really well,” he said. “We spend a lot of time talking about it. Even on offense day, we’ll still be talking about the defense. I’m in a spot where I’m able to read an offense and put our defense in a great position.”

Even though the Aztecs had lost a lot of key seniors, Ruano believes in one position that is key to any team — and that’s the offensive line.

“Our offensive line is the heart of the team,” he said. “This year, I think our line is going to be more skilled and being able to communicate better than last year.”

For all the excitement of next season, one thing still looms over Ruano: not making smart plays that affected his time on the field the previous season. But Ruano says he has changed, and that he’s been working on it with the coaches during the offseason.

“One thing I realized with Coach Devin is I need to brush stuff away,” he said. “If I make a mistake on one play, I can’t let that get to me. I can’t let one play determine the game for me. Especially since I’m going to be a leader on this team.”

As one of the best trash talkers in the area, Ruano knows that he has to have more self-control and let his play do the talking.

“I feel like I could do less talking and show out more on the field,” he said. “I want to be silent now and let my play show for itself.”

With everything to prove when Ruano needs to refocus, he thinks of his mom and grandma. Their will is why he keeps going.

“My biggest inspiration are my mom and grandma,” he said. “Growing around them, they were hard-working and independent, and that is what I try to be every day. When I’m on the field, I just think about how they wouldn’t stop and they wouldn’t quit.”

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Jason Gallardo is the sports reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers high school sports for South Monterey County.


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