Column: Chaminade’s Marquis Gallegos is a free safety to watch

Last December, West Hills Chaminade Prep coach David Machuca sat at his desk in his football office and showed newly appointed USC coach Lincoln Riley video highlights of Marquis Gallegos’ sophomore year.

Riley kept bobbing his head up and down.

“I understood the body language that Lincoln Riley liked him,” Machuca said.

Three days later came a scholarship offer.

Chaminade safety Marquis Gallegos makes a tackle during a game.

“His influence on the field and in the dressing room was enormous,” Machuca said.

In his junior season, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Gallegos continues to do things that catch the eye of college coaches. He has 30 solo tackles for the 5-0 Eagles, along with three interceptions. He had four interceptions last season.

In a game against San Juan Capistrano JSerra, Gallegos charged forward from the deep during a simple handover to the jam and made the solo tackle for a loss. It was as if he knew exactly what piece would be played.

“He’s so instinctive,” Machuca said. “How did a safety get that tackle for a loss? How did he hit the defensive line and linebackers on the line?

It means preparation and being one step ahead.

Gallegos starts watching videos of his next opponent on Saturday and watches videos all week to see where a play could go.

“It all goes back to watching movies,” he said. “It’s anticipation.”

He comes from a Safeties family. His father, Sam, played poly safety at Sun Valley High School. His older brother, Isaac, is a security officer in the state of New Mexico. His younger brother Xavier, a fifth grader, is a security guard.

“We’ve always been a defensive family,” Gallegos said.

The brothers used to cause quite a stir. Balls flew around the house, pictures fell over, vases shattered.

“Things are pretty relaxed now because we’re older,” he said.

It’s still weird to see a free safety have the second most tackles on an undefeated team. That usually means the linebackers are struggling, but Chaminade has great linebackers, so it’s more about Gallegos being a ballhawk.

So does that mean that an opponent can burn him deep because he’s sneaking up to make tackles?

“You might try a few times, but I can adapt,” he said.

The position seems to suit Gallegos perfectly.

“I like freelancing and moving and being in the open space and flying around,” he said.

Chaminade surprise in a 5-0 win under first-year coach Machuca, who replaced Ed Croson. The Eagles have impressive wins over Westlake Village Oaks Christian and JSerra. They haven’t faced a top-flight team in weeks and begin Friday night’s Mission League game against Mission Hills Bishop Alemany, a team in progress.

Gallegos should get a lot of tackle chances.

Chaminade has a good chance of going 7-0 into the last three Tests of the season – at La Puente Bishop Amat and at home against Chatsworth Sierra Canyon and Gardena Serra.

Just understand that Gallegos is different. It’s a trademark of the family.

“We are always determined and never give up,” he said. Column: Chaminade’s Marquis Gallegos is a free safety to watch

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