Kristian Heptner scored against every high school defense thrown his way, maneuvering through forearms to the chest, elbows to the back and kicks to the shins.
Battered but unbowed, Heptner never broke stride.
In earning The Bee’s Boys Soccer Player of the Year honor, the Christian Brothers senior forward led the state in scoring with 44 goals. He led the region with 36 goals as a junior in 2013.
But the one defense he couldn’t crack in his lifetime, the one that helped mold him?
“My older sister, Alex,” Heptner explained, laughing. “When we were little, we’d play in the living room and she’d never let me win. She’d never let me even score, and I’d sit there and cry. I thank her for who I am as a player now. She made me better.”
Heptner grew to become the aggressor, working year-round to hone his skills. One of his youth coaches, Jacob Hunley, became his CBS coach.
“Kristian stood out as an 8-year-old player,” Hunley said. “He’s always been the same, and his personality and goal was to be the best. He’d emulate soccer stars like David Beckham. He’s driven, pushes his teammates and himself to be the best.
“And Kristian’s grown into such a physical specimen who loves to score.”
Really loves to score. The UC Davis-bound Heptner made it his goal to produce goals. He said he would visualize scoring, and he would plot his strategy before and during matches. His scoring prowess helped CBS to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship as a junior, and he propelled the Falcons back to the title game in November.
Heptner said he will appreciate the memories, if not the bruises that were part of the journey.
“It was pretty ridiculous as everyone came at me,” Heptner said. “Playing the way I do, it’s a little unique. I don’t see many playing like I do. That’s the one priority I have, to get the ball into the back of the net, and if I have to run into a brick wall to do it, I’ll do it. I have a natural nose for the goal, and that’s all I think about, a tunnel vision.
“And scoring is an addiction, a huge adrenalin rush, a real rush. I love it.”
Heptner wants to play soccer for as long as his body allows. But in the long run, he’s planning a career in biology and engineering. The ultimate goal, Heptner said, would be to help cure cancer and other diseases.
Heptner said he was pained to see the anguish in Hunley’s face this season as the coach’s 3-year-old son, Dylan, struggled with leukemia. Hunley appreciated the concern of CBS players and the community, saying, “It helped me a lot.”
Said Heptner: “It’s hurts me to see a young person with an illness like that. They have so much more in life. It definitely makes you appreciate the small things in life, like having two feet, a healthy body.”
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.
Player of the Year
▪ Kristian Heptner, Christian Brothers, Sr.
Coach of the Year
▪ Joe Champion, Oak Ridge
▪ Corban Anderson, Granite Bay, Sr.
▪ Luc Barbe, Jesuit, Sr.
▪ Hunter Brown, Rio Americano, Sr.
▪ Diego Buenrostro, Jesuit, Sr.
▪ Gonzalo Garcia, Jesuit, Sr.
▪ Connor Hayes, Oak Ridge, Sr.
▪ Louis Heinzer, Christian Brothers, Sr.
▪ Paul Herscowitz, Capital Christian, Sr.
▪ Nick Kolokotronis, Jesuit, Sr.
▪ Hunter Loomis, Granite Bay, Jr.
▪ Michael Trumbull, Oak Ridge, Sr.
▪ Tomas Buchmiller, Christian Brothers, Jr.
▪ Eric Cobian, Franklin, Jr.
▪ Taylor Garcia, Capital Christian, Sr.
▪ Marcus Guerrero, Liberty Ranch, Jr.
▪ Christian Guzman, Lincoln, Sr.
▪ Michael Hirsch, Pleasant Grove, Sr.
▪ Rafael Jimenez, Grant, Sr.
▪ Ethan Krebs, Cosumnes Oaks, Jr.
▪ Isaac Martinez, Galt, Jr.
▪ Baltazar Silva, Natomas, Jr.
▪ Brayden Sullivan, El Camino, Sr.
Daniel Bohnett, Granite Bay; Andrew Doe, Ponderosa; Zack Fort, Capital Christian; Kyle Johnson, Bella Vista; Nabil Kibunguchy, Cosumnes Oaks; Kiefer Lowry, Del Oro; Spencer Maestas, Christian Brothers; Omar Magana, West Campus; Sergio Magana, Monterey Trail; Dylan Mello, Franklin; Ruben Mendoza, Natomas; Sam Miller, Oak Ridge; Alex Muir, Whitney; D.J. Pascua, Granite Bay; Andres Prieto, Placer; Joe Restani, Pleasant Grove; Sebastian Santos, Encina; Clayton Sato, Whitney; Jose Torres, Monterey Trail; Garry Valadez, Bella Vista.
How the teams were picked: Bee Preps Show co-host Mike Finnerty picked the teams based on observations and polling of regional coaches.
The Bee’s Top 20 Final Rankings
1. Oak Ridge 15-4-1
2. Jesuit 24-2-1
3. Davis 17-6
4. Christian Brothers 17-2-4
5. Granite Bay19-2
6. Capital Christian17-3
7. Cosumnes Oaks 14-3-5
8. Bella Vista 11-6-4
9. Pleasant Grove 8-6-5
12. Grant 11-10-3
13. Rio Americano 12-7-2
14. Franklin 8-8-4
15. Natomas 14-5-3
16. Del Oro 11-4-3
17. El Camino 9-11-3
18. Whitney 9-5-6
19. Monterey Trail 10-11-3
20. Placer 14-2-4