Two years ago, Angel Guzman was an academically ineligible sophomore stuck on the Wilson football sidelines. Tonight, he will take the field as a senior captain when the Bruins visit Millikan for a second-place Moore League showdown.
“I was struggling,” Guzman said of his sophomore year. “It motivated me because I noticed what I was missing out on. I wanted to come back and make my senior year my best year.”
With the help of his coaches and teachers, Guzman got his grades back up and won a starting defensive end position as a junior. He was then named a team captain his teammates this season, and has a team-high 4.5 sacks as a speed rusher.
“We never had him on our radar as a starter,” Wilson coach Mark Ziegenhagen said. “Now he’s on every special team, and plays every down of defense.”
Guzman was born and raised in Long Beach, and cultivated his love for the sport by playing flag football at Jefferson Middle School.
“I noticed how quick and shifty I was off the edge,” Guzman said. “I just had a passion for football more than any other sport. My mom was worried about it at first, but I just told her it’s something I really wanted to do. Now she comes to all of my games and supports me.”
When he arrived at Wilson, Guzman was moved to linebacker on the freshman team. He said it was a lot to get used to in a small about of time, and even more nerve-wracking because it was his first year of contact football.
“I’m not going to lie, I was a little worried about hitting,” Guzman said. “It took me awhile to really get into it. Once a coach told me to just give 100 percent because you have less of a chance of getting hurt that way, it helped. Timid gets you hurt. You have to give it your all no matter what, and whatever happens happens.”
Guzman hit a roadblock on and off of the field in his sophomore year when he suffered a knee injury while becoming academically ineligible. He said that watching the seniors lead, and make the most out of their time at Wilson, inspired him to get his act together.
“Football has made me a better person in general,” Guzman said. “It’s taught me so much about being humble, being focused, being respectful and getting mentally tough.”
By taking the game more seriously, Guzman found himself improving rapidly. He started at defensive end for the second half of his junior season, and made it a goal to come back and be a senior captain this year.
“I really worked hard to be a captain,” Guzman said. “I wanted to have a big position as a senior, as someone who can be looked up to, and someone’s role model.”
“He’s real quiet, and leads by example,” Ziegenhagen said.
Guzman said he now wants to study science in school, and hopefully get a chance to play at the next level because one of his favorite television shows is Last Chance U. But first, he’s focused on Millikan.
“I’m a really competitive person and I just want to beat the guy in front of me,” Guzman said. “I want to make the most of my last year of football at Wilson.”