OTHELLO — Bernie Garza Jr. sprinted forward from his midfield position to join an attack with teammate Juan Tapia.
Head coach Bernie Garza Sr. commented from the sideline how his son previously would have hung back on a similar play earlier in his high school career. But it’s senior year, time to leave it all on the field, even if it’s only a rainy scrimmage in the middle of spring break.
“I’ve seen what it almost feels like to go far,” Garza Jr. said. “In the past, we’ve gone to postseason and stuff and it hurts every time when we’re so close and we lose and it’s just that thought of wanting to keep going. It’s here for this year and that’s what we’re trying to do this year, just keep going and go through the postseason and make it to the Final Four and maybe win a state championship.”
Garza Jr. was a ball boy for the 2015 Huskies squad that placed fourth in state.
“He knows what it takes,” Garza Sr. said.
The aggressiveness shown in practice has translated to games.
Garza Jr. has been one of the few Columbia Basin soccer players to begin the season in rhythm despite the inclement weather forcing teams inside prior to the start of games. So far, Garza Jr. has totaled six goals and eight assists, in addition to the intangibles he brings to the team.
“He was always the younger kid and the forward scores all the goals and I just give him the ball, give him the ball and this year he just says, ‘You know what? I’m not waiting for the guys to score. I’m just going to take a shot; I’m just going to score,’” Garza Sr. said. “He’s been scoring most of the goals from the midfield position where he gives the pass to either Juanito or Christian (Arvizu) and then he just keeps on going, overlaps and then he finds himself in front of the goal and he’s got a good touch.”
Garza Jr.’s improved confidence can be traced back to the fall and winter. During the football season, he canned a game-winning field goal against Ellensburg and, most notably, won an 182-pound state championship at Mat Classic XXXI.
“When you’re wrestling, you qualify for state and you don’t place, but then you qualify and you win the state title you say, ‘Hey, I really am that good,’” Garza Sr. said. “In soccer season it’s like, ‘I am that good. I’m older, I’m better than you, I can beat you, I can score on you,’ so he’s got that little chip on his shoulder.”
What’s next is still undetermined for Garza Jr. He has been accepted to Central Washington University, however, Arizona Christian University has offered him a partial wrestling scholarship. The financial aspect has muddied the water some.
That comes later.
Now, the Garzas and Othello soccer eye a return trip to the state tournament. After a shaky non-league start, the Huskies are 2-1 in Central Washington Athletic Conference play and are tied with four other teams for second place.
“I told him this is your last year, you’ve got to step it up,” Garza Sr. said. “And he has been.”