Garcia rises to occasion at Shrine Game
The former Dayton star had five carries for 63 yards to help the West all-stars on a live regional telecast Saturday in Baker City.
“I miss being over there (in Baker) already,” the 5-foot-6 Garcia said. “I made a lot of friends and I think some of those guys will be friends the rest of my life.”
Garcia plans to attend Lane Community College and focus on baseball. And yet, particularly after Saturday’s success, he wouldn’t be opposed to playing more football if that option were to resurface.
“I’ve definitely been thinking about that,” Garcia said. “I’ve heard some (college) coaches were (at the game). I mean, I’m still going to Lane, so I’m not really talking about next year, but after that who knows? If it is my last game, that’s definitely a good ending point.”
Garcia spent the Shrine Game week rooming with Pirates teammate Jered White, who was nursing a right knee injury and saw limited playing time.
Garcia’s big moment came midway through the fourth quarter when he ran backwards to grab a punt at his own 4-yard line. He turned to see two defenders bearing down on him and he split the seam between them and raced 49 yards. That set up West’s go-ahead touchdown drive, which he capped with an 8-yard run. He later added a 31-yard touchdown run.
“It wasn’t my plan to let the ball get behind me,” Garcia said. “(The defenders) few by and I split between them and saw green after that. It’s not something I would do in a regular game but since it was an all-star game I thought I might as well have fun.”
White was unsure whether he would play. Doctors told him he wasn’t at risk of further damage to his meniscus and cleared him. He got in about 15 plays and caught one pass for seven yards.
“It was a blast,” White said of the Shrine Game experience. “It was really fun. After the game I took a photo with our ball boy Zach, who is a Shriner’s (Hospital) kid, and the reason we play the game is for kids like him. Going to the hospital was eye-opening.”
White plans to attend Linfield in the fall.
Dayton coach Brodie Unger watched the game on TV.
“I was pretty proud of Jered because he’s been dealt a tough hand but it didn’t surprise me he was able to contribute a little bit,” Unger said.
Unger admitted to a moment of angst watching Garcia field the punt from the 4-yard line but said he was excited to watch the result.
“It’s always exciting when you see someone compete like that and be successful,” Unger said. “Forrest is one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever coached, the quickest, and the toughest, pound for pound.”
On the broadcast, the announcer was quick to point out that Garcia was the shortest player in the game.
Unger said Garcia has proven time after time that he shouldn’t be underestimated.
“I’ve been hearing it for three years that (Garcia) is too short,” Unger said. “I’m sure he’s heard it for 10.”
No one was bigger Saturday in Baker City.