The Marcos de Niza linebacking corps was, well, productive in 2014. Junior James Reynosa tacked on 86 tackles, senior Andrew Rodriguez, the “heart and soul” of the defense by head coach Sean Morin, placed ninth in Division-II in the category with 127. But leading the way was junior Jacob Hernandez with 132 tackles.
“He would put a head through a wall if you told him to. That’s a great thing to have,” Marcos de Niza head football coach Sean Morin said.
“He’s a tough kid and has a nose for the football. He’s a really, really strong inside and I just look for him to shut things down inside and spread the offense to make them go sideways.”
Hernandez and Reynosa return, and are expected to continue their dominance on the field, but there is a void left by Andrew Rodriguez, a loud, energetic void, that Hernandez hopes he can fill.
“Last year, I wasn’t so vocal mainly on the field, but this year I’m trying to improve myself being vocal,” Hernandez said. “That’s what I learned from Andrew because his vocal (skills) and his intensity was basically a domino effect so once it affected him, it affected everyone on the defense.”
Playing off of Rodriguez’s energy was crucial to the Padres, and Hernandez called their chemistry “deadly”. This season, the quiet leader who let his play speak for him is trying to light a fire under the rest of his defense with his words.
“Andrew had his strengths as well, he was very charismatic and energetic,” Morin said. “Like Jacob said, he wants to kindle that a little bit within himself and be more of a vocal lead, but when on the field, he is a leader by example.”
As he continues to develop those leadership skills – both on the field and in the huddle, look for Hernadez to put the time in now to build off his stellar junior campaign when the regular season rolls around.