With the 2019-2020 school year in our rear-view mirror, The Register sports staff has turned its attention to the Napa County student-athletes that are returning to play sports in 2020-21.
Per announcements from the California Interscholastic Federation and North Coast Section in late July, the fall season for high school sports in the 2020-21 school year is now scheduled to begin in December and January with the rest of the sports slated to start in February and March to help stop the community spread of the coronavirus.
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 43rd edition features Kyla Martin of American Canyon, Connor Ross of Napa and Seth Morrison of Justin-Siena.
School: American Canyon
Class of: 2023
She was named All-Napa County Newcomer of the Year after leading the fifth-place Wolves with 7 goals. She also made the All-Vine Valley Athletic League Second Team and received Honorable Mention on the Prep2Prep 2019-20 North Coast Section Team.
“Kyla has been our biggest threat so far,” head coach Travis Behn said of Martin in late December, after he had brought her up from the junior varsity. “After she scored five goals in a JV game, I moved her up and she scored three goals in her first varsity game. She’s a young player who is learning, but she’s had so much growth since last season.”
Behn said he was stepping away from coaching high school soccer after last season, having coached the American Canyon boys before taking over the girls. He guided won a Solano County Athletic Conference title with each program.
Class of: 2022
Ross is a “star in the making,” according to Napa High baseball head coach Jason Chatham, and after taking one look at the numbers he put up in the spring it’s not hard to see why Chatham holds him in such high regard.
Ross was at or near the top of nearly every offensive category for the Grizzlies in their COVID-19-shortened season that ended in March after only five games. He led the team with a .533 batting average, was tied for the team lead in RBI with 5 and was second on the team in hits with 8 and doubles with 2.
Additionally, his on-base percentage of .562 was second-best on the team while his slugging percentage of .666 was third on the team (min. 15 plate appearances).
Ross also occasionally steps up as a pitcher for the Grizzlies. He had a 1-0 record in the spring after pitching an inning of relief in Napa’s comeback 7-6 win over St. Helena.
Ross spent most of his freshman season playing for the Grizzlies JV squad but jumped up to the varsity towards the end of the season. It now appears he’ll be a mainstay of the varsity program from here on out.
“Ross is a super competitive kid with a knack for coming up clutch,” Chatham said. “He has all the tools and can make all the plays. … My favorite thing about him is that he believes he will win every pitch of every at bat. He doesn’t give an inch. And his passion for the game is infectious. He is also very good on the mound, with a fastball that moves quite a bit and an aggressive mentality.”
Class of: 2021
Sports: Football, track and field
Morrison is an emerging athlete who took a big step forward as a junior last year for the Braves.
The speedy 5-10, 155-pound wide receiver held a supporting role among the Braves deep crop of receivers and other offensive weapons, tallying 9 receptions for 100 yards in six games. But with the top three offensive producers now gone to graduation, Morrison will be in line for a much increased role alongside classmate Noah Young.
Morrison also recorded an interception last season, one of only seven Braves players to do so.
As a sprinter with the Braves track and field team, Morrison was a stud at the freshman/sophomore prior to jumping up to varsity this past spring.
At the lower level, Morrison helped the Braves 4x100-meter relay team to an undefeated season capped off with a first-place finish at the VVAL Championships in 2019. He also won the league title in the long jump with a mark of 18-feet, 6-inches, and finished sixth in the finals of the 100.
For the varsity team in the spring, Morrison was slated to compete in the 100, long jump 4x100 before the season was cut short.
Morrison has proven he has talent. Now he just needs more of an opportunity to show it.
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Contact Gus via phone at 707-304-9372 or email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustGusMorris.
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