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Brayon Rodriguez is Hart's lightning rod

Posted: January 30, 2014 9:00 p.m.
Updated: January 30, 2014 9:00 p.m.

Hart senior center midfielder Brayon Rodriguez leads the team with eight goals so far this season.

 

It’s about a half hour before practice is supposed to start at Hart High School.

A small group of soccer players begin going through the motions of setting up for the day.

Among that group is senior Hart Indians midfielder Brayon Rodriguez, who quietly gets ready to go to work.

He’s always one of the first ones there, teammates say. This his third year on varsity and his final high school season.

Rodriguez isn’t messing around.

“He puts in the hard work. He shows up early to practice. He helps set up,” says Riley Waldeck, a senior teammate of Rodriguez’s. “He’s always the one working hard, running all the way to the line. He’s going to bust his butt for his teammates and he just shows a strong work ethic in all that he does.”

This season, Rodriguez leads Hart with eight goals in addition to his three assists.

Without much fanfare, the 4.0 GPA student emerged as one of the best players in the Foothill League and the anchor of a red-hot Hart team.

The senior captain has helped Hart fire out to a 10-4-2 overall record and a 4-1 start in Foothill League play.

That puts Hart in first place by a five-point margin at the midway mark of league play. The team is well positioned for to claim its first league championship since 2008.

Rodriguez has been around for some frustratingly close calls in the meantime.

When he was playing on the freshman team, the Indians finished second place and missed out on a league crown by a single point.

Hart then finished second place again his sophomore year and third last year.

Rodriguez is sick of getting close.

“We lost two Foothill Leagues in a row,” he says. “I would say we were in the driver’s seat the last couple years, but we weren’t able to finish it.”

Rodriguez gets his ultra-competitive side partly from growing up in a household of four boys. He’s the second of four brothers who all grew up in Newhall. All of them play soccer.

The eldest brother, Uriel, was The Signal’s 2011 All-Santa Clarita Valley Player of the Year as a senior forward for Hart.

Uriel helped that Hart team advance to the CIF-Southern Section Division III quarterfinals for the first time since 1983.

“Seeing my brother what he accomplished made me want to do the same, even more,” Brayon says.

The third brother is Jeysen, who is a junior midfielder for Hart and the team’s second-leading scorer with six goals. A lot of his goals have come thanks in large part to the space created in the middle of the field by this brother.

Brayon says he learned a lot from his older brother, and that he tries to pass on some of the same lessons to Jeysen.

“He’s a great role model on and off the field,” Jeysen says. “He gives me some pointers when I mess up and it’s great playing with him.”

Together, the Rodriguez brothers have combined to score 14 of the team’s 35 total goals.

According to Hart head coach Adonay Jovel, Brayon is the one who makes the offense go, particularly with injuries to some key players up front.

Jovel has watched the senior continue to improve in the last three years.

“He’s a humble kid. He’s one of those guys who doesn’t think he’s too good to listen,” Jovel says. “He’s one of those guys who thinks he needs to learn more.”

Even coaches on the other sideline recognize his emerging talents.

Valencia High head coach Tony Scalercio, who also coached Brayon in club soccer last year, referred to Brayon as a “silent quarterback” on the field.

“He’s a very methodical, technical player,” Scalercio says. “He’s one of these guys that never complains, goes out there, does the job. But also, he’s an extremely talented player.”

Brayon isn’t the type of player who is looking for anyone to give him credit either.

He’s just the one who earns it.

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