RACINE — He was a lanky kid who didn’t exactly fit the physical profile of a high school running back.
But whenever Joe Garcia took a handoff, the Horlick High School senior created scenarios with his legs that have not been seen too often in Racine County. From effortlessly cutting on sloppy fields to accelerating around the corner and out-sprinting defenders to the end zone, Garcia was all about electrifying crowds.
“You just don’t see 6-3 guys who can make those kinds of cuts,” Franklin coach Louis Brown said.
He was so effective, in fact, the Garcia has become the first player from a Racine public school to be named the All-Racine County Player of the Year since Horlick quarterback Steve Morris in 2008. Garcia won the honor over St. Catherine’s quarterback Da’Shaun Brown in a vote of the county coaches.
It was difficult to dispute considering Garcia was one of the most exciting players to ever carry a football in Racine, which his statistics support. In 359 career carries for the Rebels, he has averaged a remarkable 9.95 yards per attempt. He also has scored 25 touchdowns that covered at least 45 yards.
“He almost takes your breath away every time he touches the ball because it’s a potential touchdown every time,” retiring Oak Creek coach Mike Bartholomew said. “You cannot let him get his shoulder square to the line of scrimmage. He has a great ability to cut back and he gets very small in the hole and he’s really a big kid.
“I’ve watched him for three years and he’s never really taken a big hit and those are the guys who really become outstanding players.”
Brown takes it one step further. He compares Garcia to former University of Wisconsin All-American Melvin Gordon and could see him perhaps playing at the highest level of football some day.
“He reminds me of Gordon because he was so fluid,” Brown said. “He’s a kid, to be honest, if he gets everything in order, he’s athletic enough to play at the NFL level. I don’t say that about too many kids, but he has that kind of athletic ability.
“We played them in a mud pit and he glided across the mud. I was like, ‘How is this kid running that fast and making all these cuts while all our kids are on the ground?’ You don’t see too many kids like that in the state.”
Garcia, who is working on improving his grades, would like to take his football skills to the next level.
“I’m taking things one step at a time,” Garcia said. “It’s high school, then college, then, hopefully, the NFL. I’m not too worried about the NFL right now. I’m thinking about college and where I’m going to end up.”
If Garcia continues chasing his dreams as diligently as he did at Horlick, good things are bound to happen.
“It’s exciting,” Garcia said. “I’m humbled and blessed to be the player of the county. I felt I deserved it. I put forth the effort and dedication in becoming the player of the year.”