Tuesday, August 14, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 23

Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week

The following article was posted on October 11th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 32 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 32

Dino Maldonado


Dino Maldonado

For Dino Maldonado, transferring from Ernest Righetti High School to St. Joseph High School two years ago and joining the Knights football team was like getting adopted into a new family.

Maldonado rose to a top position in that family quickly—becoming the Knights’ starting quarterback as a junior and filling the big shoes of outgoing QB Blake Jaeckels. Maldonado said his coaches’ and teammates’ support, as well as a culture emphasizing the group over the individual, helped ease the pressure on him at the time.

“Our football team’s a family, with all of our coaches and our players,” Maldonado, now a senior, told the Sun before practice on Oct. 4. “It was tough [last year], but I felt like we did a decent job. Our offense struggled sometimes, but our defense really carried us and put us in a position to win games. That just helped me a lot with confidence.”

About halfway into his senior season, confidence no longer seems to be a problem for Maldonado. He’s passed for 1,988 yards, 22 touchdowns, and just five interceptions over seven games—with a 70 percent completion rate. In a 70-7 romp over San Luis Obispo on Sept. 29, Maldonado passed for 286 yards and four touchdowns on only 14 throw attempts.

“My success is on my offensive linemen,” he said, humbly. “They’re doing a great job this year keeping me protected.”

The Knights have taken some tough breaks thus far this season, dropping a few early games against out-of-area opponents. The Knights are 4-3, with a highly anticipated showdown versus a dominant Lompoc squad looming in a few weeks.

“We lost a couple games we should have won, but we’re going to keep working hard and moving forward,” Maldonado said. “We have a two-game run right here where we should get two wins. Then we have a ‘bye,’ which should help us a lot going into Lompoc.”

Maldonado said he’s been quarterbacking since the age of 12, which was when he first started playing youth football. He was immediately drawn to the position.

“I’ve always had my eyes set on quarterback,” he said.

Maldonado combines a rocket of an arm with nimbleness in the pocket and speed on the run. His most recent highlight videos show him terrorizing defenses with both his throwing and running strength.

While no official college offers have come his way yet, Maldonado plans to play football at the next level.

“Hopefully I’ll get a few offers under my belt and be able to choose which school I want to go to,” he said.

For now, he’s an integral member of the St. Joe’s family and says the team’s goal this season is to make a deep CIF playoff run.

“We’re all united and we all love each other,” he said.

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