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PLAYER PROFILES

For Santa Paula, It's Been an Oscar Performance

November 14, 1996|TRIS WYKES

SANTA PAULA — Football season usually begins in August, on practice fields and in classrooms. But Oscar Santa Rosa of Santa Paula High began the 1996 season earlier in the summer, on the town's darkened streets.

During the day, Santa Rosa worked an eight-hour shift in the housekeeping department of a nursing home, causing him to miss three weeks of the Cardinals' summer conditioning program.

To make up for his absence, Santa Rosa would lift weights when he got home, then run 1 1/2 miles to Coach Hoppy Mumford's house and back.

"I'd ring the doorbell and tell him, 'Hey Hop, I'm here,' and then start running again before my legs got tired from standing around," Santa Rosa said.

Mumford also made Santa Rosa run a combined 20 miles on the track after preseason practices.

But the 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior never complained.

"I got a very guilty conscience being away from my teammates [in the summer]," Santa Rosa said. "I didn't want them to think they did all that work and I just got to walk right in."

Santa Rosa has worked over opponents this season and leads Santa Paula with 93 tackles entering its regular season finale against neighboring Fillmore (3-6) on Friday night.

The Cardinals (5-4) will likely advance to the Southern Section Division X playoffs as the Frontier League's No. 3 representative, their first postseason berth since 1992.

Santa Rosa won a Frontier League wrestling title at 160 pounds as a freshman and has put his grappling skills to work on opposing linemen.

"You gotta hit 'em real low in the stomach so they stand straight up and you can get by," Santa Rosa said.

Santa Rosa's work ethic leaves little chance that he will slow down in the playoffs, despite being double-teamed.

A routine evening for him involves sleeping for four or five hours after practice and dinner, then rising in the middle of the night to do homework and lift weights in his garage.

"My neighbor used to wonder what was going on when she heard metal banging around but she didn't really complain," said Santa Rosa, who squats 560 pounds. "I just like to work hard."

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