Valley Vista High School linebackers JT Moore, Fernando Ayala, Nick Moedt and Mario Rodarte are used to storming toward the quarterback on the football field.
Earlier this month, a burning house became their opponent.
In Surprise, the young men were in Moore’s car when they noticed smoke coming from a burning house a few blocks away.
“We saw a giant fire and we went to go see if we could help,” Moore said.
Rodarte, who is in a fire science class at Valley Vista, said the boys were curious and wanted to check it out. They never expected they would come away as heroes.
The four football players spotted fire in the garage, so they went around to the back of the house to make sure everyone had gotten out safely. Two dogs were running around the backyard.
Ayala jumped the fence into the yard to get the dogs, both boxers. One was nervously walking around the yard while the other ran back and forth in and out of the house, Moore said.
“I think they were in shock,” Moedt said.
Ayala picked up both dogs and passed them over the fence to his friends and a neighbor.
The home and dogs belonged to a Valley Vista classmate and her family.
“We all feel like we did a good deed that day,” said Rodarte, who wants to be a firefighter.
The good deed feels good, Ayala said, but the boys added that it’s part of a larger effort to make a good impression on the community.
The whole football team has been making an effort to have a positive impact on the community and give a good name to Valley Vista, said the linebackers, who added that team members regularly volunteer at the food bank and at Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City West.
“We do it as a team,” Ayala said, adding that the community returns the favor by helping them with such things as sponsorships and food before games.
Rodarte’s father, Mario Rodarte Sr., works with the team booster club.
He said he always advises the players to be aware of their behavior while wearing their jerseys and do what they can to help anyone in the community.
For example, Rodarte Sr. said his son escorted several women to their cars in the movie theater parking lot after heavy rains in Surprise last week. When one woman offered to give him money, he refused, and told her, instead, to attend and cheer at upcoming football games.
The boys said they know to be wary of smoke and fire, especially after their experience.
Only Moore told his parents about their heroic act because they were worried they would get in trouble for being that close to the fire.