Chris Nixon is so into the spirit of this game that he unearthed an old jersey – a throwback look for two reasons to toast the end of the season.
One, to display his Optimist All-Star football pride. And two, to show that, yes, he was a player back in his day. It wasn’t just a rumor.
Nixon is the Elk Grove High School football coach who heads the South team into today’s 57th Optimist game, excited to the point he’d love to play a down. He ran practices while wearing his blue No. 33 jersey from the 1984 game that capped his Nevada Union career. And he didn’t have to grease his torso to slip it on.
“I might’ve been the slowest defensive back in the history of this game,” Nixon told his team this week, adding Friday, “I’ll leave my leather helmet at home, though.”
Nixon said he’s like a mad scientist with new gadgets and toys for experimenting. He has six players who can play quarterback. He has a lineman in Ngalu Tapa of Burbank, headed to Washington State, who is agile enough to run a tunnel-screen receiver play. And another lineman in Kameron Schroeder of Cosumnes Oaks, bound for Duke, who got in a little work at cornerback, for kicks.
Mostly, Nixon is moved by the passion of the players.
“What’s so cool is that they all have great respect for the game and the charity they’re playing for,” Nixon said.
A standout on Rocklin’s defense in football, he’s off to a 13-0 start this wrestling season at 182 pounds.
5 p.m. today); $10 at gate; children under 8 free
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