Edgar Segura's improbable high school football journey — rooted in tiny Mendota, blossoming into a state record-breaker and reaching a national audience as well through a moving ESPN documentary — writes one final chapter Friday at Lamonica Stadium.
The running back will play for the County in the City/County All-Star Game at Lamonica Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Then it's on to Utah or Mt. San Antonio College for the 5-foot-8, 185-pounder with career statistics unrivaled in the 121-year history of the Central Section — 8,029 rushing yards, 137 touchdowns and a state-record 900 points.
But the number that means most to him now is what he scores on his NCAA entrance examination. He's awaiting the result.
Should he pass, he'll go to Utah, which is recruiting him as a "guaranteed" walk-on. That means the Utes of the Pac-12 Conference will put him on scholarship after a redshirt year.
Should he fail, he'll go to Mt. SAC, a junior college in Walnut in eastern Los Angeles County. And there he would grayshirt, meaning he would practice only with the team in the fall while taking a part-time academic schedule, then take a full load in the spring and play games for the Mounties in 2015.
"I want to play D-I," he said following a County practice this week at Kerman. "Utah's campus is nice, big and quiet — it's perfect."
Segura — The Bee's 2013 Player of the Year and Cal-Hi Sports State Small Schools Player of the Year — made what was considered an unofficial visit to the Salt Lake City school in April with his mother and Mendota football coach Beto Mejia, who financed the trip.
And it was there that Segura immediately learned at a Utes spring practice that the team had seen the season-long documentary, aired in February and repeated several times since on various ESPN networks.
It features the odds-beating success of Segura and the Mendota program in a community with an unemployment rate of nearly 40%.
Aztecs players such as Segura typically work long hours in the fields in the summer to help support their immigrant families.
Mendota, with an enrollment of 700, went 32-4 with two section titles in his three-year career after Mejia took over the program.
"As soon as I walked into (Utah's) practice, the players shook my hand, saying they respected everything I've gone through," Segura said. "That made me feel like, 'This is another Mendota team right here.' It felt like a second family."
Segura will have to pay for his education in the first year at Utah, should he attend. But he can draw from a college fund launched by unsolicited donations from people touched by the documentary nationwide.
"It's nice because they gave me the chance to live my dream," he said. "If that happens, it will mean a lot."
Segura was recruited by Mt. SAC after coaches there also saw the documentary.
They then showed it to their players, who were given a motivational speech by Mejia when he visited the school with Segura.
Mejia's fine with Segura's second option — Mt. SAC. But the coach says the player, long range, would better benefit from Utah because of its academic resources.
"Those people would hire tutors for every class he takes," Mejia said. "Edgar would grow most as a person at Utah; it's a lifetime opportunity."
Mejia said Segura was also recruited by Fresno State as a "preferred walk-on," only without a guarantee of an eventual scholarship.
Segura said that while he appreciated the documentary, he could only watch it once because it closes with the clock striking 0:00 in the Aztecs' 31-19 loss at Liberty-Madera Ranchos for the Division V championship.
So fatigued, and cramping, two-way player Segura could hardly walk off the field: "I just don't like watching that last game. I just can't get over the feeling. I hate losing; that's just me."
City leads series
Segura will rotate in the backfield with Bee All-Star Javin Harrison of Washington and Izzac Suarez of Dos Palos for the County, which trails the series 28-21-3.
Coach Bill Magnusson of Firebaugh is large at quarterback in his own Josh Allen (6-4, 200) and Kingsburg's Brandon Steele (6-3, 230).
City coach Matt Johnson of Edison will counter with quarterbacks Andrew Trahan of Memorial, R.J. Hartmann of Clovis and what he calls the game's "sentimental story," 5-5 Brandon Moua of McLane.
Upcoming City/County All-Star games
Football: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lamonica Stadium, all tickets general admission; adult & students $10; children 6 and younger admitted free with an adult
Boys volleyball: 6 p.m. Saturday at Fresno State's South Gym
Girls basketball: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Buchanan High
Boys basketball: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Buchanan High
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