By John Philip Wylie
Just a few short years ago, Castle Park High School’s Raul Sierra was living in Tijuana in the land where futbol is king and football is something that is played primarily across the border. Tonight, the Trojans stellar defensive end will be counted on to pressure the opposing quarterback and to shut down the running game on his side of the field. Sierra feels confident that he will be up to the challenge. After all, he has overcome obstacles bigger than this one. So has his team. The Trojans have an odd habit of falling behind early, but fortunately, they are also strong finishers.
The Trojans finished the regular season last week at (6-3-1) and undefeated (4-0-1) in league play. As champions of the South Bay League, they gained the privilege of hosting the reeling Bonita Vista Barons in the opening round of the CIF championship. Sierra and his teammates are excited to be playing their cross town rivals. CIF games are themselves something to be cherished, but when they offer the rare opportunity take on a local rival, they become something really special.
Currently a junior and in his first season of varsity football, the entire season has been special to Sierra. So has the opportunity to live in America.
“When I came here a few years ago my English wasn’t very good and I struggled a lot in school,” Sierra said. “But I have had some great teachers and coaches here and they have made things a lot easier. Some people call Castle Park a “ghetto school” and think that nothing good happens here, but it is really a great school with a lot of outstanding teachers.”
Those teachers have helped Sierra through the often difficult task of learning the ropes in a new culture. With some additional help and plenty of hard work, Sierra is now enjoying a lot of success. The support he has received from his parents has also been critical.
“My parents never had the opportunities that I am getting now. They are behind me 100%. They always stay on me to do my best, because they want me to be better off than they are. When we came here they insisted that I learn English, because they knew that that is the key to getting ahead here.”
While Sierra feels that he still has along way to go in terms of mastering English, one would never guess that in talking to him. One would also never guess that he is a recent immigrant by the way that he plays football.
“Raul does his job well and takes the pressure off of our linebackers by taking on blockers and making tackles,” said Trojan position coach, Shawn Pomatto. “He plays a critical role on our defense.”