Why wouldn't Bryan Arguello cover the onside kick that secured Villa Park's 21-14 season-opening victory over Valencia Thursday night? He did everything else.
Arguello, a 5-9, 165-pound senior, caught a touchdown pass, took an end reverse for another score, intercepted two passes, kicked three extra points, averaged over 45 yards a punt and returned a punt 15 yards.
Then afterward, he acted as if it was no big deal.
"It's a team game," he said. "We're excited about the season."
Villa Park Coach Pat Mahoney is excited to have Arguello on his team.
"He's not a big guy by stature," Mahoney said. "He just does everything so well. He's a very confident kid. He has great instincts and he knows the game. Sometimes, he improvises a little bit too much, but that's OK."
The first time Arguello touched the ball he scored, catching a six-yard fade pass from John Henry Jackson on the first play of the second quarter to give Villa Park a 7-0 lead.
The Arguello show continued on the Spartans' next series. A 15-yard punt return by Arguello set up his 62-yard touchdown run down the left sideline. Before the quarter ended, Arguello caught a slant pass that went for 34 yards. Four plays later, Ricky Campos scored from a yard out to give Villa Park a 21-0 halftime lead.
It would have seemed that Arguello was the last person Valencia would attack on defense. But on the Tigers first two possessions of the second half, quarterback Robert Hernandez went after Arguello.
On the fourth play of the third quarter, Arguello stepped in front of a sideline out pass and returned it 10 yards. After Jackson threw an interception, Hernandez (24 of 36, 240 yards) tried to hit Sonny Lopez deep for a quick six. Arguello, running stride for stride with Lopez, out-jumped Lopez for the ball on the Villa Park 15.
"Lopez is their guy, so I wasn't surprised they went to him," he said. "It was just one of those things. You get lucky sometimes."
Once Valencia started keeping the ball away from Arguello, it got back in the game. The Tigers scored twice in the last three minutes thanks to the combination of Hernandez to Lopez, who caught 12 passes for 164 yards.
Scott Parker (15 carries, 49 yards) scored Valencia's first touchdown on a two-yard run with 3:15 remaining. Lopez had the second on a 37-yard slant pass with 39 seconds left. The onside kick was a high floater that landed softly in Arguello's hands.
In the last two openers against Villa Park, Valencia won and tied the games in dramatic, last-minute fashion. But this time, Arguello was there to save the Spartans.