PREP FOOTBALL: Bands of brothers
Shakespeare could’ve penned a great play about football.
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,” he wrote in King Henry V. “For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”
Blood or no blood, a happy band can be found at each of the area’s three Channel League high schools as they prepare for the start of the football season in two weeks.
For Albert Alvarado and Udy Loza, this bond of loyalty even superseded the one they felt for their original high school. They figure to be impact seniors at Dos Pueblos High this season after having transferred together as sophomores from Santa Barbara High.
“I grew up with Udy,” Alvarado explained. “I’ve known him since we were in pre-K at Roosevelt School. His dad (Udy Sr.) helped me out a lot, teaching me how to play quarterback.
“We never really spoke much about transferring back then. He just told me that he wanted to come out here, so I was like, ‘Then I want to come out here, too.'”
Loza, a returning starter at running back, helped Alvarado get through the shock when his own first varsity start for the Chargers came in last year’s CIF playoff opener against eventual State 2A Champion Lawndale.
“I found out I was starting just one or two days before the game,” said Alvarado, who had to take over at quarterback for injured senior David Leon. “Of course I had the jitters. It was crazy.”
He had his buddy there to restore his sanity, however, assuring that all they wanted was that “you do the best you can.”
Loza remains confident in his former pre-K classmate as Alvarado battles junior Josiah Severson for this year’s quarterback job.
“He has a lot on his shoulders, but I feel he can take it, having been thrown into the playoffs like that,” he said of his fleet-footed friend. “He can handle the pressure, and I feel that what he does best will work well with the offense we run.”
The band of brotherhood can also bleed into other sports. Friendship drew DP senior Evan Steinberger, a .355-hitting catcher, to the football field for the first time this fall.
“The baseball guys on our team got him out here,” said Alvarado, who believes the 6-foot-2 Steinberger will develop into one of his top receivers. “They were telling him, ‘It’s your last year, just come out and have fun.'”
Steinberger, who is also a goalkeeper on the Chargers’ soccer team, will also play on defense and handle the team’s place-kicking chores.
“He’s going to be a nice bookend for us (with 6-5 senior receiver Baylor Huyck),” coach Doug Caines said. “Evan is also shaping up to be a pretty special safety.
“He’s green to football but he’s a three-sport athlete, and he looks pretty good. We’re excited to watch him play ball.”
Deacon Hill, Santa Barbara High’s junior quarterback, began fostering relationships with his own receivers long before they became Dons.
“I’ve been playing with Jake Knecht since seventh grade, and I’ve known Moki (Nacario) since I was in first grade at Peabody School … or maybe even kindergarten,” he said. “We played basketball together over there at the Boys Club in fifth or sixth grade.
“I’m super-close with all the receivers – Jackson Gonzales, Dakota Hill, Jake, Moki … We got together a lot during the summer and would throw the ball around, get some food and then go to the beach.”
San Marcos seniors Ben Partee and Josh Brown took their own pass-catch connection beyond the boundaries of this beach burg in hopes of staying together after high school.
“Josh and I went back East to check out a couple of Ivy League schools together,” said Partee, a quarterback who accumulated a grade-point average of 4.85 and 1,712 passing yards last year. “We went to Princeton and Yale and Penn.
“Yale is interested, and Brown as well.”
Brown, the receiver, caught 44 of Partee’s passes last year for 675 yards. It’s a combination that gives San Marcos its best chance of making the playoffs in several years.
“Josh is definitely a go-to guy for me,” Partee said. “Great route-runner … and he’s super-reliable.”
That is, after all, what any band needs most from a brother.
Mark Patton’s column appears on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.