Gonzalez fights past small frame for the love of the game

Sophomore+Jacobie+Gonzalez+turns+the+corner+and+eyes+the+end+zone+after+catching+a+pass+from+the+quarterback+against+Midlothian.+%28Mardenis+Rodriguez+photo%29

Sophomore Jacobie Gonzalez turns the corner and eyes the end zone after catching a pass from the quarterback against Midlothian. (Mardenis Rodriguez photo)

While he is waiting his turn on offense, Jacobe Gonzalez cheers his defense on while they look to make big stops against Midlothian. (John Hunt Photo)
While he is waiting his turn on offense, Jacobe Gonzalez cheers his defense on while they look to make big stops against Midlothian. (John Hunt Photo)

Barely breaking the measuring stick at 4’11” and tipping the scales at 89 pounds, sophomore Jacobie Gonzalez snaps on his Panther helmet and runs to the field with confidence. His eyes peer up at the  5’11 and 165 pound lineman who towers over him from the opposite side of the ball. Instead of being gripped with fear, Gonzales stares into his eyes and focuses on the rout called by the quarterback. He stares down the line of scrimmage catching a small glimpse of his quarterback who nods at him and calls the play across center.  In less than five seconds the quarterback yells “Go” across the field and all thoughts of the person in front of him fade, and Gonzales’ sight is on his rout. His heart begins racing as sweat runs down his face, and he concentrates on one thing and one thing only, the speeding ball coming out of the hands of his quarterback. The ball comes sailing down to the 20 yard line and lands roughly into his arms and he examines his route to the end zone.  He quickly brushes off  the first 5’11” defender then another one as  he makes his way to the end zone where he receives high fives from his team for putting another seven points on the board.

“Size does not matter,” sophomore Jacobie Gonzalez said. “I always try my best when I step onto the field.”

Gonzalez, who was born premature, is a regular starter on the junior varsity football team every week. He was born weighing only two pounds and was not allowed to leave the hospital until he was five pounds. Because of this he faces growth deficiencies that keep him from matching the size of his peers on the football field.

“The first big hurdle we had to over come was him being born premature.” Jacobie’s mother Karen Gonzalez said. “But now we have another problem. Because of the delay in his development he is being injected with steroids to help his body react and grow.”

Playing football since he was six years old, Jacobie has always had the support of his mother and twin sister.

“I tell him to focus on the gift that God gave him,” Karen Gonzalez said “I am always proud of him.”

Not only does he have his family cheering him on, but his coaches are as well. His coaches say he is passionate about what he does on the field, so they are eager to give him chances to make plays.

“I am always impressed by his positive attitude and willingness to get better everyday,” receiver coach Fletcher Pendergrass said.

As Jacobie is the smallest football player on the team, those around him know there is a bigger chance for him to sustain injuries. They all deny that this has ever held him back.

“I do worry about him getting hurt because he plays with such passion,” outside receiver Pierre Thompson said. “He is one that plays with a big heart and works harder than anyone on the team.”

His twin sister sophomore Karadi Gonzalez is always in the stands for his games. As a cheerleader, she cheers for the whole team, but as a sister, her eyes are on her Jacobie.

“I feel the passion that Jacobie feels when he plays,” Karadi said. “I get into the game with him, when he is hurt I’m hurt. When he is happy, I am happy.”

Despite having to overcome being born premature  and his delay in development Jacobe’s mother could not be anymore proud of him.

“Jacobie has a pure heart despite his size and weight,” Karen Gonzalez said.

Jacobie is one of the coaches favorites in the lineup every week regardless of his frame.  His coach said there is no doubt he is one to be in the outside receiver slot each week.

“I quickly noticed his hustle and enthusiasm despite his size,” said Pendergrass. “He goes out there and plays with everything he has inside of him every play.”

Not only does he have a solid relationship with his coaches but with he also says he is close to his team.

“My teammates treat me as if we’re brothers,” Jacobie said. “They treat me like family outside the football field but on the field they protect me.”

Jacobie’s mother said  he was adamant about playing flag football at the age of six. She believes his love for the game is just as strong now as it was then.

“Jacobie’s nickname was ‘Beast’ when he played for the Cedar Hill Saints,” Karen Gonzalez said.

Sophomore Jacobie Gonzalez turns the corner and eyes the end zone after catching a pass from the quarterback against Midlothian. (Mardenis Rodriguez photo)
Sophomore Jacobie Gonzalez turns the corner and eyes the end zone after catching a pass from the quarterback against Midlothian. (Mardenis Rodriguez photo)

Junior varsity quarterback Keelin Lipscomb said when he looks accross the line of scrimage he has four receivers he can throw to. He, however, admits he always looks for Jacobie.

“When I throw the ball, I have to think about where Jacobie is at,” Lipscomb said. “He is small, and I do not want him getting hurt, but he is also a good target.”

Karadi said she is very aware of Jacobe’s capabilities. She said the main thing she is confident in is that he is comfortable catching passes.

“I know that he is is a fantastic player,” Karadi said. “He is just doing what he loves to do.”

Jacobie  says he just wants to play the best he can despite his small frame.  He said he wants to be the best player on the field.

“My size and the love of the game motivate me to play with all my might,” Jacobe said “My family has always told me that size doesn’t matter. I need to do what I love.”

Jacobie says he loves to practice with the varsity team because this is what will make him better when it comes to his game. Regardless of their size, he admits he just wants to play against the big boys.

“Jacobie never gives up and always tries his best,” left guard Cardion Hubbard said. “We’re teammates out on the field, but once we step off we’re family.”

Jacobie’s teammate Michael Harris admits he wasn’t sure what to think about Jacobie the first time he met him.

“It was crazy when I first saw Jacobie, I could not picture him playing football,” Harris said. “He was so small. He might be small but he has a big heart.”

Jacobie admits that his small frame causes ups and downs in the field, but he does not plan to let that stop him.

“I am at a little disadvantage because I am not as strong as the other players,” Jacobie said. “But because I am small I can get around the bigger players quicker.”