Defensive effort pays off for Douglas senior
On just about any athletic field, much of the glory goes to offensive players who score. Now, meet Douglas High senior Mario Meza Cervantes, whose preference for defense is taking him on to play soccer for Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Ore.
“I’ve always played defense,” Meza Cervantes said after signing a letter-of-intent on Thursday before a gathering of friends and family in the high school commons. “I’d rather defend than score. I like the intensity that you get. When they attack and come at you one-on-one, I like that feeling of accomplishment when you take the ball away or stop them from scoring a goal.”
Douglas coach Chase Zumpft believes this is a good landing spot.
“I think he made a good decision,” Zumpft said. “He definitely has the talent to play at the next level and this is a good stepping stone. It’s good for him to get away, see something new and get that experience.”
Art Mota, head coach of a Blue Mountain program that is heading into its second year, is glad to have to have the Douglas recruit. There is a connection since assistant coach Austin Shick is a graduate of Douglas and Oregon State University.
“We’re very excited to have Mario coming here,” Mota said.”This is still a new program we’re trying to build up. Now, we want to take that next step and contend for the playoffs and everything starts from the back. It’s crucial to have a strong back line and goalkeeper if you want to be successful.”
Meza Cervantes played an important role during his three varsity seasons at Douglas, including a team that went 4-10-5 overall last fall. He came into his own as a center defender and team captain.
“We played way better than our record showed,” he said.
Mental toughness is a major attribute from last year to this year, if you ask Zumpft.
“We always tell the kids that the game needs to be fun and they need to enjoy what they’re doing,” the coach said. “Mario has matured to a point where, even if he makes a mistake, he can shrug it off and move on band play for the love of the game. He’s a mentally tough kid who never gives up.”
Now, the 6-foot, 150-pound Meza Cervantes is looking to contribute for the Blue Mountain Timberwolves, who went 1-12-1 during their inaugural season in 2017. Mota coached a team that featured players from Oregon, Idaho, Washington, California and one from Australia (Clay Hall, who doubles as a midfielder and rodeo bull rider).
Now the Timberwolves have three new men from Nevada. Zumpft sees a bright future ahead.
“Mario is a smart young man who, I think, is going to do well in his future no matter what he does.”