Garcia’s Knack: Right Place, Right Time

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www.hudl.com

Jack Moeller, Sports Editor

UC Davis football commit Tiger Garcia has played in 2 California Interscholastic Federation [CIF] State Championship games this year, making him a standout among a Campolindo athletic program that boasts many of the top student athletes in the state.

Garcia, along with Madison Young, are the only two athletes to have played in both the football and basketball state games this year.

Athletic director Tom Renno said, “I definitely think that this shows that he is a great athlete, and has a very high level of competitiveness.”

According to Garcia, he started his football career at a young age. “When I was 8 years old, I played 1 year of Pop Warner. After that, I did not play football, except at the Campo football camps, which were held every single summer for 2 weeks.”

Garcia added, “I just loved those camps. Coach Macy and all of the guys that I played with went to these camps, which were 5 years before I started high school. Freshman year was a blast, so I kept with it. I never wanted it to end,” he said.

According to football head coach Kevin Macy, he recognized Garcia’s talent early on. “He always was a camp favorite. He just had that intensity. He took everything so seriously, and it was not playtime for him. You could always tell that he wanted to be good. Every year, we looked forward to him coming back to camp, because he was so into it,” he said.

Garcia, who played safety, said that the position offers many challenges. “The hardest part of playing safety this year was that on a week to week basis, the safety needs to know how to set up others on defense. So, every week, I had to learn the game plan in 1 to 2 days, just so that I could help others learn it, and get on the right track,” he said.

Macy said that Garcia managed the position well. “He just has an instinct for the game, especially when you are playing that safety position. Everyone knows of him as a hitter, but when you are playing on a hash, the way we do it, there is a lot of responsibility. He had an instinct for coverage and was a fearless hitter,” he said.

Renno said that Garcia has a knack for the game. “Tiger primarily played safety, and had very good vision for where the ball was going to go. He has great athleticism and was a Ronnie Lott type safety in his ability to produce big hits,” he said, referring to former NFL player Ronnie Lott, a 10-year safety for the Niners.

Senior JV Baldwin, a 4-year defensive teammate of Garcia, admires his captain’s leadership. “He was the captain of the defense. He always knew where everyone had to be. He always knew the game plan going in. He always had a good mind to play back there, because playing safety [means that] you have to be a student of the game,” he said.

According to Maxpreps.com, in his 2 years on varsity, Garcia recorded 3 fumble recoveries and 9 interceptions.

Garcia did have some disappointments during his high school career however. Heading into his senior year he wasn’t even sure he would be able to play. “During the summer, I had a pretty rough shoulder injury that set me back. I could not do anything football related, and that was pretty rough, especially going into my senior year,” Garcia explained.

Garcia added, “I wanted to be out there on the field, but I just could not do it because of my shoulder [injury]. It was great that right as the season began, I was able to play.”

Fortunately, Garcia recovered and was able to contribute to a magical season that included playing in the CIF State Championship game against El Capitain.

With less than 1 minute left in the 4th quarter, the score was tied at 28, and El Capitain’s offense was inside Campolindo’s 15 yard line. El Capitain attempted a stretch run to the right. Garcia delivered the hit that caused a fumble. The ball was scooped up by his defensive teammate and returned 85 yards for a touchdown. Campolindo won the title, 35-28.

Though it was his hit that caused the fumble, Garcia insists the play was a team effort. “Earlier in the game, they had scored on that same play, and were hoping to score on it again. We were expecting it more, and the defensive end, Tyler Petite, made a great play by forcing the running back to change his direction. When he stopped moving his feet, I hit him low. It was not until 10 seconds later that I realized the ball was out,” he said.

“I think that it speaks for his ability to always be at the right place at the right time. The great athletic awareness put him in the position to make the play that really won the state football game,” Renno said.

