PREP FOOTBALL 2019: DOS PUEBLOS : ‘WE LIKE TO RUN IT DOWN YOUR THROAT’
Udy Loza’s strong bloodlines could be easily traced during football practice at Dos Pueblos High last week.
One of them even trickled down from his right ear.
“I cut it on this screw in my helmet during our first day of hitting,” Loza said with a smile.
Mark it down as just another red badge of courage for the Chargers’ gritty senior.
Loza’s father — who is also named Udy — was a hard-hitting linebacker and offensive guard for Santa Barbara High during the 1980s. Udy Jr. takes the same approach as a running back.
“They played different positions, but the toughness, the attitude are the same,” said DP coach Doug Caines, another former Dons’ football star.
The younger Loza is only 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, but he has fully embraced the Chargers’ “Thundering Herd” style on offense.
“I really do like it,” he said. “I get a lot of touches and I love the physical part of the game … That’s why I’m out here.
“I play both sides of the ball so it can get to be a little much on my body, but I train hard in the offseason to help me combat that.”
DP runs a smash-mouth offense in which a wedge of blockers leads the ball carrier through the hole.
“The way we play is different from anyone else in our area or anyone in general,” Loza said. “We’re a real physical team. A team like Santa Barbara will throw the ball a lot, but we like to run it down your throat when we need to.”
Loza was one of four DP backs to earn All-Channel League recognition last year, receiving honorable mention as a junior. But he’s primed to play an even bigger role this season.
“There’s a little more pressure on me,” he said. “Last year, I’d rotate with Eric Lopez, but it’s a little bit more on me now.
“I do have a junior, Alonzo Cruz, to help me out when I need a breather. He’s a tough kid, just like his brother Diego s (an all-league strong safety the previous two seasons).”
Slotback Conner Lee, who received second-team All-Channel League honors last year, should also get his share of carries as a dual threat. Lee, who underwent shoulder surgery after wrestling season, is expected to be ready for for next Friday’s home opener against Rio Mesa.
“They’ve both definitely stepped up into an ownership role — especially Udy,” Caines said. “He came into the offseason demanding effort from kids when they’d show up.
“It’s one thing when a leader is given authority, it’s another to actually lead. Udy has absolutely done that, holding his teammates accountable.”
Loza did have to prove himself to his new teammates after transferring from Santa Barbara High before his sophomore season.
“I forced myself into the role, but I think a lot of the guys respect me as a football player and off the field, as well,” Loza said. “I think coach sees me that way, too, and as someone people can look to when things go bad.”
Caines considers Loza to be in good enough shape to also take some reps at outside linebacker.
“He bench-presses the same as his dad does,” said Caines, who enlisted the elder Loza to be his offensive coordinator when he was head coach at Santa Barbara High. “The older Udy can still absolutely lift. They push each other.”
Loza trained during the offseason with both his father and older brother Cristian, who was a star catcher at Santa Barbara High.
“We’d go to Gold’s Gym and lift there, and for conditioning I’d run to the beach and in the sand, trying to get more resistance, then at SBCC and get flatter work,” he said. “I kind of see my dad as a rival and try to keep up with him in the weight room.
“I try to keep the same mentality that he had when he played football, too. He has such a good legacy with his name.”
And the name is the same.