In San Fernando High's 'big family,' QB Solano is favorite son

It's 3 p.m., and the gate entrance to San Fernando High is locked. Luckily, two students who work as water girls for the football team are standing on the other side of the fence, and who better to offer insight into the team's star quarterback, Cristian Solano, than someone who's offering him water when he's not always in the best of moods.

"He's amazing," Adilene Rivera says. "He's a good kid."

"He's always the one stopping fights," Karla Guerrero says.

San Fernando, which opened in 1896, has never had a quarterback quite like Solano, a 6-foot-3 senior who's obliterating school passing records.

He has passed for 3,394 yards and 42 touchdowns, breaking the season record he established last year. He has rushed for 1,052 yards and 16 touchdowns. He's completing 70% of his passes. He has a 3.4 grade-point average and, after games, between 10 and 15 freshman and sophomore girls are always waiting to greet him and take photos. And he graciously stays until everyone is satisfied.

"I'm not going to say no," Solano said. "They're little freshmen wanting pictures."

Solano smiles and makes everyone feel as if he's their best friend.

"Everybody in school loves him," Coach Robert Garcia said. "Everybody believes in him."

He arrived at San Fernando in the middle of his sophomore year from Bakersfield after growing up in Texas. He speaks so easily and comfortably in front of an audience that some people think he might one day become a politician.

"He's got the charisma, the intelligence, the leadership," Garcia said. "He has the whole team behind his back. There's something special about the kid."

Solano, who has led San Fernando to an 11-0 record and No. 1 seeding in the City Section Division II playoffs, is sincere about trying to share his accomplishments with teammates and fellow students.

"I have love for all these kids," he said. "We're a big family here."

Make no mistake about it, Solano is trying to succeed to help not just himself but his family. His mother and father are his biggest fans, and he wants to earn a college scholarship to take away the burden of paying for a college education.

He has his first official recruiting trip scheduled for Nov. 30 at Nevada. Considering the statistics he has produced, his grade-point average and the leadership qualities he possesses off the field, it's surprising more schools haven't come out to talk to him.

"I'm going to wait and be patient," he said. "I'm going to have to make them come."

After accounting for nine touchdowns — six passing, three running — last week in a playoff win over Verdugo Hills, all he could say was, "They gave me the ball and I had to do what I had to do."

If a college recruiter wants to make sure about Solano's disposition, all he needs to do is speak to a water girl.

"We treat them like they're our sisters," Solano said.

That's the sign of a quarterback with the character to go places.

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