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PREP FOOTBALL '97: SOUTH COAST LEAGUE

Brothers Come Together for Family, Team

San Clemente starters Oscar and Daniel Montecinos make their father proud.

September 09, 1997|MICHAEL ITAGAKI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SAN CLEMENTE — In the one-upmanship game of sibling rivalry, Oscar and Daniel Montecinos don't seem to play anymore.

"We stopped beating on each other a few years ago," Daniel said.

Oscar, San Clemente's 5-foot-7, 150-pound senior quarterback, and Daniel, a 6-0, 215-pound junior outside linebacker, have turned their attention to opponents.

Both are excited about the Tritons' potential to challenge the South Coast League's elite this season. But they're also looking forward to the season because of the joy it brings to their father, Daniel Sr.

"Our Dad gets so excited," Oscar said. "He just loves to watch us play. And to look up in the stands and see him smiling, watching us play together. . . . "

That happiness is something Oscar and Daniel have longed for. They live together in a small two-bedroom house in San Clemente with their father. That came after they watched their parents separate two years ago.

The Montecinos brothers are not completely estranged from their mother, Rosa, who also lives in South Orange County with their 20-year-old sister, Elvia. However, they spend most of their time with their father, who is on the road frequently because he is a truck driver.

"But he makes time to come see us play," Oscar said.

Daniel Sr. has a lot to watch. Oscar started as a wide receiver for the football team last season, at point guard for the basketball team and at third base for the baseball team. Daniel started as a sophomore at linebacker last season, played basketball and ran the 400 meters for the track team.

"In this day where athletes specialize in one sport just to earn a scholarship, these kids are playing three sports," San Clemente football Coach Mark McElroy said. "And look at Oscar. He's what, 5-7, 150 pounds, and he's starting in three varsity sports for us here? You just want to root for those kinds of kids."

This season, Oscar has some big shoes to fill at quarterback. Chris Hayward, who passed for 2,527 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, has graduated and is at Nevada Las Vegas.

"We've been blessed with some great quarterbacks here like Hayward, Chris Boden [Villanova] and Jeff Carlin [Navy]," McElroy said. "But Oscar is the most athletic quarterback I've had."

McElroy's superlatives don't stop with Oscar.

"Daniel could possibly develop into the best outside linebacker we've had here," McElroy said. "And he's only a junior."

One of McElroy's finest was Ryan Klaasen, who graduated in 1993 and now starts at Oregon.

"Daniel is very aggressive," McElroy said. "He leads by example. He commands a presence in the defensive huddle and the kids look to him for leadership."

McElroy is perfectly comfortable with Oscar leading the offense, though he is switching from wide receiver, where he started last season, to quarterback.

"Oscar is a tough kid," McElroy said. "He's not afraid to put everything on the line, even if he's going against someone like Junior Seau.

"He's not a big rah-rah guy, but he understands what his responsibilities are. The kids just respect him."

Juggling three sports each and their studies, the brothers keep each other accountable.

"We're up late at night together, studying," Oscar said. "After school there's practice or games and you don't get home till late; it's hard."

Still, Oscar maintains a B average and Daniel said he improved his grades last year after struggling his freshman year. "I almost got straight A's last year," Daniel said.

Those will be important if Daniel continues to improve and becomes a college prospect. But Oscar isn't over-focusing on the future.

"This will be the last chance I have to play with my brother," Oscar said. "I want to make it fun while it lasts."

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