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By Izzy Gould
Published December 21, 2007
Jose "Joe" Montelongo had been benched in the first half Wednesday for roughly 10 minutes. Coach Barry Grayling thought his star forward was pressing too much.
"Relax," he told the Pasco senior. "If it doesn't come tonight, it will come tomorrow or the next time."
Pasco's humble star came out settled in the second half then netted a goal, which turned out to be the winner. Time wound down and it appeared the 127 career goals of former Gulf star Novica Marica would stand as the most for at least one more night.
Then, on the field where Marica set the county record in 2005, Montelongo matched it. He broke it in the final minute of a 4-1 win at Des Little Stadium. On Thursday, he made it 129 career goals in a 4-0 win at Springstead.
Nickname: Joe Mama
Born: March 24, 1989, in Zephyrhills
High school experience: Four-year varsity starter
College plans: He's talking with Saint Leo today about joining the Lions next season.
Favorite sport: Soccer
Shoe of choice: Nike Vapors
Number: Seven. He got the number his sophomore year and asked for it because that's a number many of the game's top professional players wear.
Pregame meals: He usually goes to Checkers or Subway or gets pizza.
Record-breaking ball: Montelongo got to keep the record-breaking ball. In return, Grayling offered two new soccer balls to Gulf.
Want to score 129 goals or more?: "Stay focused on what you want to do. Keep everything else out of the way of soccer. Don't hang around with the wrong crowd," Montelongo says.
Moments after he broke the record: "I knew I had to score three to break the record. It's an honor to break the record."
What's next?: "I'm going to try and break my single-season record for goals."
Jose can't remember the first time he scored a goal, but one of his early memories was scoring in a youth league from midfield. Long-range goals are no fluke. He's had several in high school, including one this season from roughly 40 yards out. His leg strength comes mostly from natural ability. He doesn't work out, but playing in three soccer leagues throughout the year keeps his legs strong. Grayling said the 40-yard goal was his best individual effort.
"He just picked it up, set himself up and just smacked it," Grayling said. "It went in like a rocket. Over the years his goal-scoring ability speaks for itself."
Montelongo is passionate about his Catholic beliefs. He wears rosary beads with a cross, and he has a bracelet on his right wrist with images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and various saints given to him by a friend. Before games, Montelongo has to remove those items because of FHSAA rules prohibiting jewelry. And he's considering getting a tattoo of Jesus.
"I feel like it protects me," Montelongo said of bracelet.
First goal: In a 3-1 loss to Gulf in 2004-05.
25th goal: In a 3-1 win over Zephyrhills in 2005-06.
50th goal: In an 8-0 win over Hudson (he scored four).
75th goal: In an 8-0 win over Hernando last season.
100th goal: In a 7-3 win over Gulf this season (he scored five).
125th goal: In a 3-1 win over Ridgewood this season.
128th goal: In a 4-1 win over Gulf on Wednesday (he scored three).
2004-05: One in district tournament and two in regionals
2005-06: Six in district tournament, five in regionals and one in final four
2006-07: Two in district tournament and three in regionals
Goals by grade
Senior: 34 and counting
Grayling on Montelongo's knack for scoring: "He's got strength and great ability on the ball. He shoots from both feet and has great vision for the goal. Some days he can be good, and some days you just don't want to be in the way. He can read the game very well."
John Grice, economics/American government teacher, says Montelongo is relatively quiet in the classroom but works hard. Although other students know who he is, he doesn't bask in the limelight. He'll always recall Montelongo's effort in last year's region final, a 3-2 loss at Ponte Vedra Nease: "(Montelongo) got hurt the game before. He was out there limping like you wouldn't believe still trying to go. You walked off that field knowing he was a big part of the game."
Pasco senior Trent Sumner on what it's like having Montelongo on his team: "Joe's more of a goal scorer. That's what he's supposed to do, and that's what he does. Whenever we need a goal, he usually gets it. He's usually on the field, but you can tell the defense from the other team relaxes when he's off. It's not like Joe's cocky or anything. I know he's good."
The name Montelongo has been a constant on local high school fields in recent years. Jose's two older brothers, Gabe and Gilbert, started their high school careers at Pasco then transferred to Wesley Chapel. Their younger sister, Jessica, is on Pasco's girls team.
Soccer is almost as important to Montelongo as family and Catholicism. He was often involved in fierce family battles of "World Cup," where eight siblings and cousins teamed into pairs going head-to-head trying to be the last team standing. Jose's mother and father were born in Mexico but weren't soccer players until the boys were old enough to play. Soccer became the family sport when Jose's mother signed the boys up to play in a local recreation league.
"I just wanted to do what they did," Montelongo said of his brothers.
Montelongo began playing organized soccer when he was 6. He can't remember the name of the team but thinks the uniforms were "baby blue." He plays on three teams, including a Hispanic league in Dade City and a club team. If Montelongo's not playing soccer, he's watching it. He closely follows the Mexican League and stars such as Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo (English Premier League) and the Los Angeles Galaxy's David Beckham (MLS).
[Last modified December 20, 2007, 21:39:03]