Soccer: Leading the charge – DeLuna guides Bulls into second postseason

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, March 22, 2017
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After playing soccer for several years, Efrain DeLuna left the sport his freshman year to concentrate on football.

When Bridgeport started its program, DeLuna ended his two-year hiatus to rejoin the sport.

“At first it was hard staying in shape. The running is different. You’re running most of the time,” DeLuna said.

GIVING IT A KICK – Efrain DeLuna leads the Bulls in goals as they head to the playoffs for the second time. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

After taking last year to adjust, DeLuna has turned into the Bulls’ offensive leader. In District 3-4A play, he’s delivered timely goals that helped pave the way for Bridgeport’s second league title in as many years. He had seven goals in nine games.

“I had a slow start. I wanted to give it my all for my team,” DeLuna said. “When district came around I started scoring a lot.

“I didn’t expect to be the top scorer for the team.”

DeLuna and the Bulls will start the playoffs at 6 p.m. Friday with a 4A Region I bi-district game against Brownwood at Mineral Wells.

Last year, the Bulls featured Uriel Betancourt on the front line. The dangerous Betancourt scored more than 20 goals.

DeLuna played midfield mostly and earned honorable mention all-district.

After the graduation of Betancourt, DeLuna moved up to the front and has shined.

“He’s been a major force for us,” said Bridgeport coach Ben Parks. “He’s a lot different than Uriel but he’s doing just as good of a job.”

Most of DeLuna’s goals have come in big moments. The biggest perhaps was a last minute goal against Decatur in the team’s first meeting to even the score in a draw. The point earned by the goal proved pivotal in deciding the district championship.

He also scored a goal just two minutes into the league title game with Decatur March 10.

“There’s not been a lot of goals when we were up 3-0 or 4-0,” Parks said. “Nearly all his goals have been when the pressure is there.”

DeLuna is not new to having to deliver under pressure. He has been the Bulls’ placekicker in football since his sophomore year.

“Other than quarterback there’s not a position where there’s as much pressure as kicker,” Parks said.

While his scoring has helped put the Bulls into the playoffs as the top seed from 3-4A, DeLuna is quick to spread the credit.

“I have 10 other guys out there helping,” DeLuna said. “I’m just one person.”

As the playoffs start, DeLuna is hoping for a long playoff run. He’s not ready to leave the pitch again.

“I love playing soccer,” DeLuna said.

“Last year’s playoff run was not good enough. We know we need to be even better.”

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