Jeff Kim came to America from Korea with his family five years ago, but like many immigrants, the only "football" he knew was soccer.
And when Kim first enrolled at Beckman High, soccer is what he played.
"My freshman year, the head coach was actually one of the football coaches and he recommended I give football a try," Kim said. "I liked it. It's the big sport in America and I wanted to try it."
There was really no debate as to which position Kim would play. With his speed and his willingness to get physical, Kim was a natural running back.
"He not only has pretty decent size, he's a pretty thick kid," said first-year Beckman Coach Ken Mushinskie. "He worked hard in the offseason getting his weight up and putting on some muscle."
Three years ago as a sophomore, he weighed 165 pounds. Now, he's up to 190 pounds on a 5-foot-11 frame.
"I've been trying to gain weight," Kim said. "I've been able to do that and I don't think I've lost any speed."
Kim missed three games earlier this season for "unspecified reasons" according to the school, but has come back since the absence with a vengeance. In victories over Woodbridge, Northwood and University, Kim rushed for 488 yards and eight touchdowns. He had a particularly outstanding game against Northwood, rushing for 253 yards and five touchdowns.
Going into Friday's game against Irvine, Kim had rushed for 665 yards, averaging 7.7 yards per carry, with 14 total touchdowns this season in five games for the Patriots.
"He has great lateral movement and his straight-away speed is impressive," Mushinskie said. "He can run past you, he can run over you, he can break a long one any time he touches the ball.
"To be where he is after playing football only three years is pretty impressive."
Beckman is certainly happy to have Kim on its side in Friday's game against Corona del Mar, which will determine the Pacific Coast League championship. With Friday's win over Irvine, Beckman is 4-0 in league and 7-2 overall; CdM is 4-0 and 8-1. The Sea Kings are the top-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division, while the Patriots are No. 2.
"I've seen them on film and live a couple times," Mushinskie said of CdM. "They're big, they have extremely good size, especially their linebacking corps. Obviously they're very talented and well-coached, and they bring a lot of success to the table."
CdM is generally regarded as the team to beat in the league, but the Sea Kings do have some added motivation against the Patriots, Kim pointed out.
"Last year we stopped their season," Kim said. "We beat them in the semifinals of CIF. They're going to be ready for us."
CdM is led by Erik Fisher, who has rushed for 982 yards, and quarterback Brent Lawson, who has thrown for 1,881 yards and 20 touchdowns.
"They're obviously a great team," Kim said. "They're a consistent team with a winning record every year. But we're really prepared. Our seniors really want this one."
Kim is helped out in the backfield by quarterback Cameron Biedgoly, who went into Friday's game against Irvine having passed for 1,176 yards and eight touchdowns and having rushed for five more.
Mushinskie is confident in his team going into Friday's game against CdM, just as he was confident going into his first season at the school after 10 years at Martin Luther King High in Riverside, the last five as the head coach.
Last year's Beckman team, after beating CdM in the semifinals, lost to Garden Grove, 31-30, in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division final.
"I had high expectations coming into this year," Mushinskie said. "I knew we had talented kids coming back, it was just getting the kids to believe and play together. They really bought in to what we're trying to do here, especially the last five weeks. They've helped each other out and picked each other up. The last two weeks they've been phenomenal on the practice field."