There's a mutual respect between David Arakelyan and David Komjathy that's lasted for more than a decade.
After competing against each other at the club level, Arakelyan and Komjathy took their games to the high school stage as members of the Burroughs High and Crescenta Valley boys' water polo teams, respectively. The tandem battled against each other during the last four seasons in the competitive Pacific League.
The seniors capped their superb careers by being selected the league's co-players of the year.
"I'm glad to share it with David," said Arakelyan, who finished with 155 goals and helped Burroughs win its first league championship since capturing the Almont League title in 1994. "David is such a great competitor and a huge offensive threat. He deserves the recognition.
"It's such an honor for me to get a share of it. It was sort of a goal of mine to try to get it. We lost league last year, so we wanted to come back even stronger and win it this year. We had a great team and we put things together."
Arakelyan, a utility who helped Burroughs win the CIF Southern Section Division V championship in 2016, contributed 40 steals and 30 assists.
Komjathy, a driver, had 85 goals, 55 steals and 22 assists for the Falcons, who finished third in league.
"I think David and I bring out the best in each other and it's been that way for a long time," Komjathy said. "We push each other and he's been very successful. I've learned a lot going up against him.
"I'm happy to share the award with him. I'm glad I was able to play at CV, which has a great tradition and history. It's a great way for me to go out."
Arakelyan and Komjathy headlined a list of 19 area players bestowed with all-league recognition. In addition, Burroughs coach Jacob Cook was tabbed the league's coach of the year.
Cook, whose team finished 15-13, 7-1 in league before advancing to the second round of the Division III playoffs, said Arakelyan proved to be the consummate playmaker.
"He's definitely very strategical," Cook said. "He can see the play developing on offense and defense. He's been able to do that the whole time he's been here."
Crescenta Valley coach Jan Sakonjuu said Komjathy took on any role given to him.
"He's got such a great knowledge for the game and you can see him improving all of the time," said Sakonju, whose team went 21-7, 6-2 for third place and qualified for the Division IV playoffs. "When you see David play water polo, you can tell right away that he's never giving up.
"During the swim season, he competes in the 500-yard freestyle and he's happy to do it. It's a very long race, but it's a race where you can outlast your opponents. And that's what happened in water polo."
Six area athletes received first-team accolades: Marko Vucetic, Arthur Sefayan and Vahagn Saakyan of Burroughs, Hoover's Jordan Corpuz and David Ashkharian and Hakop Artsvelian of Crescenta Valley.
Vucetic, a senior utility, finished with 55 goals, 15 steals and 10 assists.
"He was another leader," Cook said. "He could score and play defense and he made sure the practices always went well."
Sefayan, a senior utility, finished with 15 goals after transferring from Newbury Park.
"We only had him for a limited time, but he was a very good set defender and he turned out to be a very good shooter," Cook said.
Saakyan, a sophomore attacker, had 23 goals, 10 steals and 10 assists.
"He was a great all-around player and somebody who I rarely took out," Cook said.
Hoover finished 13-11, 6-2 and fell to Burroughs in the league tournament championship. The Tornadoes, who won the league title in 2016, lost in the first round of the Division II playoffs.
Corpuz, a junior two-meter, finished with 43 goals.
"He improved to the point where he was well-conditioned and could do quite a few things well," Hoover coach Kevin Witt said.
Ashkharian, a junior driver, collected 61 goals and 23 assists.
"He was very dangerous on the counter-attack and that often set the tone," Witt said. "He got the ball to the right people in the right situations."
Artsvelian, a senior, continued the program's tradition in a long line of standout goalkeepers. He finished with 263 saves and 15 steals.
"I think of Hakop as the foundation of our defense," Sakonju said. "His hand-eye coordination is so sharp and he knows how to position himself correctly."
JJ Ambartsumyan of Burroughs, Hoover's Robert Akopyan and Henry Pruett, Bodoe Wyss of Crescenta Valley, Glendale's Vachik Gharibyan and Brandon Wilson of Burbank picked up all-league second-team honors.
Ambartsumyan, a senior utility, collected 55 goals, 10 steals and eight assists.
Akopyan, a senior utility, had 34 goals. Pruett, a junior goalkeeper, finished with 203 saves and 25 steals.
Wyss, a junior driver, registered 39 goals, 42 assists and 32 steals.
Gharibyan, a senior hole/set, notched 33 goals, 45 steals and 17 assists for Glendale, which finished 14-9, 4-4 for fifth place and reached the Division VI playoffs.
Wilson proved to be the backbone of the Bulldogs, finishing with 103 goals, 60 steals and 25 assists as a senior utility. Burbank went 7-11, 1-6 in league for sixth place.
Richard Legorreta of Burroughs, Hoover's Armando Honarchian, Kurtis McNevin of Crescenta Valley, Glendale's Nicholas Schmitt and Artush Gasparyan of Burbank received honorable mention.
Legorreta, a junior attacker, finished with 22 goals, 10 steals and eight assists. Honarchian, a junior driver, had 29 goals, 30 steals and 21 assists. McNevin, a senior utility, notched 38 goals, 10 assists and 13 steals. Schmitt, a senior utility, recorded 31 goals, 27 steals and 15 assists. Gasparyan, a junior utility, finished with 22 goals, 89 steals and 61 assists.