SAN DIEGO — Nearly every young athlete dreams of playing in a professional venue. Chula Vista native Zeke Moreno got to, not only as a member of the San Diego Chargers but as a high school sophomore, too.
“As a kid growing up in high school, that was one of the things,” Moreno said. “You wanted to play for the CIF Championship, but more important, you wanted to play in the stadium.”
Moreno played at the now-demolished stadium in 1994 as a sophomore at Castle Park High School. His Trojans beat Torrey Pines 24-21 to win the CIF Division II title.
He even caught a touchdown pass in the game. It gave him a small taste of what professional athletes go through.
“Sitting in the locker rooms, getting ready and all those things,” he said. “Even though we came dressed. But still, just being able to run through those tunnels and visualize, this is Junior Seau doing it every Sunday and I get to do it Friday night here, in front of my classmates, and family and friends. And I think that’s what you took from it. It was so memorable.”
Moreno went on to play linebacker at USC and then joined the Chargers as a fifth-round draft pick in 2001. Once again, he returned to play in the stadium of his dreams.
“It doesn’t matter how loud it is, you can always hear your mom screaming in the background. So when we were coming out of the tunnel, my first experience was looking around and just right above the tunnel is the family. They were cheering as loud as they could and that just made my heart beat so much faster,” he said.
Moreno played five seasons in the NFL, including four with the Chargers. He now works with his brothers in their family heating and air conditioning business.
When FOX 5 met Moreno at Mission Valley during the stadium’s demolition, he was flooded with memories.
“There’s so many memories beyond my days, before playing with the Chargers, because this is many memories of tailgating with my parents, my grandparents and my cousins,” he said. “As you get older, everyone gets busier so you don’t have that time. I see all this gravel, and within all this gravel, we tailgated in every section of it.”
The Chargers hosted high school championships at the stadium for many decades. The last year they were played there was in 2013. The title games are now played at Southwestern College.
“Those are some of the memories that I have with the Chargers, SC, the San Diego love. It’s so disappointing to not be able to continue that with the next generation. But it’s also exciting to see what’s new,” Moreno said.