Jordan Fuentes has been the workhorse for Live Oak High’s football team for the better part of two seasons.
In that span, he’s had several games in which he’s carried the ball over 20 times in a contest and taken some big hits along the way. That’s what makes Fuentes’ durability and ability to hold onto the ball all the more remarkable for an Acorns team that is 2-0 entering a non-league contest against Los Gatos High on Friday.
Other than missing a couple of games last season after getting horse collared on a tackle and only a handful of fumbles since he started his varsity career, the senior running back/linebacker has been as durable and reliable as they come.
Given his 5-foot-11, 155-pound frame—small by football standards—Fuentes has needed to be smart during the run of play.
“When I’m running the ball, I have pretty good vision and I’m able to see who is coming at me and able to protect myself well and lower my shoulder,” he said. “And even if I don’t see them, I run low so they’re hitting my shoulder or my upper chest so I’m not really taking a big hit even though it may seem like I am from far away.”
Fuentes rushed for 190 yards on 24 carries in a season-opening 35-14 win over Gilroy and followed that up with 64 yards rushing on only four carries in a 55-0 victory over Gunn on Sept. 2. He has four touchdowns in two games, a terrific start in his final year of prep football.
Fuentes’ impact extends to the defensive side of the ball, where he plays linebacker. He routinely ranks high on the team in total tackles, including ones for losses. Even though Fuentes loves getting into the end zone like everyone else, making a play at linebacker is equally rewarding.
“I love the feeling of getting big stops and it’s always an amazing feeling tackling the opposing running back and quarterback in the backfield,” he said. “There is something about stopping the other team and getting a four-and-out (forcing a punt). When our offense isn’t doing well, our defense can keep everyone in the game. That’s a good feeling to know we can help the team like that.”
Instincts play a huge role in Fuentes being a difference-maker on both sides of the ball, along with his ability to absorb hits and stay on the field. On one of his fourth-quarter carries against Gilroy, Fuentes landed hard on the turf after a big gain. The impact jarred him for a couple of seconds.
“I heard one of our coaches in the background saying, ‘Get up, you’re OK,’” Fuentes said. “All my instincts kicked in there and I got up.”
In the Gilroy game, Fuentes did most of his damage in the second half, accumulating 143 of his 190 rushing yards. He had TD runs of 5 and 57 yards and added a 50-yard TD reception late in the second quarter. The latter play was critical as it gave the Acorns a 14-7 lead entering halftime.
“The guys on offense knew we had to make a play and that was the time,” Fuentes said. “We ran that little post route around the middle and scored on that play, and that was the push we needed. We kind of went off after that.”
Fuentes was quick to point out and credit Live Oak’s offensive line and tight ends as key to his success.
“Without guys like JJ Becks, Johnny Jaime, Zack Enderle, Kade Darman, Dariano Garcia, Luke Richey and Collin Fisher, a lot of this wouldn’t be possible,” he said.
The physical nature of the game means players like Fuentes need to take care of their bodies for optimum recovery. The morning after each game, Fuentes realizes just how much of a toll playing football takes on him. That’s why Fuentes makes sure to focus on active recovery in the days after each game.
“I massage my body (with a massage gun), use the hot-cold method, and take ice baths,” he said. “That helps to heal the body so after a couple of days I’m not too sore.”
Fuentes said he’s always had trouble gaining weight but made it a point this last off-season to get bigger.
“I got noticeably stronger in the weight room and in games I can tell I’m stronger than a lot of people,” said Fuentes, referring to the Gilroy game in which he stiff-armed a defender and gained an extra 10 to 15 yards. “On paper, I know I might not be massive, but deep down I know I’m strong.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]