|Versatile and aggressive Benjamin Delgado is looking to end the losing at Hawthorne High along with the rest of his team (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).|
Benjamin Delgado was in Kindergarten during the last time Hawthorne High School produced a winning year in football, which was a 7-4-1 mark in 2004.
Now, as a three-year varsity letterman playing at a school that’s had a string of 10 straight non-winning seasons, the versatile running back and safety wants to help change the culture at the former Los Angeles area powerhouse before his prep career rides off into the Southern California sunset.
Delgado, who holds one scholarship offer from Idaho State of the Football Championship Subdivision, said he’s confident that this year’s team can turn the Cougars’ fortunes around.
“We’re just trying to get the program back up. We have more talented athletes now,” Delgado said.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Delgado said practices have intensified under head coach Donald Paysinger, who’s entering his third season at the helm.
“It gets pretty tough at practice. But we just fight through it. We work,” Delgado said.
During the 1990s, Hawthorne was a regular at CIF championship games, with the last section title coming in 1992 as a Division III competitor. Former NFL and USC star Curtis Conway was one of Hawthorne’s main catalysts during the Cougars’ dominant years.
But dark times hovered over Hawthorne during the start of the 21st century. Not only did losing take its toll on a once proud program, but Hawthorne is known for “The Streak”: which was a string of 45 consecutive losses that stretched four years long, ending on Oct. 3 against Firebaugh of Lynwood in a climatic 27-22 victory. Hawthorne’s skid ranks as the third worst streak in California high school football history.
Now, Hawthorne has endured back-to-back 3-7 seasons. The last non-losing year came in 2011, when the Cougars finished 5-5.
Looks like Delgado and Hawthorne enter the football field accompanied by pressure as they try to restore a winning culture. But Delgado insists that’s not the case.
“We don’t really have that much to resurrect. Our coaches tell us to create our own legacy because we are a new era, so what we create is better,” Delgado said.
On the field, Delgado describes himself as a “Down the hill hitter.” His highlight film shows his ability to run down the middle and neutralize the run. Delgado shows good eyes and angles with stuffing the run. He’ll also shoot out his hands against an oncoming blocker, shed past his defender and then wrap up the running back.
He comes equipped with a lineman’s mean streak on offense. At fullback, Delgado shoves his defender to the turf like he’s a 300-pound right tackle or guard. He’ll take draw plays and eat up a chunk of yards when he gets called upon to carry the football.
His versatility has made him Hawthorne’s other national recruit along with defensive back Jaylen Morgan, who holds three offers from BYU, San Diego State and Northern Colorado. Along with his pledge from Idaho State, Delgado said he’s hearing from California-Berkeley and Northern Arizona through letters.
He’s had a village get behind him on the recruiting trail; ranging from his parents, Hawthorne coaches and his club coaches on Gamechangers L.A.
“I’m so thankful for everyone who’s helped me out in the recruiting process. It’s definitely not easy and a lot of hard work,” Delgado said.
But, the main goal this fall for Delgado and Hawthorne is destroy the losing. Delgado shared five words to help reach that goal:
“We’ve got to keep working.”