Maybe this was the last touchdown catch of Jonathan Vasquez’s life, but it probably won’t be.
There just aren’t that maybe 6-foot-2, 195-pound pass catchers with the body control, deep-ball skills and focus that he has. Maybe this is just the first chapter in a new book for the Leilehua senior.
Playing in a defensive, almost tortuous (for fans of offensive football) demonstration of might by Team Liberty, Vasquez stepped up in a large way on Friday night. He hauled in four passes for 84 yards, including a 24-yard spiral from RJ Javar (Moanalua) in the final minute. Then came an astounding, almost poetic piece of work in the back of the end zone against double coverage. Vasquez dove toward the back line of the end zone, got both knees inbounds as he cradled a perfect pitch from Javar for a 21-yard TD with 9 seconds left to give Team Freedom a 12-6 win over Team Freedom in the Commanders game at Aloha Stadium.
“We saw the corner bailing, and then we just let it go. Every time he would bail and I was wide open,” Vasquez said. “He threw the ball good and it was all good. I thought he was going to throw it to somebody else. I knew I was inbounds.”
It might have been the best catch ever in the growing history of JPS Senior Bowl Classic matchups.
For now, the future remains relatively mysterious for Vasquez. More like a blank, as in ______.
“I’m not sure yet,” he said. “My grades are good. My SAT isn’t the best. I haven’t qualified yet.”
The kind of plays he made under duress with a game on the line may have brightened his future. Vasquez says he’ll be preparing for the next level, probably junior college, parts unknown. That will require communication, applications, planning. Budgeting. Life as a JC student-athlete is challenging at best, especially at the financial check box.
Even on his own team at Leilehua, Vasquez was third in receptions (25), third in receiving yardage (427) and second in TD catches (six). That’s a testament to teammates Jayzon Ramos and Kalei Akagi as much as anything else.
For now, the shiny, colorful trophy that comes with the JPS honor is going right to Vasquez’s room at home. He wants to take it on the road if he goes to a JC like Orange County Community College with teammates like Ramos.
“I need my friend with me,” he said.