Zachary Gonzales, Arapahoe’s 6-foot-1, 320-pound nose guard/defensive end, likes to tease his grandpa about wearing a leather helmet when he played football.
Gonzales is the third generation of the family to play football.
Zachary’s dad, Darrell, was a 168-pound guard who graduated from Mullen in 1987. Dave Gonzales, Zachary’s grandfather, was a 160-pound guard for Adams City in the late 1950s and graduated from the school in what was then called the Town of Commerce in 1960.
“Being the third generation to play football is cool no doubt,” said Zachary, who is also a standout rugby player on the Arapahoe club team. “My grandfather is not a big sports guy like my dad. But he fondly remembers being a guard and picking up a fumble that he scored on. Grandpa is always more rewarding when report cards come home and I show him my A’s and B’s.
“My dad has the same mantra as grandpa and he has never missed a game. He rearranges his schedule to make sure he is there for me. He prepares me a pregame meal the night before games, a game-day breakfast and gets me a nice steak for lunch, and he is big on me eating healthy.”
Darrell and Dave Gonzales both point out that football and the culture surrounding sports is different than it was, especially when the 77-year-old Dave played.
“You just went out there rolled up your sleeves, put your hands in the dirt and played,” said Darrell. “Back then was a lot different. Going to work was more important than the game. When I played, whether you knew what the snap count was or not, you just went on movement.
“My biggest plus was that I was smart enough to see the ball move and what they now call eye discipline. I would have one eye on the ball and move based on the ball and the players’ movement. Back then being 160 to 180 pounds was a big man. Nowadays that is the average for a wide receiver.”
Darrell and Dave stress more than football and rugby to Zach.
“What Zach, I and grandpa talk about is life, what are you going to do after high school, and what are you going to do after college?” said Darrell.
“Grandpa says when you get to be my age you start looking in the rear-view mirror and saying `I should have done this or should have done that.’ I tell him to have fun and just enjoy life. We say that high school is so easy and you don’t realize how easy it was until you start working and have to pay bills.”
Dave Gonzales gets philosophical when recalling the almost 60 years between when he played and when Zachary takes the field for Arapahoe.
“When I played I could not believe guys could knock me down but they did,” said Dave. “Then I saw my son play hockey and football and knew he was stronger than me. Now my grandson is big and strong like an ox and seems to be enjoying life. In my day spearing was a big thing but I was a lineman, so nothing changes on the line.
“As far as the game getting worse, it’s not the game but some of the people that interfere with sports being fun and just being a game. A simple game has turned into a business for many. In 60 years the same drills are being conducted and I am fairly certain the weight room at Adams City, Mullen and Arapahoe are similar. I bet the bar is 45 pounds at all locations and the weights are the same size, shape and weight.”
Dave has a few parting words of wisdom for the younger generation.
“Nowadays everyone is chasing something other than the moment,” he said. “The kids will realize this when they are my age. For now, every kid should be enjoying high school sports, as it all goes so quick. I am enjoying seeing my youngest grandson working hard, exercising and enjoying life. We are all here for him and will continue to supp0rt him in whatever he does, but to be 17 again … wow.”
Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 303-566-4083.
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