Bronco football fans attending games this fall at Coast Union’s stadium were treated to the special talents of a 6-foot, 1-inch senior wide receiver who had a knack for leaping high to snag footballs out of the air before opponents could take those catches away from him.
Roberto Quintero, a likeable, team-oriented player, also had a flair for making difficult tackles that saved long runs and potential touchdowns against tough opponents.
In eight-man football, with its shorter field and fewer defenders, making solid tackles and defending against the pass ranks perhaps even higher in importance than scoring.
Quintero was clearly a player with skills backed by an abundance of self-confidence. In fact his defensive acumen — his tackling and pass defense skills — led to him being placed on the All-Coast Valley League second team on defense.
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Coach Thom Holt notified him of the award when he sent an electronic file to all team members. Quintero, however, couldn’t open the Excel spreadsheet file and was “really bummed out and I was asking everybody if I made all league.”
“Octavio (Villalvazo) could open his file, said that I had made it, and I was really happy,” he said. “It was one of my goals from the beginning of the year. I set a goal that I would get an award for every sport I went out for. So I put all my effort into football and tried my hardest.”
Last season was something of a disappointment for Quintero because the scheme the coach put in place didn’t involve throwing the ball to him very often. That changed this season as Holt, in his first year as head coach, saw Quintero’s talent and directed quarterbacks Alexis Mireles and Jack MacKinnon to throw the ball his way more often.
Quintero is also the goalkeeper on the Coast Union varsity soccer team, which has had a positive impact on his football skills.
“Me and my dad talk all the time about soccer. He takes me out, and we practice. He plays soccer too, in fact he is playing soccer today.”
I was actually surprised at how well I could catch footballs and just bring them in.
Roberto Quintero on using his skills as a soccer goalie in football
His father taught him the precise technique for how a soccer goalkeeper should catch a ball, he explained, demonstrating by putting his hands together, with thumbs touching and fingers spread out like a “W.”
You don’t let the soccer ball come to you; rather, “you attack it,” he said. What he discovered this season is that learning to catch a booming, powerful kick in soccer aided his football skills.
“It really, really, really helped me in football. I was actually surprised at how well I could catch footballs and just bring them in.”
In Coast’s game against Fresno Christian, Quintero caught the only touchdown, intercepted a pass and made five tackles. Against Laguna Blanca, he caught seven passes and had three tackles, and against Riverdale Christian he had an interception and five tackles.
In the Maricopa game, Quintero caught a touchdown pass, kicked three extra points, and made five tackles. In the final game — a loss on homecoming night that bounced the Broncos out of the playoffs — he had three tackles.
His favorite memory this season was his 37-yard field goal in the waning moments to beat Valley Christian Academy 31-29, an away game. It was the only field goal of the season for the Broncos. In that game he made four tackles and had four receptions.
“That field goal cleared the crossbar by inches,” Quintero recalled.
“The coach said, ‘Can you make it?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I think so.’” Quintero said in practice he was making 50-yard field goals — “But that was with no pressure. In the VCA game, I was going for height; I wasn’t going for power at all.”
When he completes high school, Quintero plans to pursue a degree in kinesiology, the study of human movement.
“I want to be an athletic trainer, and be the first responder on the field when a player is down. Also, after a game, I want to teach players how training can help them avoid injuries.”
This report is Special to The Cambrian.