By JUAN ESTEVE
Special to the NEWS
However one defines impressive, the Miller Jordan Middle School Cougars are defining it right.
The 8th and 7th grade football A-teams have become undefeated district champions. Both A-teams have gone undefeated this season, though it is worth noting that the current 8th grade A-team went undefeated as a 7th grade team last year (6-0), outscoring their opponents 380-55 in the past 2 years combined, with 231 points in favor of the Cougars this year alone.
Furthermore, as Athletic Coordinator and Head Coach Ricardo “Rick” Lugo mentioned, they are projecting this year’s 7th grade team will go undefeated as 8th graders next year as well.
Consequently, we asked Coach Lugo for the “secret sauce” in this incredible run that the Cougars have had at the middle school level.
Coach Lugo said the athletes are the key in this status of excellence.
“It comes from the kids’ hard-work that we are able to have this amazing run,” said Coach Lugo. “And obviously the most rewarding part of being an Athletic Coordinator and Head Coach comes from the District Championship that we’ve been able to obtain. These are the outcomes of really hard work with children who feel pride being Cougars and wearing the colors of Miller Jordan.”
For Lugo, this success is not a surprise because he knows what the young athletes are capable of: he has kids that are arriving from previous children’s leagues (such as TYFA, PONY baseball, Boys and Girls Club basketball, 7 on 7, NFL flag, to name a few) and have heard about the success of Miller Jordan, and they wish to be a part of that excellence.
Alongside his great coaching staff, Lugo counts on the great support of his players’ parents, who he said deserve a big chunk of credit for taking the kids to practice at different levels.
Keeton Castilleja, a proud parent of Cougar #20 Karmyne Castilleja (brother of Greyhound running back Kyler Castilleja), said he has coached this team and watched them succeed since they were four years old. “They are all like family to me,” he said. “A lot of them have trained and played football, baseball, and basketball together since they were 4-5 years old. The core group of them have been through it all together.”
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy of the Nov. 1-7, 2019 issue of the NEWS.