Player to watch: Alex Galgano, Archbishop Murphy

In the second quarter of first game of his varsity career, a stunning injury thrust Alex Galgano into the spotlight that perennially lights up the offensive backfield of Archbishop Murphy.

It was 2010’s season opener at Ellensburg, and Galgano watched as the ambulance came onto the field to pick

up senior captain Randy Gordon, who was laid out on a stretcher after suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

A lesser player would have wilted under the pressure of the situation and in the Central Washington heat.

Not Galgano.

The sophomore rose to the occasion, rushing for 114 yards and two scores on the way to the win.

Cascade Conference football preview

• Lakewood tight end Dustin Stanton is a quarterback’s best friend
• Player to watch: Alex Galgano, Archbishop Murphy
• Teams at a glance

[Click here for the Wesco preview.]

By the end of the season, Galgano had racked up 1320 yards, 16 touchdowns and a selection to the Associated Press 2A All-State team for the Wildcats, who lost in the championship game.

Murphy coach Dave Ward didn’t see Galgano’s season coming.

“It was a bit of a surprise how well he did,” Ward said.

Opponents will expect Galgano to deliver again this season as the junior heads a scary stable of Wildcat ball carriers, including fellow juniors Morgan Masanda, Liko Tevaga and Hans VanderWel. All rushed for at least six touchdowns in 2010 and will make it difficult for defenses to focus on Galgano.

“Right now, it’s just a team with a lot of depth at running back,” Ward said. “We are going to keep Alex Galgano fresh and allow him to play some defense.”

As his sophomore season progressed, Galgano earned the starting nod at safety, and that is where both Ward and Galgano think he has the most room to grow as a player and positively impact the Wildcats in 2011. Galgano’s first choice is carrying the ball, but this off-season he’s worked more on his defense.

“I love to run the ball,” Galgano said. “Running the ball is a lot of fun. I’m not the best at safety, but I’m going to get better.”

Can he kick it?
Not only does Galgano play at a high level on offense and defense, but he is also the team’s punter, which makes for a dangerous weapon on fourth down that can be a nightmare for opposing coaches, who have to predict what the Wildcats will do.

Galgano started punting in peewee football and has had a knack for it ever since. He loves getting on the field, however he can.

“It’s kind of a special skill,” Ward said. “You’d think it would be a soccer player. He’s athletic enough to be able to make the ball do what he wants it to do … It comes pretty natural to him.”

Multi-sport star
Galgano earned three varsity letters his sophomore year at Murphy. In addition to football, he played basketball and catcher for the baseball team. It doesn’t surprise his football coach that Galgano is so active.

“He’s a guy that spends a lot of time on the athletic field and really seems to thrive and love it,” Ward said. “It’s hard for him to say no to sports.”

Although he hasn’t decided yet, Galgano may be saying no to basketball this winter because his favorite sport is baseball and he hopes to attend college on a baseball scholarship, though he hasn’t eliminated football in his future by any stretch.

“I think baseball is my number one sport,” Galgano said. “I’m going to try to be a D-I athlete in that category. But I’ll take any way to get to college if I can go football or baseball.”

Brotherly love
For the most part, Galgano and his brother Jonathan hadn’t attended the same schools until their parents enrolled Jonathan as a freshman at Archbishop Murphy this fall. It is something that the elder brother has been looking forward to.

“It’s great,” Alex said. “I was really excited to hear that he was going to come to the school with me because I haven’t really gone to school with my brother. To be able to play with him and coach him up is just awesome.”

During the first week of summer football practice, the freshman players have mixed with the varsity squad, and it has allowed Alex to take his younger brother, who also plays running back, under his wing.

Ward has been impressed with Alex’s maturity and how he has developed into a leader. There has no better evidence of his growth than how he’s helped his younger brother.

“He’s really supportive of his younger brother,” Ward said. “He really wants to see Jonathan be successful. He’s not just playing out there. You can see him coaching, encouraging and really caring about his family.

“That is a great example of the kind of person he his and his compassion for others.”

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