Antonio Delgado has spent the spring semester like all freshman football players across the state, working out from home while taking online classes.
The coronavirus pandemic sent shockwaves throughout the nation and world, forcing the closure of businesses, schools and enforced social distancing guidelines that kept athletes like Delgado from being unable to work out with teammates and coaches.
Nevertheless, he said he has seen vast improvement not only in his strength but his speed as well.
His relentless mentality to get better stems from his desire to not only do the best he can for the Desert Vista football program, but to also honor the legacy of his last name in the Thunder program.
“I want to create my own path at Desert Vista,” Delgado said, “but also keep it connected to the Delgado name. I want to help make DV a better school. I just have to prove myself by giving 110 percent on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom.”
Delgado, who figures to play a key role as a sophomore on varsity, is the younger brother of Armando Delgado, a 2019 graduate of Desert Vista who is now at Wagner College.
Armando was one of the key leaders for the Thunder program as a senior linebacker.
He helped lead Desert Vista to a 10-win season in 2018 that included a thrilling win over rival Mountain Pointe to send the ‘Tukee Bowl trophy back across Chandler Boulevard for the first time since 2011.
Armando helped mold their younger brother into who he is today, a 6-foot, 220-pound soon-to-be sophomore who is only getting bigger.
“He’s pretty much been my main teacher and inspiration through sports,” Delgado said of Armando.
“Having him is priceless. Everyone needs a good master to become the best at their craft. I would say Armando is the best that I have.”
While Delgado credits Armando for helping steer him in the right direction, he aspires to be better.
“My goal has always been to be better than him,” Delgado said. “I have to fill his shoes. I want to be one step ahead of him when he was my age.”
Delgado saw time on varsity this season as a freshman and made his first appearance against Queen Creek. He recalled being nervous at first but that was quickly replaced with excitement when defensive line coach Derek Kennard Jr. called his name.
In his first-ever play at the varsity level, he broke through the line and made the tackle. It was his first of two on the season in limited action on varsity.
“They were very big and very strong,” Delgado said of Queen Creek’s varsity offensive line. “I did my best to get through the line. It was awesome.”
Following the football season, he went on to wrestle for the Desert Vista varsity program. While competing at a higher level all season, he still managed to obtain the freshman state title for his weight class.
Delgado’s motivation to succeed both on and off the field and wrestling mat stems from his love for “Rudy,” the 1993 film based on the life of Daniel Reuttiger, an undersized walk-on at the University of Notre Dame football who spent most of his time on the football team’s practice squad before finally appearing in a game against Georgia Tech in 1978.
The determination to fulfill his dream of playing college football for Notre Dame gave Reuttiger motivation to continue pushing toward his goal despite several obstacles.
Delgado watched “Rudy” for the first time when he was 4 years old. Notre Dame has been his dream school ever since.
“I saw he went to Notre Dame and he never gave up,” Delgado said of the movie. “He had the hardest work ethic I have ever seen. It inspired me to go to Notre Dame and work hard.”
Delgado aims to use that inspiration to become one of the starters or, at the very least, in the rotation for defensive line this upcoming season on varsity. He also hopes to make an impact from the fullback position on offense, much like Armando did during his time with the Thunder program.
He has several individual goals for himself this upcoming season, some of which he believes can easily be obtained. But most importantly, he wants to help lead Desert Vista to success.
“My expectations are to be an all-state and all-city player on both sides of the ball,” Delgado said. “But ultimately, I want to help my team win a state championship.”