Julius Aquino returned to high school football in Oklahoma this fall and immediately made an impact on a team that went all the way to the state final.
Aquino, a junior, played safety and tailback for Vian High School, which appropriately enough is located on Victory Lane in Vian.
The team compiled plenty of victories this season with a 13-2 record and finished runner-up in Class 2A after a 42-34 loss to Metro Christian in the Class 2A state championship Dec. 14.
Aquino, son of Alexandra Sanchez, started a few games on a solid defense that held opponents to fewer than 20 points in all but two games. He was also a regular on all special teams and saw some action on offense in the backfield. He scored a few times.
“He did really well,” said Vian assistant coach Kenyatta Wright, who handles linebackers and safeties. “He made the transition from Florida back to Oklahoma and getting back in the mode of football. It was tough on him. He didn’t play much last year in Florida.”
After starting his high school career in Oklahoma for Fort Gibson, where his uncles Jesse and Sammy Sanchez starred in previous seasons, Aquino played his sophomore season in Florida for American Heritage School’s junior varsity team. He returned west this season and fit right in at Vian.
“He’s a good athlete and the biggest asset he has that a lot of kids don’t have is speed,” said Wright, who played at Oklahoma State University and in the NFL.
Wright also praised Aquino’s work ethic.
“He worked his tail off all year and contributed to this team,” Wright said.
Vian notched four consecutive wins in the playoffs to reach its first state championship in a dozen years. Next season’s squad is expected to be strong, too.
“We have a lot of kids coming back next year and Julius will be a huge part of that,” Wright said.