Bogalusa resident Arata wins Lester Latino Award

Published 8:57 am Monday, January 19, 2015

Pope John Paul II senior Will Arata won the Lester Latino Award when it was announced at the team’s banquet, which was held last Saturday at the school’s gym.

The award goes to the senior who had the best career for the Jaguars.

“I’m really proud of my four years at Pope John Paul,” Arata said. “I’m really glad the coaches decided that I am eligible enough to win this award. I think it’s a good model of my hard work that I put in at the school. I want to thank my parents for driving me an hour every day each way to and from school. I know it was hard on them and I just want to dedicate everything I do to them.”

The Bogalusa resident said he was a little bit surprised when he found out he won the award because he said there are many good players on the team.

“I feel I’m a good player, but I never thought of myself as good enough to receive the award,” Arata said.

Arata played defensive end, tight end and punted for Pope John Paul II. He also returned a kick 40 yards in his final game.

Arata did it all this season.

Defensively, he made 48 tackles while adding six sacks and a quarterback hurry.

Offensively, Arata caught 13 passes for 139 yards (10.7 yards per catch) and a touchdown. He also completed his only pass attempt for 20 yards this season.

On special teams, Arata punted 43 times, and averaged 27.7 yards. He had a long of 53.

Daryl Thomas, who was in his first year as the Jaguars’ head coach after being an assistant for the previous two, said it was well deserved.

“He worked hard,” Thomas said. “The coaches voted on all of our awards. He had a good career at Pope whether he was playing at defensive end or tight end. He was real good leader for our team. He was one of our biggest leaders on and off the field.”

Besides the Leter Latino Award, Arata was a first-team All-District punter in the 7/8-2A League.

The Jaguars had a rough 2014 campaign, going 1-9.

Arata is now competing for the Jaguars’ soccer team, which was 5-10-1 at press time.

The Division III team has played a difficult schedule.

The Jaguars have played four Division I teams in Northshore, Hammond, Covington and Archbishop Rummel, and lost those contests.

They’ve also gone against some of the top ranked teams in Division II and III.

In Division II, they lost, 6-0, to Vandebilt Catholic, which is tied for the top spot with East Jefferson in the Louisiana High School Soccer Coaches’ Association Poll.

The team lost to St. Michael the Archangel, the seventh-ranked club, 2-0. PJP was also defeated by Lakeshore, the No. 5 team, 7-2.

The Jags have played against the Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 10th-ranked teams in Division III.

Pope John Paul II lost to top ranked Northlake Christian School, 5-0, second ranked Newman, 3-0. They tied No. 5 St. Louis, 1-1, and lost a close one to No. 10 Haynes Academy, 2-1.

Arata, who is a second-year captain, has also shown versatility on the pitch as well, playing two positions on that team.

He’s a holding midfielder and defender.

One of Arata’s highlights in soccer this year is scoring the fourth goal in a road game against St. Thomas Aquinas in a 4-2 win.

Arata’s goal made the score 4-2.