It is not uncommon to see a male soccer player dressing up on Friday night to deal with the kicking of the soccer team. Football practice time for these types of players competing for two fall sports at the same time is usually a few minutes at the end of the week to go over the special teams aspect of the game plan.
Then there are the three North Moore players who do more than just throw the ball for kickoffs and convert point-to-touchdown attempts.
With executives to handle the physical demand of football, seniors Jovanny Benitez-Cruz, Miguel Lopez and Brian Loza are far from the athlete of two fall sports that many football teams share with football teams, and vice versa, in their school.
Track and field is one way to put it, but North Moore football coach Andrew Carruth has another word.
“They are special,” Carrouth said. “These three guys are making my jaw drop. I watch them run all over the football field and then they show up for us the next day and they are ready to play football wide open.
Along with being physical on the soccer field and agile on the soccer field, the Mustang trio have also found a way to hone another attribute: balance.
“I try to balance it out when the practice shifts to another. It can be a bit difficult at times, ”said Benitez-Cruz. “This is our last year as a senior so we have to work hard in football and soccer. “
Benitez-Cruz and Lopez play on the Mustangs’ defensive line, while Loza has been a powerful full-back carrying the ball and blocking for offense.
“We’ve split training back and forth and sometimes we have a lot of football games in a week, so we have to balance that out and then take the time to watch movies and football stuff,” Loza said. “It’s funny. It’s worth the work. You get a reward both ways for doing good in both sports.”
These positions are what the trio do for “other football,” Loza joked. On the soccer field, the trio blocked midfield and defense for the Mustangs.
With a powerful boot, Lopez also handles North Moore’s kicking tasks in football and made his mark perfecting his in-play kicking techniques, and also has a 41-yard field goal this season at its assets.
“When you love two sports, you go all the way with both,” Lopez said. “It’s a memorable senior year for sure.”
The momentous senior year is also historic for all three athletes, playing their own roles for the men’s soccer team that advanced to the regional semi-finals last week against Rosewood, and the soccer team that still is. alive in the third round of the state playoffs.
“They are excellent students and they are also excellent athletes. I usually have to share the training with the soccer coach and I see that whether it’s soccer or soccer they always try to give 100 percent, ”said boys soccer coach Luis Peralta . “I told these guys, mostly because they’re seniors, this is their last year and they really need to put in a big effort. They don’t just show commitment, but they also show. leadership from the three of them. “
The understanding nature of the two coaching teams allows the two teams to share the talent of football games played Monday through Thursday and football on Friday.
The second year is when all three were on the same list of footballers, which is the same time Carrouth was hired to lead the program.
“One of the things that are special to me about North Moore is that a lot of other places make sure that you are specialized and that you try to stick with one or the other,” said Carrouth. “Here, we encourage them. I am perfect for sharing them with football. I will share them with anyone because I want our kids to earn as much as they can so they can help North Moore as a school.
Lopez and Loza had pre-high school football experience, while Benitez-Cruz was brought in to play by former North Moore assistant coach Ryan Giggey.
“He said to me: ‘You should play football. You will be good at it. I went to spring training and I liked it,” said Benitez-Cruz. “Since then I have been playing football. and I worked hard on it.
“Going hard” continues for all three players on the football and soccer field, and now the Mustangs are reaping the rewards of the hard work these three contribute to the team as a whole during their senior year of high school.
“It’s rewarding and a great way to end your senior year with success both ways,” Loza said. “It’s not easy by any means. You still have to factor in schoolwork and stuff, but it’s worth it at the end of the day.