He’ll try this season to do something none of the other long line of talented Chiefs quarterbacks has ever done — lead the team to a CIF football championship. Molina doesn’t expect to do it alone. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 “I have some great teammates who have the work ethic and talent necessary to accomplish it,” Molina said after a Saturday morning intrasquad scrimmage. “We have a lot of people back from last year, and our coaching is the best in the league by far. In addition to the fundamentals, they give us another perspective of the game.” Last season, as Santa Fe finished 9-2-1 to climax a its fourth consecutive 5-0 Del Rio League season and a berth in the CIF Southern Section Division VII quarterfinals, Molina completed 67 of 171 passes (39.2 percent) for 1,227 yards and seven touchdowns. He was intercepted seven times. “Last year, he was developing his skills and gaining experience,” Chiefs coach Jack Mahlstede said. “This season, he understands the offense better. He can change plays (at the line of scrimmage) to get us out of bad situations. And he’s one of the better long passers in our sprint-out offense. “He’s a little cocky, but that’s not bad. He’s got it under control. He is respected by his teammates. He comes from a very strong family situation, two very interested parents.” Both of Molina’s parents are Santa Fe graduates. His mother, Sonia, played softball and volleyball for the Chiefs. His father, Angel, played football and baseball and also wrestled. ANGEL Molina’s favorite sport is baseball, but he feels he’s a better wrestler. Interesting stuff, considering he also is the starting quarterback for Santa Fe High School — the area’s top-ranked team that is bidding for a fifth consecutive Del Rio League championship. Molina says that tradition plays heavily in the Santa Fe program’s success. “Like my parents, I’ve got cousins and uncles and aunts who went to Santa Fe,” Molina said. “And a lot of the other players on the team also have relatives like that who went to Santa Fe. And a lot of our coaches played at Santa Fe. There’s a lot of pride involved.” Does Mahlstede believe that Molina has a shot at achieving his goal? “It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time,” Mahlstede said. “Throughout the years, we’ve had some great teams, some very good athletes. We haven’t had an abundance of scholarship kids, but we’ve had good kids who rise to the occasion and make the sacrifices necessary for the team to be successful. “Molina is that type of a kid. Every good quarterback has different strengths. We just try to analyze what needs to be done for the good of the team and then utilize our guys’ strengths in that area.” Mahlstede says that while Molina started as a sophomore, he has been brought along slowly. He wasn’t expected to win the games for the Chiefs. They didn’t want to put him in a position to lose them. “Last year, we gave him a restricted role so he could be successful,” Mahlstede explained. “This year, there is nothing he can’t do. He’s even going to play some defense.” Molina is one of several local players whom their teammates look to for leadership and performance, the guy expected to be the team’s focal point. Other teams with go-to players at the quarterback position include El Rancho (A.J. Toscano), California (Mitch LeVier), La Serna (Matt Petropulos), Pioneer (Diego Sauceda) and La Habra (R.J. Benedict). At Cantwell, it might be Tommy Aldama, a returning team MVP who plays wide receiver, defensive back and is also the place-kicker. At Schurr, it could be running back Steven Cano. Tight end/linebacker Matt Carrillo is the main man at St. Paul. All of them accept their role of responsibility with a not-always-visible sense of pride and merely say, “Let the games begin.” — Roger Murray can be reached at (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3046, or by e-mail at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!