FOOTBALL: Three of a kind

Raymond Gonzales prepares to snap the ball to teammates Jamie

A family tradition: Recent GHS grad joins father, brother as
all-star game participants
It didn’t take long for the three of them to start the football talk. They were together for no more than 10 minutes on the turf at Gilroy High School before Cordero Gonzales turned to his father, Ray, and brother, Raymond, and began to describe what transpired at a practice for the 37th annual Charlie Wedemeyer Silicon Valley Youth Classic earlier in the week.

Arriving in separate cars, the short trip from their home to the field was but a brief interruption to whatever they had been discussing beforehand. They didn’t miss a beat. And apparently, whatever happened at that practice was pretty hilarious as the three burley men, who average in height around 6-foot-2, strutted toward the 20-yard line laughing all the way.

“That’s all we talk about,” said Cordero, who graduated from GHS last month and will suit up for the South for Wednesday’s all-star classic.

The commonalities don’t stop with at the football banter.

When Cordero takes the field, it will assuredly be a splendid moment.

Three Gonzales men, one game.

As a Silver Creek graduate in 1977, Ray also participated in the Santa Clara County all-star exhibition.

“That was a tough two weeks. I played on a team that had two guys who went to the NFL,” Ray recalled of his all-star service. “I got my butt kicked and reality set in. I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. But it was fun. It was kind of like my opportunity to play a mini Rose Bowl.”

Raymond, an all-league center for GHS, was the first of the two brothers to follow in their father’s footsteps, playing in the 2009 contest, which ended in a tie, with four other GHS alum – Jamie Jensen, Dante Fullard, Richie Sotelo and Tony Travis.

Now it’s Cordero’s turn.

“I think Raymond was in the eighth grade the first time I took him to the all-star game,” Ray said. “I told him, ‘you can do this one day, but it’s not going to happen just playing video games.’ Cordero saw his brother play in the game and that was a goal that he had and a goal that he has achieved. I feel very proud that both have been able to play in it and I feel very proud that I played in it once upon a time.”

Cordero, the self-proclaimed “baby” of the bunch – though nothing about the lineman screams baby – wasn’t sure if a selection into the prestigious gala was in the cards following a disappointing senior year. The Mustangs went 2-8 and the postseason accolades he had envisioned heading into the season didn’t pour his way.

“After our season, I didn’t get the league awards I wanted and I kind of just assumed I wasn’t going to get in,” Cordero said. “I was mad because it wasn’t my fault that the team wasn’t as good.

“My dad told me if you work as hard as you can and do the best you can, you will get there,” said Cordero, who will play at Foothill College in the fall.

Cordero did do enough to standout and in January learned that GHS coach Steven Lo nominated him for the game. One month later he received the thumbs up.

“I called my dad and everybody at the house was pretty excited,” Cordero said.

Standing out not just as players but also as upstanding people of the community are two markers Ray implored his sons to strive toward as they shaped their paths.

“Work ethic,” Ray said matter of factly. “Nothing in life comes easy. Whether it’s in the classroom, whether it’s at home. It’s going to take more than what most people are willing to give. You look at the job market, jobs don’t go to the people that just give bare minimum, they go to people who give 110-percent. And that’s what I’ve tried to instill in them.”

Though his football career last just one year into college, “my family felt like it was time for me to get a job,” Ray said. The diligence, commitment and hard work it takes to be a successful athlete remained a vital piece in Ray’s persona.

So when it came to the point where his sons were old enough, he sat down with each of them – Raymond was in the eighth grade and Cordero the sixth. Both were just getting into football, on the fence, if you will. And both remember the conversation.

The boys were listening.

“He sat us down and asked us how good we wanted to be,” Raymond said. “From that day forward he has been our mentor and trainer.

“He never pushed us so far that we didn’t want to play football. But there were times when we thought we were too good, and he brought us back to reality.”

The brothers are surprisingly quick to admit to being “weak” prior to their dad implementing and maintaining a strict workout regimen, which focused on weight training and technique sharpening at all hours of the day.

“There were many, many days where it was tough. There were battles,” Ray said.

“It was fun, it was difficult. There’s a point where you have to figure out where you’re the dad and where you’re the coach and staying on that fine line where you kind of keep things in perspective. You don’t want to try to live your life through your kids but yet you don’t want your kids to go out there and embarrass themselves. I got lucky with two boys who wanted to do well.”

Their dad struck a chord, and no matter how inconvenient the workout sessions were – after games, early Saturday mornings, before school – motivation to be the best was plenty to fuel the competitive fire.

“I’ve always wanted to be better than my dad in every way. I think every son wants that,” Raymond remembered. “So I thought, to be better than him, I have to play in this game. Once my senior year came, it was about everything I was training for.”

As the three reminisced about the past seven years, and anxiously prognosticated what Wednesday’s game might bring for Cordero, a grin couldn’t be held back at points. Some outbursts were of the mocking variety, others, you could tell, were conjured up as memories flashed through their minds. Loudest, though, was the collective chuckle when mom, Cheryl’s, passion for football was brought to the table.

“It’s definitely a family affair,” Ray said. “She will tell them when they get their butts kicked. She is knee- deep in it.”

To that Raymond added, “My mom may not know a lot about football, but she is a tough woman. She has been there through thick and thin. She’s the middleman. She will hear both sides and then solve the problem.

And Cordero, not to be left out of the conversation, “She will let us know when we are getting lazy.”

With the jokes aside, a slight pause between the three segued into a short sentence that had them nodding in agreement.

“The game kept us together. No doubt about that,” Ray said.

The 37th annual Charlie Wedemeyer Silicon Valley Youth Classic is slated for a 7:30 p.m. start at Spartan Stadium in San Jose.

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