When a child says, “I want to play football,” the parents are often faced with the decision of whether to let a child play or to say no. The choice is a difficult one because as a parent we think of all the dangers that can come from playing football. Injury is always a risk that comes from any sport, however, and for Manny Ramirez (#44), defensive captain at Downey High, the risk paid off.
Manny’s father at first did not want his son to play football because he himself had played and injured himself and did not want his son to suffer the same fate. But after his wife’s persistence, Manny’s father finally came around. In fact, you could say Manny Ramirez was setup to succeed in football in great part to his mother.
“She’s the hugest football fan you will ever meet. She loves football. She never misses a game and is always on the sideline,” Manny says. “Everyone on the team knows who she is and calls her Mom.”
Manny started flag football in the fifth grade and progressed to tackle football at the age of 10, playing for the Downey Razorbacks. Today, his personal goal for every game is to record eight tackles and one sack.
He is captain of the defensive line and has worked hard to be one of the best. His accomplishments currently include team leader in tackles for the 2012-2013 season. That same year he was named First Team All-League defensive line and was four votes away from All CIF Defensive End.
This year he is in the top 2 in tackles for his CIF division.
“There’s a lot of pressure to be the best and to be versatile out there,” he says. “When you are going up against teams like Vista Murrieta where you have players who are well rounded in footwork, are fast, and are strong you have to work extra hard and analyze film to study potential weak spots and find a way to push through.”
The rival game against Warren High School last week proved to be a successful game for Manny. He had seven solo tackles, six assisted tackles, and one fumble recovery. Last year, Manny sacked Warren’s quarterback as a defensive tackle. As they tried to block him he just blew straight past the player and sacked the quarterback.
“You could say both Christopher Blanton (#42) and I are both targeted at every game because we are the top two in our division,” Manny says. “Blanton is the pass rusher which means he gets more sacks and I’m the run stopper which means more hits on the runs. It’s all about control on the defensive line. Most players conserve energy by shifting around but not us because we make it a point to practice endurance.”
“Before every game I like to point up to the sky and tell my grandpa this is for you. Growing up I was really close to him and I miss him. This season I’m dedicating to both my parents for everything they have done for me and my goals.
“My mom is my biggest supporter out there. She cried because she thought she was going to miss a game. She has never missed a game, but my grandmother was in the hospital for a blood clot in her lungs and my mother was taking care of her. I felt bad for her because I know how much she wanted to be there to watch me play, but my grandmother was released and was able to make it after all. So far her record still stands she hasn’t missed a game. There’s nothing she wouldn’t do for me and I couldn’t be luckier to have a supportive mother like her.
“She knows there’s a possibility that I might get accepted to a university out of state and she’s crazy enough to move out there just so she doesn’t miss me playing. I couldn’t be luckier to have her as my mother.”
Manny currently helps feed breakfast to the homeless at a local church. He also helps coach football with the Downey Razorbacks in his spare time. He plans to attend a university and major in bio chemistry or fire science. His career goal is to become a firefighter.
He is excited for this week’s homecoming game against Gahr High School and is anxious to get on that field this Friday.
“You can’t doubt yourself; you have to put everything in it,” he says. “If you set your mind to it you can achieve it. I have my music to get me focused and I’m ready to do this.”
Published: Oct. 23, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 28