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PREP FOOTBALL '93: PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE : Success Is Relatively Easy for This Garcia

September 03, 1993|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Julio Garcia has been relishing this opportunity, a chance to step out of his brother's shadow and make his strides to glory.

Garcia is the tailback for Century, the defending Pacific Coast League champion, in its three-back offense.

It was in this power I-formation that the Centurions won six of their final seven games after opening the 1992 season 1-4-1. It is in this formation that they will start the 1993 season. And it is in this formation that Garcia hopes to have Julio on everyone's lips instead of Juan.

Julio is similar to his brother, who gained a school-record 1,220 yards in 1991. Julio, a senior, is more powerful but not quite as shifty. And both played defense and draw some comparison: Julio is a ferocious linebacker, selected a first-team all-leaguer a year ago; Juan, now a sophomore at Rancho Santiago College, was a second team All-Southern Section Division VII linebacker in 1991.

Despite wanting to establish his own identity, Julio still selected Juan's No. 44 as his jersey number, a testament to his respect and admiration for his brother.

"I would say they are right on par with each other after their junior year," said Bill Brown, who has coached both. "I don't think Julio minds comparisons, but wants to be looked at on his own merit."

On his own merit, Julio Garcia can stand on his own. He gained a team-high 725 yards rushing last year, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. That yardage--not among the county's best--is deceiving. Jekyll and Hyde Century played two seasons: the first, in which it scored 43 points in its first six games; and the second, in which it scored 179 points over the last seven games, including two playoff victories.

Trailing, 14-0, to Trabuco Hills in Week 6, Brown switched from a one-back to a three-back offense at halftime and started ramming the ball down the defense's throat. Century upset Trabuco Hills, 21-20.

"That was the most important game I've ever played," Garcia said. "It changed our whole season. We needed to know what victory felt like, and that one victory made us all feel like winners."

And now the team picks up where it left off and Garcia's quest begins. No more, he hopes, will someone on campus see him and say, 'Hey, Juan.'

"That kind of gets me mad," Julio said. "I feel like he got more publicity for the school. Maybe this year will help me get more well-known.

"I always looked up to my brother. Since Pop Warner when I was 10 and started playing with him, I really liked how he played. He was real focused, real intense out on the field."

That is Julio's strength, too, Brown said. It has helped him excel even though he didn't play during his sophomore year, which was spent at Bolsa Grande.

"When you consider he missed his sophomore year, he did some really fine things last year," Brown said. "He was just learning the game."

Meaning Julio should be much better this season.

"In the off-season, I've been working hard in the weight room, running on my own to get in shape," Garcia said. "I think the extra work I put in is really going to help me out.

"I was learning football last year. I never really played varsity football. It was hard for me to come in and play the positions that my brother did really good in. I wasn't ready for that. That put a lot of pressure on me. But I feel I learned a lot from last year, on both offense and defense, and that should help me a lot this year."

He said following in his brother's strides has been a heavy burden.

"I really do (want to be better than Juan)," Julio said. "When they talk about me, they talk about my brother--'Can you do it better, are you going to break his (12) records?' I'm going to work as hard as I can and see what happens from there."

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