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Spartans leaving the battlefield: Five Central football stars headed to five different states

Central Union celebrates student-athletes for all committing to college football level

EL CENTRO, Calif., (KYMA, KECY) - For student-athletes across the nation, there is eventually a time when one of the biggest decisions of their lives has to be made: choosing the next destination.

At Central Union High School, that decision came for five football standouts over the last several months. And in an unprecedented fashion from the Imperial Valley - their paths each landed in different states to continue their football, and educational, journeys.

Five athletes, five states. Each of them spreading their wings to take on different challenges, different experiences and different football - all after making their mark together in one place at Cal Jones Field in El Centro.

In front of practically the entire student body - along with coaches and administration - on Friday morning, Skylar Cook, Jacob De La Rosa, Brennan Havens, Gavin Marini and Charlie Sullivan were all honored. A chance to speak in front of their peers and mentors - while saluting the pride of Central for their accomplishments.

A special day for everyone involved in the program.

"This is what it's all about. We want to see them go off and continue their education and also play football," said Athletic Director Joshua Wise. "We're proud of them. We hate to see them leave but we believe that they set the tone for the future students at Central Union High School."

While it will be tough to see them not take the field next fall, they all left the school very proud and shows that students from the community can open themselves to other things.

"Their willingness to take that leap of faith of trying something new, trying something different is huge," said coach David Pena. "Really that shows the growth of the person within the student-athlete."

That leap of faith takes a new meaning in this situation - where all five found their new homes in separate locations, separate states. Something coach Pena eluded to when addressing the crowd, saying "I've never been to one school where we had five different athletes sign to five different states."

Back in December, Skylar Cook and Charlie Sullivan hopped on their decisions during the early signing period - each going to Division I programs.

Cook signed with the University of New Mexico, while Sullivan signed with Cal Poly, representing the only Spartan to remain in the state of California.

But just recently, a few more Spartans joined the party and signed their commitment to continue playing on the gridiron in the future.

Offensive lineman Brennan Havens signed with Ottawa University of Arizona after a wonderful job anchoring down the front line for the Spartans offense.

Staying on offense, wide receiver Gavin Marini signed with Benedictine College in Kansas.

And on the defensive side, Jacob De La Rosa, who was a force for opponents coming off the edge and through the middle of the trenches, signed with Culver Stockton in Missouri.

Thus, completing a huge accomplishment for the Central football program and the whole community.

In the end, showing that student-athletes from the Imperial Valley can get it done just like those in bigger areas across the state, and country. Something the administration hopes can set the foundation for future athletes.

"Football was able to keep them above water and now they're able to get scholarships and have part of their school paid for, if not, all of their school paid for," added Wise. "It's just a special thing that they didn't need to be from Los Angeles or San Diego County to take the next big step or the next big goal. They did it right here in El Centro."

Article Topic Follows: High School Sports

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Cole Johnson

Cole Johnson is News 11’s Sports Director.

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