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Senior Spotlight: After a string of bad luck, Jake Steels re-tools in the classroom, will attend Fresno State
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Senior Spotlight: After a string of bad luck, Jake Steels re-tools in the classroom, will attend Fresno State

Jake Steels seemed headed for an all-everything 2020 senior sports school year at Righetti High School.

He was a big-play wide receiver and a lock-down cover man in the secondary during the Righetti football team's first five games. Then he broke his ankle in the Warriors' game at Dos Pueblos.

Steels did not play again the rest of the season.

For all of his football accomplishments before the injury, Steels' favorite sport is baseball. Recovered from the ankle injury, the center fielder was hitting .550 for the 2020 Warriors baseball squad.

The COVID-19 pandemic put an end to Righetti's season with the Warriors sitting at 4-4. The last sports event on the Central Coast took place March 13.

On April 3, the CIF State Office formally announced that all spring post-season sports events were cancelled.

After the season-ending football injury and his truncated senior baseball season, Steels said, he threw his all his energy into his studies.

"I did have more time to concentrate on studies and get ready for college," said Steels, who carries a 3.7 GPA at Righetti.

With campuses across the state closed in March because of the pandemic, "Righetti made it really easy to access online courses," said Steels. "Props to them for that."    

Steels wrote in his essay that he has carried a 4.0 GPA both semesters of his senior year in high school.

Steels wrote in his scholarship essay that he had looks from NCAA Division I schools for football, but those dried up after the injury.

"Some smaller schools did talk to me about football," Steels said. However, he decided to forgo those options and attend Fresno State.

"I chose Fresno State because it's close to home, and my mom really didn't want me leaving the state," said Steels.

"The school has a great academic program. It just worked out all around."

Steels was the Righetti nominee for the 2020 Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table Male Athlete of the Year scholarship.

The NSBCART customarily awards its scholarships during its annual awards dinner. The organization cancelled its 2020 dinner because of the pandemic.

Steels said he will try to walk on to the Fresno State baseball team.

"I might red-shirt my freshman season, but I will likely try to get on the team that year. I will just try to play anywhere they have a spot for me."

Steels helped the 2018 Righetti football team get to the CIF Central Section Division 2 title game. He was a three-year varsity baseball player.

Steels hit .287 as a junior for a Righetti baseball team that made it to the Division 1 semifinals in 2019.

With team workouts cancelled because of the pandemic, "I just try to work out (individually) to get ready for college," baseball, said Fields.

Fields is undecided on a major. "I'll just see where college will take me," he said.

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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