Star senior defender Johan Ramirez has played his last game for the Del Norte boys soccer team, but the reigning Humboldt-Del Norte League’s most valuble player isn’t done playing soccer yet.

Ramirez was named the HDN’s MVP this fall after helping lead the Warriors to the most successful season in school history. On Wednesday, Ramirez signed to continue playing soccer next fall at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka.

“That is all that I wanted to do — play soccer somewhere close to home,” Ramirez said, after a short signing ceremony at Del Norte High School. “People can come out and watch. I have gotten a lot of love and support from everybody and I really do appreciate it, so I just want to give back.”

While College of the Redwoods is the closest option to home, Ramirez said he felt a particularly close connection to the coaching staff as well.

“It is super close to home and the fact that (head coach) Kyle (Van Dyke) is going to help me after college — I have a lot of faith in him,” Ramirez said. “Not only is he a good coach but he is a good person. I really trust him, my mom and my family really like him, and the team trusts him, so you can’t really ask for anything more.”

Van Dyke, who is a 2010 graduate of Del Norte High School, said Ramirez really caught his eye in the few Warrior games that he was able to catch this fall.

“He is just really strong out there. He really just carried the team — he was their rock,” Van Dyke said. “He was all over the field, pushing up and helping on defense, he is just really strong on the ball. You can tell that his teammates really respect him out there, he was a leader. So he is definitely someone I think can help out the program.”

Of course, Van Dyke said moving up to the junior college level will be an adjustment for the HDN MVP, but he is confident Ramriez is prepared for what is to come.

“It is just a completely different game — physicality-wise and speed-wise,” Van Dyke said. “It is definitely a big jump, but it is nothing that he can’t handle. He has told me that he has played with older guys his whole life, so he is prepared for that physical aspect for sure. I think he will be ready.

“I see him being a big help, continuing to be a starter, and hopefully getting him on to the next level if he wants to continue playing. I think this can be a big stepping stone for him to get him on to something else.”

Ramirez said ultimately he would like to continue to play soccer after two years at College of the Redwoods. But for now he is going to focus on finding his role on a new team.

“After CR I definitely want to see if I can play at a university. But for now I’m just going to take it step by step. Get better as a player as a person and just see where it takes me,” Ramirez said. “I just want to see what I can bring to the soccer field. See what I can give, and see what I can do. Like I did this year — whatever he needs I am going to give him 100 percent.”

Van Dyke said he expects that Ramirez will be an instant boost to the Corsairs defense this fall, where he will likely be in the same center back position in which he starred in high school.

“I see him playing as a center back still and helping anchor the defense,” Van Dyke said. “I think some of the returning defenders that we have might be a little better out wide. I think they will be able to play in that position knowing that we have another strong center back to use.”

Ramirez said he is thankful for all the support he has received from the Del Norte community over the years.

“Huge shout out to Smith River,” Ramirez said. “Thanks to everyone for coming out, and to my buds on the soccer team. I love them to death. I couldn’t have done it without them. They are my brothers.”

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