DOWNEY – At first glance, he’s tiny in stature and doesn’t look like he can hold his own. But have you ever seen a player standing at 5 ft. 9 inches tall and 165 lbs. take down an opponent 6 feet tall and weighing 230 pounds, all by himself? He leads this season with a total of 60 tackles, 35 of which are solo tackles, averages 5.5 tackles a game, deflected four passes, and intercepted one pass, according to Maxpreps. Not bad for a kid who has not had much playing time due to recovery from an injury. At his peak, against his biggest opponents this season he had nine solo tackles against Vista Murrieta and eight solo tackles against Mira Costa. He’s fearless and not afraid to go up against any size.
He’s Miguel Esquitin (No. 22) for the Downey Vikings High School varsity football team.
“I’ve always been the smallest guy ever since I started with the Downey Razorbacks at the age of 5 years old,” says Esquitin. “Once I got to high school I started working out like crazy. I worked out after school for two hours every day. I went from 110 pounds to 140 pounds and increased my muscle gains. Now I can lift as much as any player on our team.
“I’m very competitive by nature. Right now, my goal is to be better than [teammate] Stacy Chukwumezie (No. 10). He’s my brother and we push each other by competing against each other. I tease him by saying he sucks and he will never beat me. He just laughs and says I won’t beat him, but I’m pretty determined to push myself to beat him at track this year – just to see that look on his face would be priceless.
“What got me into football were the people you make friends with. You all come together as brothers and become a family. It’s a brotherhood and we learn hard lessons together. Last season was one of those hard lessons. After we won the CIF championship [the year before] we came back cocky and thought we were better than everyone else because we had a ring. We learned through those loses a thing about humility. We each came back this season with a different attitude. It wasn’t about each one of us as individuals but rather us as a team. My motto is to stay healthy and humble.
“I almost didn’t come back this year to play football my senior year, but living with the regret of missing out on football would have been worse. I decided to dedicate this season to Dodi Soza and Jamari Mintz. Both players died too young and had such a passion for football. Though this year I’ve been thinking more about Jamari and how much I wish he was here. Jacob Cook (No. 3) and I spent his last few days with him. I found some old pictures of us and reflect on those times, Jamari died on Christmas Day due to stomach cancer at the age of 12 years old. But that’s the thing about football, you never forget about your brothers.
“I’m very lucky to have great parents. They have always been so supportive of anything I wanted to try. I tried other sports, but football I loved the most. I got to take out my anger on the field by hitting someone. It’s a sport that makes you want to win.
“The funny thing is that I play it but I don’t watch it on television. Not because I don’t love it, but football is something you have to experience for yourself. Being smaller is fun for me because I have to find ways to outsmart my opponents and lay them out. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
Esquitin hopes to attend a university and major in sports medicine or kinesiology. He currently volunteers for the Downey Youth Commission where he helps to organize events and help promote teen involvement within the community.
Published: Dec. 4, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 34