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Godinez's Ibarra specializes in 'wow' moments
What feels better, scoring a goal in soccer or running for a touchdown in football?
“Oh, that’s a hard one,” says Godinez junior Bryan Ibarra as he steps back and looks skyward to think it over.
It’s a question few can relate to. Fewer still can approach it with the amount of experience that Ibarra can.
Ibarra plays both striker for the Grizzlies soccer team and quarterback on the football team. He is second in the county with 24 goals and just led his team to the Orange Coast League title. In football, he ran much more than he threw, rushing for 2,010 yards and 22 touchdowns, both fourth-most in the county.
Both his soccer coach, Ruben Fernandez, and football coach, Michael Echaves, said intense competitiveness fuels Ibarra on the field.
“You can just see his knack for the goal,” Echaves said of watching his quarterback on the soccer field. “He just has this pig-headed determination that he will score, and you see that on the football field.
“There’s times when you see him do something, and you’re like, ‘Wow, he kind of made that happen.’”
On the football field, Ibarra (6-foot-2, 175 pounds) ran the read option out of the shotgun and often broke through the secondary for long runs. He slipped sure tackles and reversed field to avoid defenders who could ultimately only watch him run in for six. Ibarra collected nine runs of 45 yards or more on the season, including five touchdown runs of 70 yards or more.
Echaves said that though he planned a lot of quarterback runs, he wasn’t necessarily expecting a 2,000-yard rusher.
“We knew he was going to run, we just didn’t know he was going to be as good as he was going to be,” he said. “And once we started to see him in games, we realized this is our feature back.”
Ibarra also developed his arm throughout the season, to the point where defenders had to respect his ability to pass, Echaves said. He finished the season having completed 80 of 151 passes for 1,056 yards with 12 touchdowns and one interception.
Ibarra also did some punting and kicking, as he clearly has a strong leg. However, he scored on long runs so often that Echaves eventually took him off of extra-point duty to give him a moment to catch his breath before returning to the field to kick off.
After football season ended in the late fall, Ibarra didn’t have long to transition to soccer season in the winter. The hardest part, he said, was readjusting to the endurance soccer requires.
“I saw (the soccer team) practice, the way they would train during the offseason, and they would go hard, they would run a lot,” Ibarra said. “And I’m like, ‘I need to start getting conditioned.’”
The next-biggest hurdle, Ibarra said, was inserting himself into the team chemistry.
“I come from football and they (soccer) already have their bond, all these soccer players,” he said. “And I have to get in that bond, little by little.”
Ibarra said on-field chemistry was not an issue, that he was able to “break in quick.” With 24 goals in 17 games, it certainly shows.
Fernandez said Ibarra’s physicality, in his size, strength and speed, is what allows him to thrive in both sports.
“He’s not the most polished football player, and he’s not the most polished soccer player, either,” he said. “He’s such a good athlete that his athleticism shines in both sports.”
Both coaches echoed that Godinez encourages students to play multiple sports and to get the most out of their high school experience. They also both agree that they’ve never coached an athlete who has reached the amount of success in two sports that Ibarra has.
Though Fernandez said Ibarra has colleges looking at him for both sports, Ibarra said he hasn’t given much thought as to which he wants to pursue at the next level. Fernandez said Ibarra is good enough to play Division I soccer.
Echaves described Ibarra as charismatic and kind on campus. He also holds a position on the Associated Student Body where he helps plan assemblies and dances, and serves as a disc jockey during school lunches.
Echaves mentioned that Ibarra plans go out for track or volleyball – and perhaps both – in the spring. Echaves speculates that Ibarra would be the fastest person on the track team.
Ibarra was sure to give credit to his teammates in football and soccer.
“(In football) it wasn’t just me,” he said. “It was all of them that helped, if it was a receiver making a safety block or the linemen getting their blocks. And right here in soccer too … because you know, I can’t just score like that. It starts from the defense to the middle to the forwards, so it’s a team effort. I couldn’t do it without the team.”
Ibarra has helped achieve team success in addition to his personal success. The football team finished 7-5 overall, 4-1 in league and reached the second round of CIF playoffs for the first time since the school was founded in 2007.
The soccer team won the Orange Coast League title outright Thursday, going 9-0-1 in league. The Grizzlies are 15-1-4 overall and ranked second in the county. The playoffs start next week.
Though Ibarra started playing soccer at age 8 and picked up football in eighth grade, he said he can’t pick a favorite between the two.
So, from the mouth of the expert, what feels better, a goal or a touchdown?
Ibarra said that scoring a goal feels great, but because football draws bigger crowds, nothing quite matches the feeling of running in a long touchdown with the crowd yelling behind him.