Montel Aaron is a rarity.
He was a three-sport athlete at Antelope High School, excelling in football, basketball and baseball.
If there was one endeavor the recent graduate mastered more than playing quarterback, guard-forward and the outfield and pitching, it was academics. Aaron was a 4.0 student.
And the rewards have been plentiful.
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Stout, skilled and explosive at 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, Aaron will play football on scholarship at San Jose State, where he will study kinesiology. Although he recently graduated, Aaron has one last bit of business to tend to in Antelope Titans colors. He will quarterback the North on Saturday in the 59th Optimist All-Star Football Classic at Jesuit.
That’s another rarity, considering many scholarship athletes decline to play in summer all-star charity games for fear of injury. But Aaron will play Saturday without hesitation or regret.
“I love football, and it’s my last appearance here, so why not compete and have fun?” he said. “I’m so glad I played all three sports in high school because I had a great time. I recommend it to anyone.”
But in this era of sports specialization, many student-athletes, including some pre-teens, are encouraged to focus on one sport. This pressure comes largely from parents or coaches. Aaron did not give up any sports because he couldn’t bear to choose among them.
“I’ve always played three because it was the thing (for me) to do,” Aaron said. “I went from one sport to the other, excited to change seasons.”
Aaron’s best sport is football. He threw for 2,474 yards and 29 touchdowns, and ran for 226 yards and seven touchdowns for the 12-1 Titans last fall. Aaron averaged 8.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots for the Titans’ 24-9 basketball team and hit .388 with a 3-3 pitching record and 2.84 ERA for Antelope’s 10-15-1 baseball team.
Aaron landed on The Bee’s All-Metro teams in each sport. He was named to the first team in football and received honorable mention in basketball and baseball.
Aaron’s advice about playing more than one sport: “Do it all, have fun and don’t look back with regret and wonder ‘what if.’ Three sports avoids burnout for any sport. You don’t get those memories back, either.”
More quarterbacks – North coach Mike Dimino didn’t have to look far to fill out his quarterback depth chart.
The Del Campo coach called on his own passer, Ben Purcell, and Whitney’s Hunter Rodrigues to join Aaron. All three played against each other in the Capital Valley Conference – won by Antelope.
Purcell passed for 3,192 yards and 38 touchdowns, including six in a game three times, for the Cougars. Rodrigues threw for 3,154 yards and 45 touchdowns, including seven in a game twice and six in two others, for the Wildcats. He also ran for 642 yards and six touchdowns.
Rodrigues will play football at American River College, and Purcell will play baseball at Sacramento City College after going 8-2 as a pitcher with a 1.14 ERA. He was a member of The Bee’s All-Metro teams in baseball (first team) and football (second-team punter).
“This will be the last time I play football,” Purcell said of the Optimist game. “Some of my best memories in high school were on this field. I know this last game will be fun.”
When: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Where: Jesuit High School