Wagoner sophomore Gabe Rodriguez may not quite have the athletic ability of two older brothers who were former stars for the Bulldogs.
But he has the same determination, toughness and “the same mental DNA of being a winner,” coach Dale Condict said.
Rodriguez, who plays on special teams, had a field day in his first sustained varsity action Friday as the 4A No. 1 Bulldogs rolled to a 70-0 win at Catoosa.
Playing for an injured senior defensive back Chase Nanni, Rodriguez had seven tackles, including one for loss; recovered a fumble; and returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown against the Indians.
He also had a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
"That's not bad for a season's worth of statistics, let alone for one night," Condict said with a chuckle.
Rodriguez’s oldest brother, Roman, played inside linebacker and was an inspirational leader for the Bulldogs’ 2014 state championship team, the first of three in a row.
Roman also belted a walk-off home run to put Wagoner into the 4A baseball state tournament and played college football at Northeastern State for a time.
Malcolm Rodriguez helped lead the Bulldogs to three consecutive state titles, winning his final 37 games as a starting quarterback.
He also starred on defense, won two state wrestling titles and is now a senior defensive back at Oklahoma State, one of the Cowboys' leading tacklers after receiving second-team All-Big 12 recognition last year.
"They are probably two of the best athletes in Wagoner Bulldogs history,” Condict said. “I think Gabe understands the shoes he’s trying to fill. I’ve told him that whether he performs as well as they did doesn’t matter as much as doing the best he can with what he has, and he does that."
“He’s one of the more mentally mature sophomores I've ever been around," Condict said. "He's kind of a cool, calm character, very instinctive. And he tackles like a wrestler."
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