Like almost every high school athlete in Utah, Layton High boys’ soccer forward Eli Nixon didn’t have much of a spring season after the Utah High School Activities Association canceled it due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lancers played only three games this season and didn’t win one. And when Nixon, a senior, found out early Monday morning that he had been named the Gatorade Utah Boys Soccer Player of the Year, he couldn’t help but feel a bit strange about it.

“It’s good to have an award,” Nixon said. “But I feel like the award that I won was based off of last year’s performances.”

Nixon did have a good 2019 season in which he netted 13 goals and added four assists. Layton made it to the state tournament quarterfinals that year.

Nixon is also a member of the West Region Olympic Development program and attended a U.S. Youth National Team camp in January. He will play for Utah Valley University in the fall before going on mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Layton coach Rick Talamantez said Nixon winning the award was well-deserved.

“Eli is one of the most dynamic players that has come out of Layton High. He is a player that you could put into any position and you know he will perform,” Talamantez wrote in an email. “He has a keen ability to find that back of the net, so whenever he had the ball around the 18 you know he will be dangerous.”

Nixon said he was “pretty shocked” to learn he had won the Gatorade award, but admitted that he would have been more excited about it had received it after playing a full season.

Nixon is the first boys soccer player from Layton High to win the award.