By John Philip Wyllie
A recent trip to Maui turned out to be no Hawaiian holiday for the Bonita Vista Barons football team. On the wrong end of a 30-7 drubbing administered by their Hawaiian hosts, Maui Lah-ainaluna, the season didn’t begin the way that anyone in blue and gold was hoping that it would. Afterward, the players were reminded that it is not how you start that is important, but how you finish.
Senior tight end and defensive lineman Donny Gomez has been around long enough to know that one game does not a season make. He remains optimistic that the Barons will use this week’s bye to regroup and come out fired up when they return to the field next weekend.
“We really didn’t have much in the way of films to prepare for that game, so the coaches had to do the best that they could,” Gomez said Wednesday during practice. “With the bye week we have plenty of time to fix our problems. We are excited about the season and the upcoming game against Mission Bay.”
Gomez has done it all for the Barons. Last year he rarely left the field starting not only on offense and defense, but playing on most of the special teams too. This year with a deeper team he will be allowed to concentrate more on offense.
“Donny has been with us for four years and he is a great kid,” according to veteran head coach, Carl Par-rick. “He sacrificed himself by going both ways in that first game, but we have decided that he is so valuable (as a tight end) that we need him to focus on just on one side of the ball. He is a team leader and a player that is very coachable and respectful.”
Gomez provides a big boost to the Baron running game with his solid blocking, but he has developed into a fine receiver as well. Parrick finds himself in the unusual position of have two quality tight ends. His other tight end, D.J. Shields, is a bona fide Division I prospect. Together they should create major match-up problems for the defenses trying to contain them.
“I consider myself more of a blocking tight end and D.J. is usual more out in the patterns, but in a pinch I can get it done (as a receiver) too,” Gomez said.
His role goes beyond what he contributes on the field. Gomez is a leader and somebody that Parrick knows that he can count on. He is the type of player that brings guys together. Perhaps best of all, he has a nearly unlimited enthusiasm for the sport and the team.
“We are looking better than last year. We have all the players that we need and a lot of potential. With these players and these coaches we are going to get it done this year,” Gomez said.
From his early gridiron beginnings at the age of five until now he has always felt at home on the football field. He will be sad to see it all end once the season concludes in November, but next fall he will seek new challenges as he heads off to college to focus on a degree a business. Football however, has left an indelible mark on his soul.
“I compete in track and field too, but there is nothing like football. I have definitely learned about limits and how far you can push yourself as well as leadership and many other things. It’s a total rush. It’s teamwork and having all your friends out on the field with you. The traveling that we do is amazing. This entire football program is awesome.”