Two former players from junior college powerhouse Cerritos College were killed Saturday as they trekked toward Kansas Wesleyan University, where both had accepted scholarships.
Defender Carlos Ornellas (South Gate/Warren HS), 21, and midfielder Eddie Valencia (Los Angeles/Wilson HS), 20, died following a one-car accident early Saturday near the Utah-Colorado border, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.
Teammate Briant Reyes (Downey/Downey HS), 21, suffered minor injuries to his arms and legs in the crash and was released from a Utah hospital later Saturday.
“It's been very difficult,” Cerritos coach Benny Artiaga told the newspaper. “Our sophomores are in a really bad emotional state.”
All three played for the Falcons the past two seasons -- Valencia and Reyes were All-South Coast Conference selections -- and were set to start their careers this month at Kansas Wesleyan, an NAIA school that has recruited heavily in Southern California.
“I think we are all in a state of shock right now, trying to take it all in,” Coyotes head coach Mike Dibbini said in a posting on the school's website. “Carlos and Eddie were great kids, great players and great students. Their loss is not only a loss for the soccer program, but the entire university.”
A Facebook page has been set up to honor Ornellas and Valencia.