There has been a lot of great athletes in the San Pedro prep sports scene, a lot of great individual memories, but none has meant so much more to their team in 2013, than Pete Palacios was for San Pedro High football.
The senior played running back and wide receiver on offense, and he was a stout linebacker who hit quarterbacks like a defensive lineman, while also dropping back into coverage and pick off passes like a safety.
In his three years at San Pedro, the Pirates went 28-9 overall, with a 19-4 record at Pirate Stadium, claimed a perfect regular season and a Marine League championship during his sophomore year in 2011, and has garnered two All-CIF Los Angeles City Section selections, including this past season's honor as the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Co-Defensive Player Of The Year. Palacios earned that same honor for the entire Marine League this season as well.
"I am honored to receive those awards because only a select few Pirates have earned those awards, let alone win both of them," says Palacios, the 2013 News Pilot Prep Sports Male Athlete Of The Year. "There were a lot of good players with Division I offers in the Marine League and City Section, and I was just really honored to have won those awards."
It was well deserving too.
Palacios led the Pirates with 111 tackles, 65 of them solo, and 17 tackles for loss, along with three sacks, one forced fumble, and three fumble recoveries. His lone interception was a 55-yard 'Pick 6' against Carson, which Palacios says was his most favorite moment of his senior season.
"That helped us get back into the game," Palacios said of his lone defensive touchdown during the Pirates' 27-21 loss to Carson from October 11.
Palacios' game wasn't confined to one side of the gridiron.
Offensively, Palacios also ran for 820 yards and 9 touchdowns on 120 carries, while also catching 23 passes for 310 yards without a touchdown. Palacios posted 100-yard rushing games this season against the likes of Morro Bay, Gardena and in both Division I playoff games against Fairfax of Los Angeles and Venice.
There was one particular play that jump-started Palacios' monster senior year in the opener at Morro Bay.
On the first play of the third quarter and already with one touchdown in the books, Palacios would get a gaping hole from the offensive line and he would burst right through it for a 73-yard touchdown that put San Pedro up, 14-0 and would spark the Pirates to an eventual 21-0 victory over a top-notch CIF-Southern Section program on August 30.
The impressive thing about that play? Palacios almost predicted it would happen at halftime during the locker room adjustments while the Pirates were clinging to a 7-0 advantage.
"I felt proud of my offensive line because right before at halftime I told my line we we were one block away from opening up the run game," Palacios said. "And the very next run play I scored."
Palacios also made some spectacular catches in the City Section Division I playoffs, like making a great play off a tipped pass to save a possible interception for a 36-yard gain in the final seconds of the first half, setting up a touchdown run by quarterback Jacob Miller in San Pedro's 31-23 first-round victory over Fairfax on November 15. Then in the quarterfinals against Venice, Palacios took a severe hit while catching a 34-yard bomb from Miller in triple coverage during the Pirates' 28-14 loss.
"I was just trying to help my team out as much as I can so we could move on to the next week," Palacios said in recalling those two catches. "Even if that meant catching the ball in triple coverage (at Venice) or tip the ball out of the defenders hand and just waiting for it to come down in the Fairfax game."
Palacios, who's being looked at by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Sacramento State, UC Davis, University Of San Diego, Colorado State, and numerous D-2 and D-3 schools, credits his coach Mike Walsh, the late assistant coach Jerry Aguilar, and the entire staff for molding and mentoring him to be the player he turned out to be.
"They guided me in learning and understanding of the game of football and the logic behind football," Palacios said. "They helped mold me into a man and a team player. Each coach helped me in different aspects of the game from the variety of positions I played."
When the big games came, especially in the Marine League, the big players came out. Palacios was certainly money in clutch situations during his time at San Pedro, but there was one particular battle in league he looked forward to the most.
"I looked forward to playing Narbonne every year," Palacios says of his battles with the Gauchos, who were 2-1 against San Pedro in his three years. "MaxPreps.com and all the newspapers had us losing and every time we played them we either beat them or lost by just a little. Those games we're always fun and memorable even if we lost."
When asked about what he'll miss the most playing at San Pedro, his answer was pretty simple.
"Playing at Pirate Stadium in front of our loyal fans," Palacios said. "There's nothing like playing in front of a packed crowd at Pirate Stadium."
And there certainly was nothing like watching Palacios do his thing at Pirate Stadium.