Brownsville Veterans standout Gilbert Trillo is the All-Area MVP for the 2023 season. Photo courtesy of Mario Molina.

Brownsville Veterans Memorial safety/running back Gilbert Trillo was always going to be a key player for the Chargers in 2023, but few could have expected how important Trillo would be for the Class 5A Division I state semifinalists.

Trillo is The Brownsville Herald and Valley Morning Star’s All-Metro/All-Star Most Valuable Player for the 2023 football season.

Always humble, Trillo praised his teammates for his success, calling it a “team game.” He is right, but without some of his late-game heroics — like against Corpus Christi Miller, when he scored the game-winning touchdown and then had the game-saving pass breakup — the Chargers might not have made it to the final four, or even won other playoff games that were so vital to Brownsville Veterans’ success.

Brownsville Veterans Memorial senior Gilbert Trillo (1) carries the ball into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown against CC Miller for the Class 5A DI Region IV title Friday Dec. 1, 2023, at Sams Memorial Stadium in Brownsville. (Andrew Cordero/Special to The Monitor)

Trillo rushed for 860 yards, 15 touchdowns and had 365 receiving yards, nine receiving touchdowns on offense. Trillo had 82 tackles, six interceptions and three fumble recoveries for the Chargers on defense. Trillo had a total of 26 touchdowns.

Trillo was a defensive standout during previous seasons but had to step up on offense this season. Offense grew on him in 2023.

“It was easier than I realized,” he said. “All you had to do was hold on to the ball and be a tough runner, everybody is going to respect you for that. Similar to what Alvin (Trevillion) did this year. The coaches gave me the opportunity to step up, and the offensive line paving the way led me to have big games.”

Brownsville Veterans running back Gilbert Trillo (1) reaches out for a pass in a Region IV-5A DI semifinal playoff game against PSJA North at PSJA Stadium on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in Pharr. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Defensively, Trillo was disappointed by his performance during his junior year, when he had two interceptions, two less than his sophomore season, when he had four.

Trillo’s range this season was remarkable. Trillo’s ability to play any type of safety allowed for the rest of the defensive backs to have freedom to make plays as well.

“I felt like performing on both sides of the ball gradually kept me going, it made me tougher,” Trillo said. “Having Jaime Martinez at inside linebacker helped a lot, too. I got smarter under Coach Ram and that is what helped me, too.”

Brownsville Veterans’ Gilbert Trillo with the ball against McHi on Friday, Nov. 10, 2023 at Sams Memorial Stadium in Brownsville. (Andrew Cordero/Special to The Monitor)

Brownsville Veterans head coach JC Ramirez said it was a “no-brainer” that Trillo would be the all-area MVP.

“He is the most impactful player on the most successful team in our area,” Ramirez said. “He deserves to be the MVP. The stats are great, but there is so much that he brought to the table that you can’t quantify.”

Ramirez pointed out Trillo’s work ethic and leadership abilities.

“He was able to hold people accountable, and not by being boisterous, but by making sure everybody does their job in an encouraging way,” Ramirez said.

Trillo is going to leave the Chargers as one of the best defensive players and one of the best players in Brownsville Veterans history, Ramirez said.

Brownsville Veterans running back Gilbert Trillo (1) smiles as he celebrates his touchdown run against Donna High in a game at Bennie La Prade Stadium on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, in Donna. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])