Courtesy of Rosie Valdez
Three generations of Madera Coyotes football players show off their helmets after a recent game. From left are grandfather George, grandson Marcus and son Matt.
Marcus Valdez represents more than just his team when he steps on the football field for the Madera Coyotes.
The junior is representing three generations of football players, following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father.
“They always push me a lot, they’re always there to guide me,” Marcus said about his father and grandfather. “They are some of my best coaches I’ve had. My grandpa is always trying to make me better, just telling me little things I need to work on. My dad is the same way.”
Football brings the Valdez family together, as they can often be seen studying film or watching games on TV.
“My cousins, uncles, my grandpa and my dad, we always talk about football,” Marcus said. “We always get together and watch games on Sundays.”
Marcus said it’s a big deal to follow in the footsteps of his family because his grandfather and father also played for the Coyotes, as he does now.
“I’m just continuing the tradition and it’s a big honor to me,” Marcus said. “It’s just crazy to me that we kept it going.”
Marcus’ grandfather, George, played for the Coyotes in the late 1960s. After teaching the game to his two sons, George is now enjoying his grandson’s progress at Madera High.
“It makes me feel good to know that he is continuing the tradition,” George said. “I’m proud.”
George said football taught him how to overcome adversity and it continued to do the same for the generations that followed.
“Marcus got hurt and had to sit out a couple of weeks. It bothered him, but it’s something that happens,” George said. “I had the same thing. I got hurt when I was a senior. Matthew, Marcus’ dad, got hurt also. It’s part of life.”
George has attended all of his sons’ and Marcus’ games so far, including Pop Warner and college.
“I never missed a game,” George said. “When my son went to Reedley for college, I went to his games. I have been to Los Angeles to see him play a game. We go all over.”
For Marcus, his football journey began in the second grade.
“My dad threw me out there and said go hit people,” Marcus said.
Although he played guard in elementary school, Marcus started playing running back and linebacker in seventh grade.
“That’s when I really started to get the hang of things, really understand football,” Marcus said.
Learning the game from his father, Marcus acquired the ability to always give maximum effort on the field.
“My dad always said ‘I’m not going to be mad at you if you’re giving a 100 percent and you mess up,’” Marcus said. “Work hard in everything you do or you’ll fall behind. You can’t slow down, just gotta give your full effort into everything.”
Through the years, Marcus has heard some unforgettable football stories from his family. One of those stories is about the time his father lost his cool.
“My dad was telling me he was mad at the other team and they were getting into it and my dad I guess took his helmet off and just head-butted the guy and didn’t care and he was just all riled up,” Marcus said.
Although he hasn’t yet decided where he will go after high school, Marcus said he is determined to play football at the next level and to stay focused on school.
“Even if it’s at junior college, I just want to go play somewhere,” Marcus said. “I’m not quite sure what I want to be, but I definitely just want to keep up with my grades.”