That emptiness that Jackson Ortiz has felt all year from being absent from the playing field has been fulfilled for the future.
Unable to play football during his senior year at Monterey High because of the ongoing pandemic, Ortiz had enough tape and attitude to impress a handful of prospective colleges.
One college, in particular, got his attention, as the defensive back is headed to Arizona Christian University in Phoenix on a football scholarship.
“A scholarship is what I’ve worked for my whole life,” Ortiz said. “This year was a real eye-opener. We had what we worked for our entire life stripped away from us. Words can’t explain the anger and frustration. But it pushed me to drive and work harder. Now I’m seeing it pay off.”
Quietly, Ortiz put up impressive numbers in two seasons for the Toreadores, recording 14 interceptions, with eight coming in 2019.
“Arizona Christian has been welcoming from the jump,” Ortiz said. “They have shown me what a brotherhood is like, while putting Christ first. That was important to me. I’m blessed and excited.”
The 6-foot-1 multi-sport athlete also compiled 310 tackles — 68 for losses over two seasons. Used as a receiver, Ortiz also scored 15 touchdowns in 21 career games at Monterey.
“I’m relieved this decision is finalized because this past year has been full of unpredictable events,” Ortiz said. “From the 831 (area code) to the 602, we ain’t done yet.”
Hartnell grad Ramos set for college spring football season
Alexis Ramos has had to wait a little longer than most to put the pads on for his senior season of college football.
Anxiety aside, the one-time Alisal High and Hartnell College linebacker will be one of the team leaders on defense this spring for the Southeastern Louisiana football team.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Ramos was a second-team all-Southland Conference selection last year, leading the team in tackles with 80 and solos with 42.
Ramos produced 11 tackles for losses as a junior in 2019, recording five sacks. He compiled a season-high 12 tackles against McNeese State.
Southeastern Louisiana is coming off an 8-5 year, in which it reached the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision semifinals, falling to Montana.
The 21-year-old Ramos earned a scholarship to Southeastern Louisiana after earning Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Coast Conference at Hartnell, producing 84 tackles and 13 sacks in 10 games
In two years at Hartnell, Ramos had 169 tackles, 19 sacks and three forced fumbles. He was an all-league linebacker at Alisal.
Leon wins second Race the Commons series
Former Hartnell College and Montana State distance ace Diego Leon claimed his second Race the Commons Series event for January, covering the 6.7-mile loop in Fort Ord in 35 minutes, 30 seconds.
Leon bettered former Panther teammate Jorge Sanchez, who recorded the second-fastest time on the course for January in 36:03.
Sanchez, who prepped at Alvarez and ran for Alaska-Anchorage, had the fastest time for December. Leon clocked the top mark for November.
All racecourses change each month during the series, which continues this month. Athletes are allowed to run the course as many times as they’d like during the month.
Pacific Grove product Sam Coutts took third in 36:06, while Andrew Martinez of King City was fourth in 37:19.
Emily Motz of Monterey won the women’s division series race for January, finishing in 48:15. Veronica Ramirez of Salinas was five seconds off the pace in 48:20.
Cathy Weidemann of Carmel Valley placed third in 49:48, while current Hartnell distance standout Isabelle Torres of Salinas was fourth.
Orlando Johnson balling down under in Australia
Former North Salinas and Palma High basketball standout Orlando Johnson is averaging 17 minutes a game this winter for the Brisbane Bullets of the Australian Basketball League.
A former second-round draft pick by the Sacramento Kings, the 6-foot-6 Johnson is playing in the same league that former Warriors center Andrew Bogut once played in.
The 31-year-old Johnson, who spent three years in the NBA with Indiana, Sacramento, New Orleans and Phoenix, is averaging 5.3 points and 2.3 rebounds a night for Brisbane.
Last year Johnson played professionally in Russia, where he averaged 14.3 points in 24 minutes a night for Avtodor Saratov.
Johnson’s best year as a pro came in the NBA’s G-League, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game for the Austin Spurs in 2015.
As a senior at Palma, Johnson dropped in 25.2 points a game, leading them to a league title and a spot in the Northern California Division IV semifinals.
Harper finding his role on the hardwood at Cardinal Stritch
Adjusting to a higher level of play, Tim Harper is finding his role for the Cardinal Stritch men’s basketball team, having appeared in nine of the team’s 13 games this season.
Harper, who prepped at Salinas High and spent two seasons at Monterey Peninsula College, is averaging 15.8 minutes a game.
The 6-foot-2 guard earned a season-high 22 minutes on the floor last week for the Wolves, who are located in Milwaukee.
Harper is averaging 3.7 points and 3.6 rebounds a night for Cardinal Stritch, which is still searching for its first win of the season. He also has eight assists and four steals.
Monterey Bay FC to launch virtual events
The expansion Monterey Bay Football Club, which will begin play in the United Soccer League in 2022, is hosting a series of virtual events and listening sessions to support the creation of the club’s crest and colors.
The sessions are open to the public and will also engage in a range of community segments, including drawings of a potential logo from local artists.
Deposits on the 2022 season can be purchased for $22. Individuals and businesses interested in learning more can visit www.montereybayfc.com.
You can get more information about Monterey Bay FC by going to @MontereyBayFC on twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Seaside seeking head coaches for fall sports
Seaside High is accepting applications for head coaching positions for football, boys and girls cross country, volleyball and cheerleading. Contact Alex Jennings firstname.lastname@example.org.
California Rodeo to offer scholarships
The California Rodeo Salinas is offering two scholarship programs this year — its annual Hartnell College award and the Community Foundation for Monterey County scholarship.
The California Rodeo has been providing scholarship assistance for students attending or graduating from Hartnell since 1986.
The Community Foundation for Monterey County is a new scholarship for students that are California Rodeo Salinas Committee Members or related to committee members that plan on attending college or trade schools.
The California Rodeo Salinas will be providing multiple scholarships with varying amounts allocated to each student.
Deadlines for the Hartnell College scholarship is March 2, while the Community Foundation for Monterey County scholarship application must be turned in by March 15. Go to https://www.carodeo.com/p/about-us/community/scholarships.
Contributed by local news sources