Class of 2016 offensive lineman pancake-ing his way to the playoffs

By EFN Staff
Published: 11/06/2014

While some small high school programs across the nation may have to rely on freshman to help fill out a roster to help provide depth, the quality of talent at San Clemente High School is not lacking making that a needed option. Most big high school programs playing at the top level in their given state hope to avoid playing freshmen if possible. But every now and again a once in a decade, if lucky, or once in a 30 years kind of player comes around that is not only able to contribute as a freshman but able to hold his own on the gridiron and succeed, such is the story of Donte Harrington.

High school football teams in the U.S. are filled with guys that are in the 6’2” to 6’5” range weighing 260 to 300 pounds. Few have the motivation or determination to do something with that talent.

Class of 2016 Tritons’ offensive lineman Donte Harrington is one of the rare exceptions with size, 6’2”, 275 pounds, and ability having started since Coach Jamie Ortiz pulled him up off the freshman team four games into the 2012 season.

Harrington has made the most of his opportunity having started 25 straight games for the 8-1 Tritons playing guard.

In an Elite Football Network exclusive interview Donte sat down for a one-on-one interview talking about football, recruiting, and his love for the game.

Donte, the Tritons are off to an 8-1 start and are loaded with talent. How far will the team go into the postseason this year?

“We’re looking pretty good. We’ve had some really great moments as a team throughout the season so far that has tested us and brought us together as a team. Teams like Trabuco Hills (42-35 win) have been a big test for us. We’re looking good moving forward as a team and we are starting to blend together really well. The playoff run is going to be a lot of fun.”

What does the team need to do to continue the early season success into the playoffs?

“From a preparation standpoint it really takes the whole team to do what is needed to succeed. I’m a firm believer in perfect practice makes perfect play in the games. Our team has really worked on becoming a great practice team and we are seeing that translate to the games. We have great coaching and we’ve gotten better as the season has gone on. Hopefully that will continue into the playoffs.”

In your opinion what are the strengths of the San Clemente team?

“We have a lot of talent on the team. Our running backs Vlad Dzhabiyev and Brandon Reaves and quarterback Sam Darnold (USC commitment) are doing great work putting our team into position to win each week. Our linebackers, like Riley Whimpey, are doing a lot of great things. Our defensive line gives a lot of great effort. We have a couple of really good secondary players in Andrew Frohner and Jake Russell – those guys are the strength and core of our secondary.”

What are your strengths on the field?

“I think I’m technically sound with my pass and run blocking. I use my knowledge to my advantage. I’m not seeing any new things from opposing defenders so my experience is helping me a lot this season. My physicality is a big part of my game as well. I’m doing my best to dominate the guy(s) in front of me.”

How many pancake blocks do you have this season?

“I have 45 pancake blocks in nine games.”

Entering the season what were your goals for your junior campaign?

“My goals for us as a team are to be outright league champions, win CIF, and state. We feel like we have a team that can accomplish those things this year.”

What about for you personal play on the field?

“Personally I’d like to be selected as an all-league player and get a scholarship offer. If I continue to work hard on the field, weight room, and in the classroom I believe that can happen for me.”

Have you played up to your own expectations this season?

“I feel like my play and the way that I’ve preformed on the field are all-league levels. My play this year is really all about how well the coaches have prepared us as a team and the training we’ve done off the field to be ready for the games.”

What schools are recruiting you right now?

“I’m getting letters and interest primarily from Cal and Missouri, hopefully that will pick up moving through the season. I’ve met with Arizona State recruiters and Boise State came by last week.”

When the time comes to pick a college to attend what are the main factors you will consider in choosing a college?

“Education is first but I really like the idea of joining a very successful program, especially one with a tradition of producing strong offensive lineman.”

Do you have a college or NFL player you enjoy watching get the job done?

“I trained with USC freshman lineman Viane Talamaivao when he was in high school (Corona Centennial High School). I like the way he plays, he is very aggressive with his blocks. In the NFL I like watching Tennessee Titans guard Chance Warmack (University of Alabama).”

Who has made the biggest impact on your football career?

“I have two people that have had a big impact on my football career. The first person is my dad. He’s a really great example of hard work. He was in the Marines Corps for 31 years and played football for the Marine Corps. He has taught me a lot about the physical aspect of the game. The other person is Sean Harlow; he’s a sophomore at Oregon State (started nine games at right tackle as a true freshman). I played with Sean at San Clemente. He’s a great example of playing the game physically and with maximum effort. He never leaves anything on the field and always plays hard.”

What is your favorite part of playing football?

“I really just love the game. I love playing with all my teammates. One thing I strive for is to earn the respect of my teammates but also the respect of the people you are playing against. I love that aspect of the game, play your heart out, and shake the other team’s hands after the game win or lose. That is something that is really unique and I cherish that part of the game.”

In an interview in the near future the next great San Clemente offensive lineman will surely be giving Donte Harrington the respect that he deserves from his hard work on and off the field as a leader of the Tritons.

Before long the scholarship offers are soon to be rolling in from top programs across the nation. Young Mr. Harrington has won a Scholar Athlete Award the past two seasons for carrying a 4.0 grade point average… he is carrying a 4.0 again this year assuring him of success on and off the field for years to come.

Photo credit: San Clemente High School; No. 79 Donte Harrington.