By John Philip Wyllie
Most defensive players would be thrilled to have seven sacks in a season. Castle Park’s Joaquin Guerra did that and more several weeks ago in just one game. And the bad news for the remaining opponents on the Trojans schedule is that Guerra has no intention of resting on his laurels.
“Joaquin is agile, quick and tough,” said Castle Park head coach, Paul Van Nostrand. “In short, he is everything you would want in an outside linebacker. He is a little small for a linebacker (6’1” 195), but he makes up for it in other ways. He’s got good instincts and deceptive speed.” According to Van Nostrand, Guerra, one of the Trojan team captains, has a lot more than just his physical abilities going for him.
“Joaquin is extremely coachable. If you ask him to do anything he will do it. He is willing to play offense, defense and special teams. He also plays on the scout team (during practice). What he really does well though, is get after the quarterback. He runs real well to the football. If you try to run wide on him and he gets off of his block, he will run you down. He is that quick.”
In the Tijuana neighborhood where Guerra grew up futbol is much more popular than football, but Guerra got involved in the American version while he was still in grade school. His development progressed more rapidly after he and his family relocated to the South Bay.
“I was 12 when I started playing in Baja. I was a defensive lineman and we used to play against Pop Warner teams here in the U.S,” Guerra recalled. “When I arrived here as a freshman the coaches told me that I had the size and speed to play outside linebacker.”
By his sophomore year Guerra was developing into a very solid player. He was called up to the varsity team for the last few games of the season. Last year, he won a berth as a starting outside linebacker. He played well enough as a junior to be honored among the 2005 Breitbard San Diego Hall of Champions players to watch as this season got under way. And he has more than lived up to his billing.
But for Guerra, football isn’t about individual honors. The only thing that matters is winning as a team. He is optimistic that the Trojans, bolstered by a punishing defense, will continue on their road to success.
“I don’t see us losing again to anybody. Our (defensive) line is good. Our linebackers are good and our DBs are good. We just have to work on our offense a little bit.”
Guerra hopes to extend his career well beyond what he hopes will be a successful CIF run.
“I think I might be able to get a scholarship to play with the USD Toreros and I would love to play there,” Guerra said. “I want to stay at linebacker, so I will have to work out and get a little bigger. I am very focused on football right now because that is what is going to get me into a university.” His All-Academic credentials and 3.8 G.P.A. won’t hurt either.
Guerra plans to eventually capitalize on his ability to speak both Spanish and English and go into international business. But not before he builds on his season sack total.