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March 26, 2023

Locals shine at Central Coast All-Star game | High school football

Eric Viveros was selected to represent Pajaro Valley

SALINAS—It’s been more than two months since Pajaro Valley High senior Eric Viveros last suited up in a Grizzlies football uniform.

However, the itch to play one last time never left the standout lineman and he had one more chance to shine on the field at the annual Central Coast All-Star High School Football Game at Rabobank Stadium on Jan. 28.

Viveros and players from local high schools in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties competed in the 37th installment of the game.

“We got to play one more game, I met new people,” he said. “There was a lot of smack talking back and forth but it was part of the game. It was just a very fun experience.” 

Both teams prepared hard for the past two weeks and were playing for a good cause, as well. Viveros was on Team Coastal Kids Home Care led by North Monterey County High head coach Juan Cuevas.

“We all knew we had to win for that charity just because of what we were representing that night,” Viveros said.

Viveros was selected by Cuevas to play and represent Coast Kids Home Care, which provides assistance to meet unique needs of medically fragile children in the comfort of their home.

Team Coastal Kids soundly defeated Team South County Animal Rescue, which featured St. Francis High senior Nethaniel Madrigal-Hernandez, Watsonville High senior Joel Salas, Aptos High senior Isaiah Barnes and Monte Vista Christian seniors Kyle Recotta and Reagan Rivera.  

Cuevas said the whole reason he’s in education and coaches is because he loves kids. 

“Our charity this year is just another opportunity to help kids,” he said. 

Cuevas mentioned the all-star game is also another opportunity for the football players to get in one last game before calling it a career.

“It really is special, the whole tri-county area comes out to support their kids. It’s a tremendous atmosphere,” he said.

Cuevas said he was blessed to have some knowledgeable assistant coaches helping him direct a large group of kids coming from all over the tri-county area.

This year he was able to connect more with each of the players by walking around during practice, getting to know them more on an individual level.

“This year it was nothing but hugs and smiles,” Cuevas said. “Man, it felt great. It really does. It’s so damn rewarding.”

Viveros said practice was awkward at first until he began building relationships with his position group, including those from the opposing side.

“I just got to get out of my comfort zone and meet people from different schools like Gonzales, like Soledad. People that aren’t just from Watsonville,” he said. 

Viveros wants to extend his football career at Cabrillo College and hopefully beyond, but it depends how he feels about the game along with what major he chooses to focus on.

It meant a lot to Viveros to get chosen for the all-star game because he felt there were people who doubted him throughout the season. 

“I feel like I proved them wrong,” he said. “I also feel like I put it on for Watsonville. I feel like I represented them that night.”

Cuevas noted that Pajaro Valley is a small school that gets overlooked in the Pacific Coast Athletic League, and in Watsonville. He said they don’t get a lot of attention that they deserve. 

Cuevas mentioned he’s in a similar situation at North Monterey County High, which is on the outskirts of Castroville.

“You get to coach whoever shows up on your campus,” he said. 

Cuevas coached against Viveros during the regular season. The Condors coaching staff paid extra close attention to the standout lineman and was scouted in person during the Grizzlies’ season opener against Watsonville High.

“[Viveros] was flying around on defense and he was just pancaking dudes on the [offensive] line,” Cuevas said. “I was like, ‘Holy smoke, we gotta get back and go to work. Make sure No. 50 doesn’t wreck the game for us.”

Cuevas already knew that if he was given Pajaro Valley as a school to pick from in the draft, he would pick Viveros in a heartbeat.  

“That kid is strong as a bull,” Cuevas said. “It was a pleasure coaching him.”

Juan Reyes
A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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