DOWNEY - When the Downey High School football team won the 2012 C.I.F. Southeast Division title, the Vikings had standout players at many positions. Sophomore running back Justin Huff was selected as the C.I.F Southeast Division Offensive Player of the Year. Senior linebacker Robert Salazar was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year and Jack Williams was selected as Coach of the Year.Sophomore quarterback Jorge Reyna, senior offensive tackle Mark Kozhaya, junior outside linebacker/strong safety Tristan Esparza, senior wide receiver Jeremy Villa and junior defensive tackle Anthony Florido were all selected to the All-Southeast Division Team. The Vikings' special teams were solid too. Downey senior kicker Mario Galvan was consistently floating kickoffs that caused opposing team's upbacks to "fair catch" kickoffs. Galvan would float the ball off a kickoff tee to the opposition's 25-yard line. This was significant for three reasons. First, the opposing team's speedy return men never got a chance to return a kickoff. Second, the ball would not go out of bounds and result in a penalty that would have the opposition start at the 35-yard line. Last, a floated kick would force the opposing team's upback, often times not a very good receiver, to catch a ball. This led to botched catch attempts and Viking special teams fumble recoveries. Galvan floated kicks well but he also did a good job connecting on field goals inside 37 yards. The best example of this was when Galvan iced the second round C.I.F. game against Norwalk when he nailed a 37-yard field goal that gave the Vikings a 45-35 lead with little time to play. Norwalk scored a late touchdown but Downey held on for the 45-42 win because of the field goal. Mario Galvan was recently diagnosed with a form of cancer and has not attended school since the middle of December. He is currently taking medication and his doctors are expecting a full recovery. Galvan is expected to be out of school for four more months and arrangements have been made for him to get his last four classes done. Galvan, a three-year varsity soccer player for the Vikings as well, is missing this soccer season due to his illness. Galvan, despite this setback, is in good spirits as he recovers. Galvan enjoys watching his favorite soccer team, Real Madrid, and the popular television show "How I Met Your Mother." Galvan first noticed a weakness in his legs the week of the Norwalk game. He felt as if he had no strength in his legs to kick the ball. The next week against Santa Fe the feeling did not go away and was "significantly worse." Galvan went to see his doctor the Thursday before the championship game on Saturday. Galvan could no longer kick field goals but was physically able to float kickoffs. Galvan enjoyed the victory over La Serna in the C.I.F. title game but shortly thereafter had an MRI done because the x-ray he took that Thursday was inconclusive. The MRI detected three masses. One was in his chest, one was just above his left collar bone and the third mass was in his lower back. The mass in his lower back is what was causing the weakness in his legs. Galvan was admitted to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center on Dec. 18 for further tests. He was in and out of the hospital between Christmas and New Year's, and is now resting at home with a 15-pill daily regimen to treat his illness. Galvan's father, Mario Sr., has been trained by the medical staff at Long Beach Memorial and helps administer what Mario needs. Mario is resting comfortably and is expected to make a full recovery. The early detection has played a key role in Mario's diagnosis and well-being. Best of luck to Mario as he recovers.
********** Published: January 24, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 41