Salisbury's Bonilla signs with Catawba
By Ryan Bisesi
SALISBURY — They say Mom knows best.
Kenny Bonilla’s mom was pretty savvy in helping him choose a college destination. The Salisbury senior is heading to Catawba, where friends and family can see him play anytime.
“My mom was a big influence,” Bonilla said. “She wants me to stay home.”
Catawba was a natural choice being 2.3 miles away from Salisbury High. Bonilla has the rare chance to make an impact right away. Salisbury coach Matt Parrish noted Bonilla is part of a touted freshman class that his star player could be a big part of.
“They have high expectations for him,” Parrish said. “Like starting 11 right off the bat, let’s go. I think he knew that if he went there he could contribute right away.”
Bonilla had a banner senior year as he was an integral part of the Hornets’ state championship run. Bonilla scored 23 goals and collected 16 assists. He hopes to eventually collect similar numbers at Catawba, where he’s played pickup games throughout high school.
“Since freshman year, I’ve known guys on the team,” Bonilla said. “It’s like I’m already part of the team.”
Bonilla rifled a shot off the post in last week’s East-West All-Star Game in Greensboro which made him rife for a good-natured ribbing in the eyes of Parrish. Scoring was seemingly the only thing left out of Bonilla’s All-Star experience. He collected a foul in the first minute of play, got into some post-whistle activity with a friend for the East.
“Even when he collided with the goalie, he waived the coach off,” Parrish said. “That’s just how he is.”
Bonilla also collided with East’s goalie, showing the same tenacity he did in the 2A West final where he left the game after colliding with Shelby’s keeper. Bonilla scored the tying goal with 4:53 left as Salisbury completed its rally from down 2-0. The Hornets played Carrboro in the state championship two days later and the rest was history.
Not much went wrong during the 5-foot-8, 156-pounder’s final year as a Hornet. Winning a state title and being All-State, All-Region, All-Conference, All-County and the team’s MVP all joined the resume.
Bonilla says he feels comfortable in any attacking role as he may be repositioned at Catawba.
“They can play me wherever as long as I get playing time really,” said Bonilla, also a National Honor Society member.
Now that Bonilla’s just down the road, Parrish can sustain his relationship with the All-State midfielder.
“I’m excited to watch men’s soccer at Catawba,” Parrish said. “They’re going to be good.”
The Indians were 9-9-2 last season and 3-4-2 in the SAC.
Bonilla and Connor Miller were the first Salisbury players to play in the East-West All-Star Game since Daniel Butner in 2002. Bonilla also played in the Clash of the Carolinas All-Star Game.