Macy said that the game winning play is an excellent symbol of Garcia’s postseason. “It was a perfect ending. He had a great playoff run. He was on fire through the playoffs. He would even say that was not one of his biggest hits, but it was maybe a perfect way for things to finish out. He and Remotto were the two toughest kids during the playoff stretch, and for the two of them to combine on the play was sweet justice,” he said.

Baldwin agreed, “He just knows where everything is. If it is a run play, he knows where the running back is going to be. If it is a pass play down the field, he knows where the receiver is going to be,” he said.

Despite Garcia’s football talent, he is also noteworthy for his basketball skills, which he has honed since he was 5 years old.

Renno said that Garcia’s will to win made him a strong basketball player. “Tiger is a great competitor, so on the basketball court, he demonstrated that with stellar defense. He had a surprising ability to be at the position at the right time,” he said.

According to Garcia, basketball success depends more on his endurance fitness. “The hardest part for me was training for basketball, because it is much different from football. In basketball, there is more marathon-running, and in football, there is just stop and start drills,” he said.

Senior center Chris Hansen said that Garcia brought leadership to the basketball team, which made a difference. “He’s got one of the strongest mindsets that I have seen. In the locker room, he is always locked in. He is always thinking about how he can help the team,” Hansen said.

Garcia admits that extended playoff runs in back to back seasons was difficult.  The structure of the basketball playoffs, with games twice a week, was particularly exhausting. “It definitely brings an extra challenge, because you have to game plan for twice as many games than as you do in football. It is definitely less game planning in-between games, but it is harder because there are so many more opponents,” he said.

According to Garcia, his strength in basketball, like football, is his defense. “I have always had a strength on defense in one on one match ups, because I am more lengthy, quick, and taller than most guards. I try to pride myself on defense,” he said.

According to Maxpreps, Garcia shot 2 for 5 from the floor, and scored 5 points in the 70-57 loss to Damien in the CIF State Championship game.

Though Garcia is involved in elite level athletics for 2 out of the 3 high school sport seasons, he still manages to be a star in the classroom as well. “For the most part, I have been a Scholar Athlete for all 4 years. It is tough, because it is non-weighted, and it does not [weigh] AP classes,” he said.

Macy said that Garcia’s academic awards reflect his character. “He is dedicated in every level. Whatever he does in his life, he does it as good as he can. He does not cheat any process,” he said.

Garcia said that the key to academic success is to avoid procrastination. “After football, I do my homework immediately when I get home. For basketball, I do my homework right after school, because basketball [practice] is late. If you fall out of that rhythm, you just cannot get work done,” he said.

Recently, Garcia committed to the University California [UC] Davis for football.

According to Garcia, there were many reasons for signing with UC Davis. “Davis had a lot of options that I loved. I wanted to play Division 1 football, get a top level education, and have a community that I could fit into. The football coach [Ron Gould] is a great man,” he said.

Macy said that he is excited to watch Garcia play at the collegiate level. “He started with us as a little kid in the summer youth camps. I love this idea that he is going to continue to play football, because I have been watching him play since he was a fourth grader. I am excited to watch him play, and is a great excuse for me to get up there and watch some football,” he said.

Macy added that UC Davis is a great fit for Garcia not only for football, but socially as well. “From day one, I thought that it was going to be a perfect fit for him. My son went to UC Davis, and I like the college up there, and I think that Tiger is going to like it. It is a nice fit for him academically, socially, and [has a great] lifestyle. It is a place where he will be able to play football,” he said.

Baldwin said that he is excited to see Garcia play for UC Davis. “That is great for him. I could not be more proud of Tiger. That is everyone’s dream, to play Division 1 football,” he said.

With all the success, Garcia remains grounded. Renno explained, “For having the amount of athletic success that he has, he remains a very humble kid. He is just a great kid to be around.”

Hansen agreed: “He is one of the most caring people you will ever meet. He has one of the most accomplished backgrounds at the school, but you will never hear him say a word to another kid about himself, and he will always put others before him.”