Baseball players having fun playing high school football

Hart High catcher Matt Quintanar is doubling as a linebacker and receiver this fall.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Let’s give a standing ovation to the group of baseball players who decided to also play football this fall and make the most of their high school experience while ignoring those doomsayers recommending to play year-round baseball or you’re supposedly hindering development.

Take the case of Matt Quintanar, one of the best catchers in Southern California who’s a Pepperdine commit. He gave up football after his freshman season at Hart.

“That was my biggest regret,” he said Sunday morning. “I just had to go back and play with my best friends.”


He returned to playing football in his senior season, joining the team after two games. On Friday night, he scored the tying touchdown and the winning touchdown in an overtime victory over Valencia.

“That was surreal,” he said. “They stormed the field, and it was the first time beating Valencia in 13 years.”

He still practices baseball for one hour before going to football practice. He still plays baseball on weekends. But you only go to high school once and yes, he’s heard all the warnings about possible injury.

“If I’m going to get hurt, I’m going to get hurt,” he said. “You have to play hard.”

And football might even help his baseball game.

“I still hit bombs,” he said.

The family of St. Francis quarterback Jack Jacobs knows how to build trust: Invite the offensive linemen to dinner once a week and feed the beasts.

Another top baseball player is Oregon State commit Matthew Morrell of Cypress. He’s one of the best junior athletes and an outstanding pitcher. He started out as a receiver and moved to quarterback when the team needed him because of an injury this season.

UCLA baseball coach John Savage said he likes multi-sport athletes and enjoys football players because they enter baseball with a different mental and physical toughness. Former St. John Bosco football/baseball standout JonJon Vaughns is a starter for the Bruins.

Trabuco Hills has two standout baseball players in quarterback Will Burns and running back Drew Barrett, who play shortstop and center field, respectively. St. John Bosco sophomore defensive back Peyton Woodyard is also a promising outfielder.

There’s nothing wrong with having fun as a two-sport athlete. And it might even help someone improve in both sports.