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Corona’s Victoria Aguilar is the IE Varsity Player of the Year – Press Enterprise - FlagSpin

Corona’s Victoria Aguilar is the IE Varsity Player of the Year – Press Enterprise

Corona senior quarterback and defensive back Victoria Aguilar has been honored as the inaugural IE Varsity Girls Flag Football Player of the Year, she is pictured standing against a Corona High School mural on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

CORONA — Jim Bowers was on the hunt for a quarterback the moment he became Corona High School’s first girls flag football coach.

Bowers needed an athlete with the skills to play the position, as well as someone who could handle his demanding coaching style.

“On the first day of tryouts, I told the 76 players that showed up exactly what to expect,” said Bowers, who also coaches the wrestling teams at Corona. “I told them, ‘I’m going to push you to your limits and beyond. But if you stick it out, I promise you will be champions.’”

Victoria Aguilar, a senior who is the starting shortstop on the school’s softball team, welcomed those words with open arms.

Aguilar displayed mental toughness and shined on both sides in flag football’s inaugural season as an official California Interscholastic Federation sport. Aguilar completed 65.2% of her passes for 3,879 yards and 74 touchdowns and also rushed for 963 yards and nine touchdowns in 25 games for the Panthers. And Aguilar also was a ballhawk on defense, racking up a state-best 21 interceptions and another 33 passes defensed.

Corona finished the season with a 19-6 record and went undefeated in capturing the first Big VIII League championship.

For those reasons, Aguilar has been selected as the first IE Varsity Girls Flag Football Player of the Year.

Aguilar has a deep love for football, which she attributes to the backyard games played with her older brothers and other relatives at family gatherings. Aguilar wanted to play tackle football when she was a younger, but her father was concerned about her safety. The introduction of flag football gave Aguilar the chance to live out her childhood dreams .

“To be honest, I was jumping up and down when I heard about it and found out Corona was going to have a team my senior year,” she said.

At the first day of tryouts, Bowers recognized Aguilar had the athleticism and the arm strength needed to be the team’s quarterback.

“She could play any position we put her at, but her arm was the strongest. She just had to learn the mechanics of throwing a football,” Bowers said. “What I loved most is how she listened and asked questions. I knew within a month, she could handle this responsibility.”

Bowers is known for his intensity as a wrestling coach and that carried over as a flag football coach. There were ups and downs during the season, but Aguilar appreciated Bowers’ passion for the game and knack for getting the best from his athletes. She even joined the girls wrestling team this year.

“Working with him has been some of the best moments of my life,” Aguilar said. “Seeing how important this was for him made it that more important for me.”

Aguilar can be her own worst critic, but Bowers always was there with the right words to lift the spirits of his quarterback. Aguilar threw an interception on her first pass against Norco in the Big VIII League championship game, but she bounced back and finished that game with six touchdown passes and two interceptions on defense to lead the Panthers to a 44-19 victory.

“She just continued to believe and stuck with the plan,” Bowers said. “By the end of the season, she was making every throw in the book.”

Aguilar is proud to be part of group of the trailblazers who helped introduce the sport this season. She currently plans to enroll at Chaffey College and play softball there next season. That does not mean her time with flag football has ended, however.

“I know I’m going to miss my girls and my coaches,” she said. “If I get the chance, I would love to come back and coach with Bowers.”

IE VARSITY COACH OF THE YEAR

Rusty Bailey, Riverside Poly

Bailey, who served two terms as the mayor of Riverside, took on the challenge of starting the girls flag football program at Riverside Poly and guided the Bears through a phenomenal first season of existence. Riverside Poly finished the season with a 21-4 record and captured the Ivy League championship in unbeaten fashion. The Bears suffered all four losses during the first three weeks of the season, but the team bounced back and closed the season with a 13-game winning streak. Poly averaged 24.8 points per game this season and scored at least 20 points in each game during that final win streak.

Rusty Bailey, former mayor of Riverside, leads a practice as he coaches Poly High School’s inaugural girls flag football team on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, in Riverside. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

IE VARSITY FIRST TEAM

Victoria Aguilar, Corona, Sr.

Julia Bailey, Riverside Poly, Sr.

Angelina Briano, Roosevelt, Sr.

Jasmin Campos, Ramona, Sr.

Angel Castro, Corona, Sr.

Akayla Chaple, Ramona, Sr.

Ayana Goodwin, Ramona, Jr.

Ava Liaga, Corona, Fr.

Fia Liaga, Corona, Jr.

Josie Ray, Norco, Sr.

Alexandra Sanchez, Hillcrest, Jr.

Aryana Santa Maria, Canyon Springs, Sr.

Ryann Sigloch, Riverside Poly, Sr.

Lotolelei Sivas, Roosevelt, So.

Jaylin Young, Norco, Sr.

Addison Zyber, Riverside Poly, Sr.

 

In the doubleheader Hillcrest High School home game against Ramona High School on Tuesday, October 10, 2023, Akayla Chaple (#15), the quarterback for Ramona girls’ flag football team, throws the ball to wide receiver, Ava Wallace (#22). (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

IE VARSITY SECOND TEAM

Jazmine Benson, San Gorgonio, Jr.

Tanya Castro, Vista del Lago, Sr.

Sophia Gonzalez, North, Jr

Kaleayah Marshall, Canyon Springs, So.

Kylie Martinez, Corona, Jr.

Diana Najera, Ramona, So.

Alexandra Olmedo, Centennial, Jr.

Dalia Ortega, Norte Vista, So.

Nayomi Pryor, Hillcrest, Jr.

Yazmyn Pryor, Hillcrest, Jr.

Madison Rodriguez, King, Sr.

Madison Saruwatari, Santiago, Jr.

Jolena Cerda, Riverside Poly, Sr.

Mya Arriola, Norco, So.

Madison Padron, Roosevelt, Sr.

Isabella Tejada, Canyon Springs, Jr.

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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