Estancia's Montillo leads by example

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

The senior's team-first attitude permeates his squad, as they start the season strong.

December 22, 2012|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
  • Estancia High defender Cristian Montillo is the Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week.
Estancia High defender Cristian Montillo is the Daily… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

As a kid, Cristian Montillo used to go to his older brother's basketball practices at Estancia High. It wasn't because he was a big basketball fan. It was because Montillo's brother, Rafael, took care of him.

Rafael brought Montillo with him because no one else in the family could watch the 9-year-old during those hours.

While Rafael played on the court, Montillo played as well, by himself with his Game Boy Advance. To get through his brother's workouts, Montillo played video games.

Montillo paid more attention to the screen on the handheld video game console than what was going on inside the gym. Because he focused on the competition on the screen, and not on the court, Montillo never fell in love with basketball.

It didn't matter that his brother's team won a lot that season. What won Montillo over was soccer. Looking back, Montillo is happy he opted for a sport that he gets to use his feet to touch the ball instead of his hands in the field of play.


While he didn't pick up basketball as Rafael did, Montillo followed his brother to Estancia.

In his fourth season as a starter on the boys' soccer team, Montillo has led the Eagles to an impressive start. They began the season without allowing a goal in the first six matches.

The team's defensive attitude was a big reason for the early success. Before every match, Montillo, part of the last line of defense, talked to the goalkeeper.

"I got you," Montillo said to whoever played keeper that day for the Eagles. "I'm not going to let them score on you."

Montillo kept his word to keepers Enrique Salazar and Danny Guerrero for almost three weeks. At some point in the season, Montillo, a center back, figured the defense would give up a goal.

That's what happened on Wednesday. But one goal led to three more and the Eagles suffered their first setback of the season. A 4-2 nonleague loss at Edison stung Montillo and the rest of the Eagles.

Gone was their unbeaten start to the season. Rather than harp on what happened, or point fingers, Montillo showed his leadership skills. He told the team to move on.

"Montillo represents [what] our program [is all about]," said Coach Robert Castellano, whose team is 3-1-3. "He's positive, but he gets on these guys when he has to."

Montillo is the type of player who commands respect. He's a captain, but there's more to that title.

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