Outstanding Defender Austin Fennacy
Qualifications: The 6-foot-3 goalkeeper made experienced and talented team even better with his play in the cage, where he stopped 67% of the shots he faced to help Bears go 29-3 and capture Tri-River Athletic Conference and Central Section Division I championships. Was named TRAC Goalie of the Year and All-Valley co-MVP of the D-I tournament. "When you have that many seniors who know how to play defense, it's easy to look good. But he played mistake-free," said Clovis co-coach Matt Berry, who watched Fennacy make 12 saves during Buchanan's 12-5 defeat of the Cougars in the section final. "He blocked everything he needed to get to, is a great passer, and came up with a few saves every game he shouldn't have. He controlled games on the defensive end by himself."
Making his mark: Fennacy, who split time with Taylor Smith last season, took firm control of the job this year, finishing with 268 saves (an average of 11.9 per game), 16 assists and 19 steals. He posted shutouts in 20 of 90 quarters played and allowed an average of 5.8 goals per game.
Gang of brothers: Fennacy was one of Buchanan's nine seniors, eight of whom have played together since they were in seventh grade. Tight-knit group turned in arguably the most dominant performance by a section boys water polo team in the past 10 years. The Bears outscored opponents 426-196 (13.3-6.1 average) and were even better while going undefeated against section opposition, outscoring those teams 230-71 (16.4-5.1). Buchanan outscored D-I runner-up Clovis 37-14 in three games. "We spent six years doing everything together, and it manifested in the pool," Fennacy said. "It gave us an ability to communicate and know each other's strengths and weaknesses."
Next step: Fennacy hasn't committed to a college, but plans to walk on at a four-year school. Buchanan co-coach Dave Pickford said whatever school Fennacy lands at is getting a diamond in the rough. "Sometimes guys no one has ever heard of get exposed to the college game and really develop," Pickford said. "They show up, redshirt a year, and by the time they are a junior, they are starting. He's got the skills to do that."
Coach says: "I think he's one of the best goalies in the state. He's got great legs, a great sense for the ball, great reactions and he's an elite-level passer. He consistently makes the exceptional pass where he's throwing the ball 20 yards down the pool right on their hands. And he wasn't just making passes to wide open guys, he's squeeze the ball into tight spaces right where it needed to be." -- Buchanan co-coach Nic Maes.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6103, firstname.lastname@example.org or @NickG_FB on Twitter.