San Diego's Hector Gaza III can score in any facet of a high school football game
Hector Gaza III does pretty much everything for San Diego.
He plays multiple positions on offense, is a cornerback on defense, the kicker, punter and is the team’s top return man. And he’s pretty good at all of it.
Gaza is averaging more than 130 all-purpose yards a game and has scored nine total touchdowns this season. But he does not take credit for any of it. He spreads that to his Vaquero teammates.
“I just got to thank my teammates for the help, or I wouldn’t be scoring all those touchdowns,” Gaza said during a recent weight room workout.
While Gaza may pass on much of the credit, the multi-faceted junior player is a key reason the Vaqueros (8-0, 5-0 in 16-3A Division I) are in position to win a district title and finish the season undefeated with a clash against London set for Friday.
Gaza, who is the son of San Diego defensive coordinator Hector Gaza Jr., has four receiving touchdowns this season and is averaging more than 19 yards a catch, plus he has scored three times on punt returns and twice on kickoff returns.
The ability to score in multiple ways offers the San Diego coaching staff a potent weapon, while Gaza’s ability forces opposing coaches to account for him every play — not just on offense or defense.
“We try to find ways with particular formations (to get him the ball), and he’s been around the game,” said San Diego coach Bo Ochoa. “I’ve known Hector since he was little, he was a ball boy and bat boy (for the baseball team), you talk about savvy for the game … we tell our kids we can teach you to run and catch the ball but you can’t teach savvy. He knows the game.”
Gaza’s ability to play multiple positions is rooted in a love of running that started early in his life, and he also is a multi-sport athlete for the Vaqueros. He plays basketball, baseball and was also a member of the school’s 1,600-meter relay team that qualified for the Class 3A state meet earlier this spring.
Gaza even participated in the annual Beach to Bay Marathon when he was younger and would love to do it now if he could get a team together.
Gaza’s days are pretty filled up and he says he takes a nap when he gets home from practice and studies from 10 p.m. to midnight before he goes to sleep. And it all starts over early the next morning.
Gaza, who also has three interceptions this season, said the key is that his coaches and teammates are right there with him pushing him to be better.
“It means a lot,” Gaza said of his success. “A lot of my coaches really push us, and my teammates really push. And we also want to do this for the whole city of San Diego.”
CHALK ONE UP FOR THE BIG GUYS
As part of Orange Grove’s comeback against Mathis last week that propelled the Bulldogs to the playoffs was a play where offensive lineman Lance Lopez scored a touchdown.
The play totaled six yards as Lopez caught a backwards pass from quarterback Cutter Stewart and ran into the end zone for the touchdown.
The Bulldogs won the game 44-32 and earned one of the four playoff spots in District 15-3A.
16-4A Division II — Ingleside and Rockport-Fulton can each claim a share of the district title with victories on Friday. Sinton has clinched a share of the title. The Mustangs will take on rival Sinton at home on Friday. Rockport-Fulton faces Port Isabel.
16-3A Division I — London and San Diego face off for the district title on Friday as the two are 8-0 on the season. Also, Bishop can lock up a playoff spot with a victory against Falfurrias.
16-3A Division II — Taft and Skidmore-Tynan face off for the final playoff spot, and while Banquete is in the playoffs the Bobcats can get in by beating Taft by 14 or more points. Keep the calculators handy for this one.
16-2A Division I — Riviera and Santa Maria will meet for the final playoff spot on Friday.
TAPPS Division II, District 3 — John Paul II and Brownsville St. Joseph will play in Brownsville for the final playoff spot in the district.
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High School Football:Perfection on the line: Unbeaten London, San Diego clash for district title
Len Hayward is a USA Today Sports Network Region sports director and the Caller-Times sports editor. Support more coverage like this by checking out our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe