COSTA MESA – As Nate Sagastume darted into his pass pattern, the early-evening sunlight framed a message jotted on his back plate, just below his practice jersey.
The diminutive Brethren Christian wide receiver displayed the word “BELIEVE”, a faithful choice for a player whose trust in football could have been shaken by his team’s agonizing setbacks.
“(I) still believe in football,” the 5-foot-6, 160-pound Sagastume said this week. “If you believe, anything can happen.”
For all the adversity Brethren Christian’s seniors endured in the fall, and the relief that temporarily vanished in the spring, they enter the Orange County All-Star Classic football game Friday night firm in their convictions.
The Warriors’ contingent, it seems, has been strengthened by the challenges of the past two years.
“It’s kind of good because we all get to deal with adversity,” said Brethren Christian wide receiver Jason Fuga (6-2, 185), who will also play for the South All-Stars in the game at Orange Coast College at 7 p.m. “We get to prove ourselves.”
ORANGE COUNTY ALL-STAR CLASSIC
Where, when: Orange Coast College, 7 p.m.
Tickets: purchased at the game, $12.
Brethren Christian also will be represented by quarterback Joey Gutierrez (6-0, 195), linebacker Dante Sanchez (5-9, 190) and Coach Pat McInally, who leads the South into the 58th edition of the game. McInally’s 22-year-old son, Jack, is the team’s offensive coordinator.
In the regular season, the small-school contender went 10-0 on the field but had to forfeit one of the victories because of an ineligible player. The Warriors finished the regular season ranked fourth in Division 10 but stunningly missed the CIF-SS playoffs. Brethren Christian’s freelance status, or a team without a league, was the culprit.
As a freelance candidate, the Warriors couldn’t crack a 16-team postseason bracket full of automatic qualifiers from several leagues, which,…