Sports

‘I know everyone has my back.’ Star linebacker touched by school, community support

Livingston’s Celso Sanchez

Livingston High junior Celso Sanchez talks about the support he received from the school and community in garnering over 17,000 votes to win the Sun-Star Football Player of the Week online poll. Sanchez played big in Wolves' win over Le Grand.
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Livingston High junior Celso Sanchez talks about the support he received from the school and community in garnering over 17,000 votes to win the Sun-Star Football Player of the Week online poll. Sanchez played big in Wolves' win over Le Grand.

A late surge of votes helped Livingston High junior Celso Sanchez overcome a 500-vote deficit to win the Merced Sun-Star Football Player of the Week online poll on Thursday.

Sanchez trailed Dos Palos wide receiver Zane Merrell by over 500 votes with just an hour left to vote. The voting began on Monday afternoon and closed at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Wolves fans voted in droves as Sanchez won with 17, 682 votes to Merrell’s 16,869 votes. The two combined for 34,551 of the total 35,421 votes.

According to Livingston athletic director Scott Winton, Livingston principal Mandy Ballenger helped encourage Livingston staff and students to go online and vote for Sanchez.

Sanchez recorded 11 tackles and returned a fumble 82 yards for a touchdown to lead Livingston in a 34-21 win over Le Grand in the season opener last week.

The other nominees from the opening week were Buhach Colony’s Youlas Dickson and Los Banos receiver Landon Ramos.

The Sun-Star caught up with Sanchez on Thursday afternoon. Let’s get to know the fans choice as the Sun-Star Football Player of the Week.

Question: What does it mean to see the Livingston staff and community out in force and vote over 17,000 times for you this week?

Sanchez: It means a lot to me that I know everybody has my back and wants to see me succeed.

Q: How many updates were you getting from friends, teachers on how you were doing?

Sanchez: Mostly everyone kept asking me or telling me, you’re up one percent or you’re down two. It was crazy.

Q: So if sports isn’t an option what would you want to do with your life as far as an occupation?

Sanchez: I would want to work in construction and do real estate, stuff like that. Having a nice house and say it’s yours and you built it.

Q: If you could only eat one thing, like you’re stranded on an island the rest of your life, what would it be?

Sanchez: Probably eat just steak. Steak is just good.

Q: Crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

Sanchez: Crunchy. It just tastes good when it crunches in your mouth.

Q: What does football mean to you?

Sanchez: Football means a lot to me. I always wanted to play when I was a kid and I just got the opportunity to play when I was in sixth grade. I’ve loved it ever since.

Q: Best thing about Livingston High?

Sanchez: It just feels like a family. You just know everybody. It’s a cool vibe to be around.

Q: How big was winning the first game last week?

Sanchez: It was huge. I felt we all wanted to show everyone all the hard work and all the long days we put in this summer.

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