There’s something different about Nathan Manning, a three-sport athlete at Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley High who has a refreshing smile and an always-friendly demeanor.
You have to go back to the days of “Leave It to Beaver,” a TV sitcom that ran from 1957 to 1963 and had such corny sayings as: “That’s a lovely dress you’re wearing, Mrs. Cleaver,” to appreciate the old-fashioned values displayed by Manning.
Committed to Cal to play college baseball, Manning is also Capistrano Valley’s standout quarterback. He has passed for 18 touchdowns in four games. He’s playing football because he would never abandon his high school friends.
It’s going to be tough enough for him to probably give up basketball this winter so he can spend a little more time on baseball, a sport in which he batted .391 last spring for the Division 1 championship team.
“Make the most of it,” he says of his high school experience. “Don’t have any regrets. That’s what I did. It’s a little hectic, but in the end, I wouldn’t do it any other way.”
He has helped lead the Cougars to a 4-0 start. Eleven of his passes and five of his touchdowns have been caught by junior receiver Jack Haley, who’s also a backup quarterback and the starting shortstop for the baseball team.
“He’s my best friend,” Manning said. “We’ve always been on the same page. He’s playing football just to have fun like I am and do what’s best for the team. He’s a heck of a receiver.”
If only sports were so simple — play for fun, play for community, play for teammates. It’s that way at Capistrano Valley, a neighborhood football team with close to a dozen multisport athletes.
They’re setting an inspiring example for others.
At Glendora, Jacob Gonzalez, a standout junior third baseman committed to Mississippi, is having fun playing quarterback. He has passed for 626 yards and six touchdowns.
At Manhattan Beach Mira Costa, quarterback Nick Carpino completed 20 of 30 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for three touchdowns on Friday in a 42-21 win over rival El Segundo. He’s the starting second baseman for the baseball team.
“Plays for the love of the game,” baseball coach Keith Ramsey said of Carpino.
At Garfield, Angel Hidalgo, Sonny Hidalgo and Andrew Hernandez are starters on defense for the 4-0 football team and also starters on the basketball team.
It used to be routine to see multisport athletes sacrificing to help their school and community succeed.
Thanks to athletes such as Manning and a few others, we still get a little peek at how life used to be.
Perfection: Junior quarterback Bryce Young of Santa Ana Mater Dei was 16 of 16 passing for 328 yards and four touchdowns in one half of action on Friday night in a 56-0 win over Stockton St. Mary’s.
The Monarchs (3-1) have a bye this week before facing Florida powerhouse IMG Academy (3-0) on Sept. 21 in a nationally televised game at Santa Ana Stadium.
Community showdown: Reseda (4-0) is playing at Canoga Park (4-0) on Friday in a game that will feature freshman standouts.