Also honored on Tuesday was junior lineman Josh Bongiovanni, who received the Weeks Cup Scholar Athlete Award. They received their awards on Tuesday at a luncheon hosted by the Tracy Breakfast Lions and the Tracy Rotary Club at the Tracy Community Center.
Cox came up to the varsity team at the end of the 2009 season, started as a junior last year and was an all-purpose player during his senior year, returning kickoffs, gaining rushing yards, as one of the Bulldogs’ main pass receivers and as a defensive back.
He said that he’s humbled to become part of Bulldog history as his name is added to the perpetual trophy.
“We had a couple people this year that I would expect could also win the award,” he said. “It wasn’t written out as it has been in the last couple of seasons.”
Playing football since age 8, when he started with the Tracy Raiders, Cox said his love for the game kept him motivated to do well in all four of his seasons at Tracy High. To be on a team with a 90-year history provided even more inspiration.
“It’s cool to be part of something that’s bigger than me,” he said. “Football is the most fun and the most exciting game there is. It teaches you life lessons.”
Tracy Head Coach Matt Shrout said Cox was the clear choice for the award.
“Nobody contributed more. You might have had more yards or more tackles, but as far as an on-the-field leader, he was the guy,” Shrout said, adding that the last game of the season against Franklin, Cox insisted on playing even after surgery that week on an injured thumb. “You can’t deny a guy like that something like this. He deserves it.”
Don Yerian, chairman of the Peter B. Kyne Committee, said that athletic ability is a big part of the award, but any player chosen would have to show leadership, community service and academic strength to be the top choice.
“When you meet all of these criteria then you really, truly have the outstanding football player,” Yerian said. He added that while Tracy had a rough start to its season, going 0-7 before beating Chavez, Bear Creek, and Franklin, the last three games showed that the Bulldog team was determined to finish strong.
The Bear Creek game in particular made an impression because the final score of 63-62 set a record for the most points scored in one game by a Bulldog varsity football team. It’s the most total points scored in a Tracy High varsity football game, and Cal-Hi Sports reported that Bear Creek’s 62 points ties the state record for the most points scored by a losing team.
“You not only had heart for the season, you had tremendous heart for that game,” Yerian told the team. “That shows me that you kept working, you kept striving, you kept trying to do a good job, and you did.”
In presenting the Weeks Cup Scholar-Athlete Award, Shrout said that Bongiovanni isn’t the only player with a 4.0 grade-point average, but the number of advanced courses he takes sets him above the others. Shrout noted that 31 of the 37 players on the team roster at the end of the season have grades of 3.0 or better.
Bongiovanni said that the agricultural academy program he’s enrolled in is similar to International Baccalaureate in that the classes, including the science curriculum, are college-level courses. He said he values the opportunity to have a rigorous academic schedule, and is fortunate that he can also make time for a role on the football team.
“You need to do well in school to succeed in life. You have to balance those two lifestyles,” he said. “You’ve got to love football to play football and balance out the workload that comes with it.”
Also at Tuesday’s event, Tracy Breakfast Lions President Walt Gouveia made a donation of $5,079.48 to Tracy High’s athletic programs. The donation represents 60 percent of the proceeds from the snack bar at Wayne Schneider Stadium, where the Lions set up a barbecue and serve tri-tip sandwiches and hamburgers at Bulldog home games.