Unsung heroes: Lucas Fernandez, Calistoga

Editor’s note: The Press Democrat will spotlight a player from each Empire football team selected for the North Coast Section playoffs. Not every player is a star, but the contributions of each of these players are crucial to their teams’ success. Each was nominated by his coach.
Lucas Fernandez
Senior, QB/RB/DB
Notable: Had been starting at quarterback all year, but in playoff loss last Saturday at St. Vincent, he was replaced by Jesus Curiel, who lost his older brother in a car accident Nov. 12 when returning from Tomales after watching his brother play.
Coach Mike Ervin decided to let Curiel quarterback and told Fernandez before the game that he was moving him to running back. Fernandez didn’t complain, even though he obviously was looking forward to being the starting quarterback in an NCS game. He carried the ball 5 times for 22 yards and played defensive back on the other side of the ball.After starting out losing its first three, Calistoga won five of six in mid-season to get into the NCS playoffs. During the season, the senior led his team with 10 touchdowns.
A good student,Fernandez has been accepted to UC Davis. A three-year starter for Calistoga, he’s been a role model to the underclassmen on the team.
PD: How was the playoff atmosphere for you guys last week?
Fernandez: It was a tough week for us because last Friday one of our teammate’s brothers died in a car accident after we had come back from the Tomales game.That whole week for us was pretty hard. We actually attended his funeral and we respected that and that was our mindset for this whole week. Having that in our heads was tough coming into this game and we really wanted to play our best, but the end result wasn’t pretty. We tried our hardest.
PD: How do you feel about this being coach Mike Ervin’s last year?
Fernandez: Pretty sad because when I was a freshman that was his second year there, sohe was the only coach I’ve ever had. He has been really influential to me and it is sad to see him step down, but he has done his work and he has done a good job. He had a big impact on all the kids.
PD: Going into the game against St. Vincent, how confident were you that you would be able to pull off the upset?
Fernandez: We were talking about it all week and everybody was all psyched and stuff because we were looking at the MaxPreps stats and comparing them and it said that we were going to come out on top like 27-19 or something like that. So we were all excited thinking that we were going to come in and get the win, but I guess all this madness got into our heads because it was hard to think about the game after such a tragedy like that.
PD: What could you guys have done differently to get the win last weekend?
Fernandez: I thought we could have done a better job on defense, in the secondary, working against their Receivers. They have a decent quarterback and he threw really well against us, and I think we could have done better against that because they scored a lot of their touchdowns through the air.
PD: When your coach told you that you wouldn’t be playing quarterback, what did he tell you?
Fernandez: It wasn’t very hard for me because I like to run the ball anyway. When I got put into the quarterback position it was confusing for me because I had to work on my reads and my throwing. I got put there because I was the only kid that could remember the plays.
PD: Your coach said that you are a role model for the underclassmen; how have you been such a positive influence in their lives?
Fernandez: During the summer, when we worked out and lifted weights, I would be there every day on time except for one day when I had a football camp at UC Davis. That influenced them to be able to choose what they want to do in life. A lot of them look up to me because they see that I have a good work ethic and that keeping up the good grades can get you far in life.
PD: How would you evaluate this season of Calistoga football?
Fernandez: Well we went 5-6, so, I thought we did well in league. I thought we could have done better against Tomales because we were psyched for that whole game, but I don’t know what happened. It was a pretty solid season, it was just hard getting people to practice because people liked just showing up for the games and playing there. But it all starts at practice, so that was hard for us this year.
PD: What are your plans for next year? Have you chosen a major yet?
Fernandez: My top two choice are Sacramento State and UC Davis. On my application I put that I was undeclared, but kinesiology sounds interesting to me because I want to keep working with sports and stuff, maybe sports medicine.
— Jonathan Pierce
For the Press Democrat