One of the most precarious situations Blackfoot opponents endured this season was when the ball was at Coque Velasquez’s feet.

No matter how much a team wanted to contain him, sometimes it was helpless because of his exquisite skills. Broncos coach Liam Pope knew that, placing the junior in front of every other Blackfoot player as a striker.

“Coque was our magician,” said Pope, who deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation. “He was a guy who produced something when there was nothing going on. He was a guy that a defender could not just switch off on, at any point. And he was a person that turned the focal point of an entire attack in just one piece of control or one pass.”

Velasquez’s skills have been honed through a lifetime passion for the game. He was even seen at Blackfoot’s summer open fields, starting when he was in fifth grade. While the pickup games were lighthearted, he still had to have the courage to play against kids with an enormous size advantage.

As good as Blackfoot’s top scorer is now, coaches say the junior will only get better. Pope pinpointed the Division I college level as a potential destination.

Velasquez has continued to show an eagerness to devote enough time to reach his ceiling by playing club soccer for the CGA Academy and putting much effort forth when he is representing his high school on the soccer field.

The 2016 Journal Boys All-Area Soccer Player of the Year helped lead the Broncos to an undefeated regular season. After Blackfoot fell in the 4A District 5-6 title game to Century, the Broncos rebounded by making it to the state semifinals for the first time since 2011.

Pope couldn’t pinpoint a signature moment for Velasquez in 2016, though he did offer a glimpse of something away from games that happened at least once a week during the season.

“He would phone me up or ask me after practice, ‘Liam, can you leave me a bag of balls, so I can practice my shooting after practice?’ Or, ‘I’m going to come back later to practice shooting,’” Pope said. “Those are the things that you don’t see in the game. You see all the magic, but there’s a lot of stuff that went on behind the scenes too.”

Velasquez also declined when asked to pick his top moment on the soccer field and looked beyond his performances, saying he found a lot of pleasure in assisting teammates in improving, mostly through advice.

There is one piece of advice he has taken to heart, which was given by his parents, who know of his desire to play soccer professionally.

“My parents have always taught me to dream really high,” Velasquez said. “I feel like when you dream big, you achieve big things.”

Before that, there is work to be done at Blackfoot, which he hopes to guide to a district and state title in his senior season. Pope is sure to enjoy the final stretch of Velasquez’s Blackfoot career. Already, the coach has seen the forward go from fifth-grade novice to one of the best players in southeast Idaho. Who knows what will be the apex of his prep career?

“It’s been fun to watch. I mean, it just has,” Pope said. “You see these kids come up and come through and graduate and you do, you feel good about it. You enjoyed watching them. You feel almost a little bit of pride in the fact that you’ve seen them come all the way through.”

Note: Coque Velasquez will receive the Journal Boys Soccer Player of the Year award at the ISJ Sports Stars event on May 30 at the Stephens Performing Arts Center.