By John Philip Wyllie
Only a relative few high school football players ever make it to the college ranks. Former Chula Vista High All-League linebacker, Carlos Santamaria, who now stars for the Southwestern College Jaguars (2-1) is one of them. Before he hangs up his cleats, Santamaria would like to play for a Division I college program.
“Carlos is real smart and makes lots of instinctual plays without making a lot of mistakes, said Jaguar’s defensive coordinator, Dionicio Monarrez Jr. of his 6’3” 225 pound inside linebacker. “He’s a very physical player and for a guy as big as he is, he moves around very well. He’s a team leader and the guys respect him. He can definitely play at the Division I level. If he takes care of his studies somebody will look for him.”
“My uncle Kenny played football throughout his life and he was a big influence growing up,” Santamaria said. “I grew up playing Pop Warner football for the Chula Vista Aztecs and he was the one who nudged me toward that.” Santamaria stayed with it and improved with each passing year.
“My linebackers coach (at CVHS), Craig Wilson, was a big part of my life beginning with my sophomore year of high school. We went 10-0 in (2003) my senior year. We had a lot of guys that worked hard on that team and made each other better.” That hard work made the transition to the college ranks easier.
“Players in college are bigger and faster. In high school you just run around and make plays, but here you have to know what you are doing and be in the right spot to make the play. You are not just covering grass you have to be on a person. It’s been a little bit of a change, but nothing I can’t handle.
Southwestern has struggled in recent years, but with the return of former head coach Mike Pompa, the Jaguars appear much improved. They have already matched last year’s victory total (two) heading into the fourth week of the season.
“A lot of the guys have been out here since the spring and we worked hard all summer,” Santamaria said. “Last year we had a lot of individuals playing out here, but this year everyone is working hard for one team goal. So far, things are looking pretty good.”
On Saturday, the Jaguars face a formidable foe when they travel to meet perennial powerhouse Grossmont College (2-1). Last week, the Griffins scored an amazing 83 points in their rout of San Jacinto College. A good showing here by Santamaria and his defensive teammates would be a solid indicator of just how much the Jaguars defense has improved.
“I like to motivate my teammates by setting a good example. As long as I am motivated and doing what I am supposed to do everyone else will rally around me. That will make our defense that much better.”
After completing this, his second season of Jaguars football, Santamaria hopes to continue his career at the University of Oregon.
“I have been wanting to go to the University of Oregon ever since I was little. I just want to keep my head on straight and get my credits completed. Then hopefully, I will be out of here after this year.”