SAN DIEGO — Before beginning high school football, Abel Casas heard it all from the naysayers.

At only five-foot, six-inches and about 115 pounds, all the San Diego teen-ager heard back them from some of the boys around him was that he was too small to play football; that he wasn’t cut out for the sport and that he would never make it.

Well, all of that stayed with Casas. Then after breaking his collar done in his first game as a freshmen, he used it all as motivation to rehabilitate from his injury and to come back bigger, stronger and faster. He returned to football and started for the Vaqueros at cornerback as a sophomore in 2015. A season later, Casas again led the Vaqueros’ secondary. This time, everyone took notice. Cases finished the season with 31 solo tackles, eight interceptions and 14 passes broken up.

In December, he was named to the Associated Press Sports Editors Class 3A all-state team as a first-team selection. This week, he was named All-South Texas by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. It’s an amazing accomplishment for an underclassmen who was often told he was too small for the game.

“This is all really special for me, especially coming from where I came from,” Casas said. “When I was a freshmen, everyone told me I was too small and that I wouldn’t accomplish anything and that I would never play. I’ve been able to do things in football that some of those same people haven’t been able to do.”

San Diego defensive coach Hector Gaza was never one of those doubters. He said he always saw the athletic ability in Casas.

“Ever since Abel Casas played junior high football, I saw the skills he had and the ability to find the ball,” Gaza said. “He has become a great defensive back and leader in the secondary. He’s great on man coverage and plays great zone, but he lives up to the challenge facing great receivers. He prepared well with great practices and watching video at all times.”

Cases said he plans to have even better senior year for San Diego, and hopes to play in a statewide all-star senior game in 2018.

“I want to thank my mom, because she’s a big part of everything I do, and my sisters Iessa and Delilah and my brother Albert,” Casas said. “I also want to thank my wela, for making it to all of my games, my step-father Alonzo Resendez for being a positive male influence in my life after the passing of my dad, and my girlfriend Alicia Hernandez.”