Bears running back duo excited to show opponents what they can do

Bill Choy
Mount Shasta Herald
Mount Shasta Bears Marcus Delgado, left, and Gaspar Rodriguez are expected to form a formidable running back tandem for the Bears this season.

With COVID-19 sidelining high school sports for the time being, teams have been hard at work in Siskiyou County preparing for the season.

Teams have been allowed to practice and train this fall, including the Mount Shasta Bears football team.

Two Bears that have used the extra time to their advantage are senior running back Gaspar Rodriguez and fellow back,  sophomore Marcus Delgado, a transfer from Paso Robles High School.

Rodriguez welcomed Delgado from the first day they met and the two players quickly formed a bond. They train  together each day, and play on a 7-on-7 football team based in Medford, Ore., that travels to different locations in the state to play each weekend.

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The Bears’ first-year head coach Mitch Crossley said the bottom line is the team is a close-knit family that has bonded as a unit.

He said it is a true brotherhood and seeing Gaspar take Marcus under his wing and embrace him instead of seeing him as competition has been wonderful to see firsthand.

“These kids have been isolated just sitting on a computer all day,” Crossley said. “When they come together for practices it’s great to see them enjoying each other through the sport. I have realized the importance of being together as an extended family more and more every day. I am trying to build that family atmosphere which now is more important than ever.  Gaspar’s example  is exactly what our team is about.”

“It’s been going well,” Delgado said about his preparation for the upcoming season, which is tentatively expected to begin with games in March. “We’re trying to get in as much practice as possible before it gets too cold.”

At his old school, Marcus said things were much more about competing against his teammates and not as much about working as a team. Things have been different in Mount Shasta, where everyone works together with the common goal of being a cohesive squad and winning football games.

“It’s a lot smaller and everyone’s more encouraging here,” Delgado said. “Everyone supports each other.”

Gaspar said from the start he understood it was important to establish positive relationships with Marcus and to be a good teammate and friend to him.

Gaspar said Marcus has worked hard alongside him and it will pay off when games start next year,

“I’m excited,” Gaspar said. “We are working hard to do things right and I have enjoyed working with him.”

Delgado said he was a bit nervous his first day coming out to practice but said that everyone warmly welcomed him. 

 He was impressed that Gaspar came right up to him and invited him to train with him. Delgado said it meant a lot to have a senior and fellow running back see him right away as a friend and teammate. 

 “It was so impressive to see Gaspar be a true leader, go up to Marcus and make him a part of the team from the start,” Crossley said.  “He leads by example and set a positive tone.”

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“He’s pushing me to be better,” Delgado said about Rodriguez. “We’re all friends here and look out for each other.”

 “I think we can be a great team this year,” Marcus said.

Marcus likes that Gaspar is an elusive running back that can gain a big chunk of yardage down the field. He said this complements his tough, gritty running style where he is able to pound his way down the field for tough yards.

Crossley believes having two quality running backs will make things difficult for other teams to stop. The Bears have a big, talented offensive line to open up holes for them. 

“You can’t just focus on one guy with our running game,” he said. “I think teams have to watch out for what we will be able to do.”

He added that the entire team is committed and believes they could have an excellent season.

“These kids are focused,” Crossley said.”I think this can be a special season for us."