Ricky Fuentes, who ran, caught and threw for the Turlock High football team last season, isn’t afraid to admit that he has failed.
Early in his senior year, he said, “I fell apart academically with a couple classes.” That haunted him later on. He considered taking the junior college route, which he hoped would lead to a Division I football scholarship. Then came Southern Oregon University, a NAIA program that eventually fell through.
“He’s a bounce-back guy,” Turlock coach James Peterson said.
And now, Fuentes has even more decisions to make. Though he said he’ll go to Modesto Junior College to pursue either baseball or football, he hasn’t completely decided and hopes competing in Saturday night’s 38th annual Central California Lions All-Star Game at the University of Pacific’s Stagg Memorial Stadium in Stockton will help him make up his mind.
“My approach is definitely aggressive,” Fuentes said. “I’m anxious for the game, now that I’m not going to SOU. I’m looking forward to this game and hoping to get more looks.”
He wants to show potential junior colleges his abilities, the kind that logged 1,147 yards rushing and seven touchdowns to go along with 390 yards receiving and eight touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 8-3 season in 2010. Fuentes, who was also responsible for one passing TD, was a big part of Turlock’s historic turnaround from a 0-10 record the year before.
But toward end of last season, he was hurt. He played in the Bulldogs’ final game — a 24-7 loss to Lodi High in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I opener — with an abdominal strain. The same condition affected him during the baseball season, which resulted in surgery. But he says he has recovered and in a few more weeks, he’ll be back to his old self.
And that could cause problems for opposing players.
He’s quick, and he can explode once he gets the ball. He can run, catch and throw. Connor Pearson, a former Turlock teammate who is also on the All-Star South team, said Fuentes is tough to defend.
“He’s a great player, great athlete,” Connor said about Fuentes, with both feeling comfortable with the All-Star game since the South coaching staff is made up of Turlock coaches, including Coach Peterson. “He can excel at any sport when he puts his mind to it. I’m sure he’s going to be great in this game.”
But there’s something that bothers Connor, who will be a walk-on for UC Davis football in the fall. Fuentes is not sure if he wants to continue football, considering the physical toll it puts on the body. But he believes this All-Star game will shape his decision to go with football or baseball.
“I have a strong feeling that this All-Star game is definitely going to get me to feel like I can play football,” Fuentes said, “so this is pretty much the deciding point.”
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