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High School Sports

Column: St. John Bosco’s Drake Metcalf will carry the flag one last time

St. John Bosco left tackle Drake Metcalf (60) leads the Braves onto the field for a game earlier this season.
St. John Bosco left tackle Drake Metcalf (60) leads the Braves onto the field. He’ll hold the flag one last time on Saturday in the CIF state championship Open Division bowl game at Cerritos College.
(Jeremiah Soifer / For The Times)

Carrying the American flag when the Bellflower St. John Bosco football team comes onto the field is an appropriate honor for offensive tackle Drake Metcalf. Smart, tough and relentless, he’s an example of what anyone can become in football and in life when you’re focused and determined to succeed.

The Stanford-bound senior has used his blocking skills to help the Braves (12-1) reach the CIF state championship Open Division bowl game Saturday against Concord De La Salle (12-1) at Cerritos College. And his success in earning a college football scholarship despite not being 300 pounds is an important lesson on what schools are looking for in a lineman.

Metcalf provided insight into how he sold recruiters on what his future could hold.

“A few schools in the beginning of my recruiting were skeptical taking a chance on me because I’m not the biggest offensive lineman,” he said. “I’m 6-2½, 275 pounds. When I was a sophomore, I was 240 pounds. It’s hard to take a chance on a guy like that because they don’t know if he’ll be able to gain that much weight.

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“I have to say to the coaches when you’re offering kids who are 340 and 360 pounds, it’s hard sometimes to help them lose weight as well. It goes both ways. It was definitely a hard, long process, but at the end of the day, as I say and my parents say, ‘Film doesn’t lie.’ You can either play or can’t play.”

Watching Metcalf on film, you see an aggressive lineman pushing and plodding, thinking and maneuvering. He was so active in St. John Bosco’s 39-34 victory over Santa Ana Mater Dei in the Southern Section Division 1 championship game that he could have played the Energizer Bunny in one of those TV commercials.

“Everyone that’s kind of underweight on the offensive line, don’t give up,” Metcalf said. “Just keep eating and be as mean as heck because that’s what got me exposed to the media and recruiting and to the coaches — my physicalness and nastiness and my technique.”

A straight-A student who never backs down, Metcalf knows how to correct mistakes and focus on completing assignments.

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“The touchdowns are great and the first downs and catches are great, but I want to make sure at the end of every whistle, my guy is on the ground five yards down field,” he said.

Where did he get this attitude?

“I have an Irish-Scottish background,” he said. “We’re kind of warriors on the battlefield. My dad implemented that old-school 1980s-style offensive lineman mind-set, ‘Just get out there and beat the heck out of the guy across from you.’ And make sure he pays for lining up against you.”

As a unit, the St. John Bosco offensive line came through big time in the Division 1 final, giving quarterback DJ Uiagalelei the time he needed to pass for a school-record 444 yards and five touchdowns with one sack and help the Braves rally from a 28-5 deficit.

“That showed the resiliency of the St. John Bosco Braves,” Metcalf said. “Not many come back from that large of a deficit. It shows how much pride we have for the program.”

Metcalf said holding the American flag was delegated to him by former lineman A.J. Rodriguez, and he’ll soon appoint someone to hold the flag for next season.

“I’m a patriot guy,” Metcalf said. “I’m strong in my beliefs and I have a lot of pride in the men and women who serve our country.”

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One last time he’ll get to carry the American flag onto the field, then try to do his job of “steamrolling” opponents.

“We want to make sure every second we’re on the field we’re fighting for the guy next to us,” he said.


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