Just before Alberto Ocon was born, the earth shook. It should have been taken as a warning.
Because now Ocon, a junior offensive lineman at Glendale High, leaves opponents quaking in their cleats.
"He could have a big future in front of him," Glendale High football Coach Don Shoemaker says.
His past is already memorable, stretching back three weeks before he was born. Ocon's parents lived in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, at the time a mammoth earthquake leveled the city on Dec. 23, 1972. The quake killed more than 6,000 people and caused nearly $1 billion in damages--and forever stamped Alberto with the nickname "temblor," the Spanish word for earthquake.
"The temblor" made an immediate impact on Glendale's football program, rumbling onto the team last year to earn All-Pacific League honors as a sophomore.
Ocon is the cousin of swimmer Lawrence Ocon, who set numerous water polo scoring records before graduating from Glendale two years ago (see related story). And he's not the first in his family to give football a try. Lawrence's older brother, Luis, was a wide receiver for the Dynamiters before teammate Duane Bickett, now with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, ended his career with a jolting tackle in practice. Two of Alberto's uncles also played at Glendale.
"The young people in both families have been very successful," Glendale Principal Sam Harvey says.
Ocon's standout rookie season is adding to the family legend--as well as helping to make up for the years he spent waiting to play.
"I never really got a chance to try football until I got to high school. I was too heavy and too young for any of the local (youth) teams," says Ocon, 16, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 265 pounds.
Ocon plays either the strong tackle or guard on Glendale's offensive line, and younger brother Max, a sophomore, plays the quick, or "weak," tackle. (First cousins Alan Arellano and Iggy Guerra also play at times on the Glendale line.) And although Ocon sees some action on defense, Shoemaker maintains "his position is offense. That's where he'll play in college."
For which college is a subject Shoemaker and Ocon will discuss in detail after this season.
"I know the Oregon schools are interested in him and I know the Arizona schools are interested in him," Shoemaker says. "The schools . . . said that if he's a player, they'll take a look at him."
They're likely to take a look at him in basketball and track as well. A forward on the junior varsity team last season, Ocon is a probable varsity letter-winner this winter. In track, he won the sophomore league title in the discus as a freshman but last year his season was cut short by injuries suffered in an auto accident.
However, football is the sport that will get him to college.
"Coach says if I get good grades and I play good football, then he thinks a Division I school should pick me up," says Ocon, a C-plus student. "If I have a much better year in league than I had last year, hopefully I'll get some kind of CIF recognition.
"And hopefully I'll look good for some college that might want me."