Prior to the start of this Covid-19 shortened football season, Nevada Sports Net published a list of 21 high school football players to watch this season, and one of those players is Damonte Ranch junior offensive lineman, Ilex Garcia.
The name should sound familiar, Ilex, is the son of Noelle and Richie Sr., however, it is Ilex’ older brother you are probably familiar with, Richie Garcia Jr.. Richie was a four-year varsity football letter winner at the Ranch. My friend, James Kitchen, met Richie prior to his freshman season at Damonte, at a football camp hosted by the University of Nevada. Kitchen introduced himself, thinking Garcia was one of the Nevada players helping work the camp, only to find out Richie was an incoming high school freshman. In addition to the all-state accolades Richie earned as a football player, he also earned respect as a wrestler, going to state his senior year where he took fourth in the 220-pound weight class, while weighing in around 200 pounds. While there are similarities between the two brothers, Ilex recognizes there are differences as well. When asked if he feels like he is playing in Richie’s shadow, Ilex said, “I realize I am different than my brother. He has his strengths and I have mine. People have confused me around town, thinking I am him. He had success on the defensive side of the ball, I am building confidence on the offensive side of the ball.”
As a sophomore, Ilex earned all-region honors in football, and has qualified for state, as a wrestler, as a freshman and a sophomore. As a sophomore, Ilex won the 220-pound weight class and took fourth at state. Ilex would like people to know that the Damonte offensive lineman, “Play fast and mean. We spread the defense out and we are coming to hit you. Our offensive line has been playing together since our SYFL days, we have some good chemistry there.”
This week, Ilex and the Mustangs will be taking on the Douglas Tigers, and even though the Mustangs are 2-0, and riding a wave of success, they prepare for each game like they are the underdog. “Douglas is coming to our backyard to compete. Each week we must prepare like we are the underdog, which gives us a little motivation to work harder in practice.”
Sadly, Ilex lost his junior wrestling season to the Covid-19 virus, but the virus has taught Ilex, and his teammates, how to be malleable, “I have seen how our team has been able to adjust and adapt, and that is going to help us in life, as we face challenges. We are lucky, fortunate, to be playing, and we are taking each week like it could be our last game. I’m really happy for the seniors, they get to play their last year of high school football.”
The Tigers will bring a 1-1 record to Damonte for Friday night’s contest. Senior running back Trevor Kruger is averaging 114.5 yards per game. Sophomore quarterback, Aden Flory, looks for Cameron Swain, who is one of the top wideouts in the North. As a junior, Swain had 33 receptions for 651 yards, and scored 6 touchdowns. The Tigers opened the season with a 26-0 home defeat of the Galena Grizzlies, and a 35-13 loss at Bishop Manogue last week.
Douglas at Damonte
Friday night, 6:00 PM
If you are not able to attend in-person, you can catch the game on the NFHS network
Final Word, Richie Garcia Jr., on his brother, "Ilex' success has been nothing less than great! I've seen him grow, from a small age, and to see him, now, as a junior and a leader on the football team, is something special."
About Your Author – Lynn Ault covers Damonte Ranch for Battle Born Preps. Both of his kids attended DRHS where his wife, A’Laina, is a math teacher and head of the math department. Ault is also the Youth Pastor for Hope Community.