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Napa Valley Up & Comers: Last shots for Rojas, Boloyan, Feldstein
Up & Comers

Napa Valley Up & Comers: Last shots for Rojas, Boloyan, Feldstein

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The Register sports staff has turned its attention to the Napa County student-athletes who are returning to play sports in 2020-21.

Per the youth sports guidelines issued by the California Department of Public Health on Dec. 14, the first season of 2020-21 high school sports are now scheduled to begin Jan. 25 at the earliest. That date will be reevaluated by Jan. 4, however, depending on a county’s color tier of COVID-19 risk. The rest of the sports are slated to start in March.

With that in mind, we continue our Up & Comers series, which highlights rising stars and players to watch for when their long waits are finally over.

Our 72nd edition features Ava Boloyan of American Canyon, Issac Rojas of Napa High, and Benjamin Feldstein of Vintage.

Issac Rojas

School: Napa High

Class of: 2021

Sport: Football

The linebacker has gotten bigger and stronger since leading the Grizzlies in tackles last year.

“Issac is going to be our guy on defense; I’m hoping so,” said interim head coach Askari Adams, who was the defensive coordinator last season. “He came into this offseason with that mentality and he’s grown. He has a motor that won’t stop and he loves football. He’s a guy I can’t wait to see on the field, and that’s why I’m hoping we have a season. He’s our leader on defense and I just want to get him in some pads and get him out there.”

Adams plans to keep using the platooning system the program used last season, with all but a handful of Grizzlies playing on one side of the ball. He said Rojas wishes he could be in that handful.

“He’s trying to get me to play him at running back, too, but that’s not gonna happen. That’s a guy you want to be fresh in the fourth quarter,” the coach said. “He was durable for us last year. He got in the weight room this offseason. I think he put on like 15 pounds of muscle and he looks a lot bigger than he did last year. His mindset’s there, too.”

Ava Boloyan

School: American Canyon

Class of: 2021

Sport: Volleyball

The 5-foot-11 outside hitter, who also plays for Absolute Volleyball Club of San Rafael, has already committed to continue her volleyball career at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. next fall.

“Ava is a perfectionist and does not give up until she has accomplished the goal she set out for,” said American Canyon head coach Katy O’Brien. “She is unstoppable at the net and has really increased her volleyball IQ to become a more dynamic player. Moving into the next season, I expect Ava to play full rotation with her improved passing skills. She is also a great role model for the rest of our program both on the court and in the classroom.”

Boloyan will be only the second volleyball player from her 11-year-old high school to play for a four-year college. The first was 2019 graduate Cherisse “Raizel” Dimalanta, who played last fall for Hawaii Pacific University. Dimalanta plans to play this spring for Napa Valley College for first-year Storm head coach Chelsea Reilley, who was Justin-Siena’s head coach the last three seasons.

Benjamin Feldstein

School: Vintage

Class of: 2022

Sport: Track and field

He threw the shot put 34 feet, 8½ inches to finish second behind then-senior Dominic Smith at the Crushers’ final meet, March 11 against visiting Sonoma Valley, before the COVID-19 shutdown.

Head coach Dave Augustus said the junior has been working hard in the offseason by competing in virtual track meets and “is looking really strong going into the 2021 season.”

WATCH NOW: THE RISE OF ACTIVIST ATHLETES USING PLATFORMS FOR CHANGE

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Sports Reporter

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.

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