The American Canyon High boys water polo team has two lopsided wins, both in all-important Solano County Athletic Conference play.

But the Wolves also have seven lopsided losses.

“It’s been a tough season,” second-year head coach Astin Sparks said. “As a coach, you are always looking for success. If you’re looking at it in wins and losses, then no, we have not been very successful as a team. This year, however, was not based on wins and losses. It was based on growth.”

The Wolves have two fourth-year varsity players in seniors Elijah Antolin and Justin Bautista, four third-year varsity players in goalie Duncan Applegarth and fellow juniors John Falcon, Zander Lipari and Juan Madrigal, and a second-year varsity player, junior Nathan Banks, who is their top scorer.

“Nathan Banks has been a star on this team,” Sparks said. “He has the arm and the brains to take him very far. There are lots of times after he scores that I look at my team and just go ‘Did he really just do that?’ He has maintained his three-goals-per-game average all season long and doesn’t have any indication of stopping his momentum.”

The seven veterans have been clicking more and more with the eight newcomers to the American Canyon varsity – juniors Glen Garduce, Fabian Moreno and Andy Pitt, sophomores Josh Mora, Aiden Callejo and Alec Applegarth, and freshmen Shannon McClinton and Thomas Glenn.

American Canyon (2-7, 2-2 SCAC) defeated Fairfield 8-1 on the road and routed visiting Bethel 16-5 for its two conference wins late last month.

“We have been successful because as a team we have grown and matured about the sport of water polo,” said Sparks. “We have connected better as a team inside and outside of the pool and that, I believe, makes us successful.”

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Andy Wilcox is a sportswriter-photographer for the Napa Valley Register. He's had similar roles in Walnut Creek, Grass Valley, Auburn, Tracy and Patterson. He grew up in Ohio. His wife, Laura, is a pastry chef. He also enjoys playing guitar and piano.