St. Francis lineman excited to play in Hall of Fame All-Star game before heading to Notre Dame to play rugby.
Above: St. Francis offensive/defensive lineman Daniel Scheper.
What: San Gabriel Valley Hall of Fame Game
Where: Bassett High School
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Who: East vs. West
By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer
SOUTH EL MONTE – To an area football player, being chosen to play in the annual San Gabriel Valley Hall of Fame All-Star Game is a huge honor.
It gives players a chance to compete with some of the top players in the San Gabriel Valley, as well as showcase their talents one last time as an outgoing high school player.
St. Francis High School offensive lineman Daniel Scheper will be representing the West team Friday night at 7:30.
Unlike some players, Scheper will take the field at Bassett knowing full well that this will be the final time he will step onto a football field.
And he’s fine with that.
Scheper, a 6-foot, 240-pound offensive and defensive lineman, will be living a life-long dream in the fall when he’ll attend Notre Dame University in the fall.
“I’ve been a Notre Dame fan since birth, basically,” Scheper said. “My parents are both law school alums there and ever since I was a kid, if you would’ve asked me where I was going, I would’ve told you I’m going to Notre Dame.
“It’s kind of like a fairy-tale type of thing to be able to say that I actually am going there.”
While he won’t be playing football for the Fighting Irish, Scheper will still be in the midst of a huddle. The St. Francis graduate will be a member of Notre Dame’s rugby team.
“It’s a very fun sport and I just figured it would be a good substitute for doing nothing, but I realized that it would just be a new challenge because it is a lot different from football,” Scheper said. “There are a lot of different nuances to learn, so I felt it was an exciting challenge to see if I can get good as a sport that was completely new to me.”
Scheper’s ride to Notre Dame could be described as a dream come true. One that got better as time went on.
He had decided long ago that Notre Dame was where he wanted to attend school. Being a member of the rugby team was merely a twist of fate.
“It’s just kind of dumb luck that I decided to play this spring for the local club team, the Los Angeles Cougars, because some of my friends were on the team,” Scheper said. “I didn’t really think much would come out of it, but when we went to Pittsburgh for the national championships, the Notre Dame rugby coach just happened to be there and watched me a little bit. I had the opportunity to meet with him and he said, `Come out and play.’ It was just totally out of left field and it’s a pretty unbelievable opportunity.”
The St. Francis graduate was one of the anchors on the offensive line as the Golden Knights finished 4-6 despite numerous injuries throughout the season.
“I think I kind of legitimized myself,” Scheper said. “Everybody had kind of heard about me and some people didn’t know the brand of football I played and it showed that I can perform well under adversity.”
It didn’t take long for South El Monte and West coach Erick Escamilla to recognize Scheper as a legitimate player.
“He’s a tremendous offensive lineman and a great technician,” Escamilla said. “He’s tough, strong, smart and can make the calls for the offensive line.
“Kids like that make you proud to be a coach. The future is bright for him.”
Escamilla was impressed with how quickly Scheper picked up the West’s blocking scheme, as well as his work ethic.
“It’s not easy picking up a new blocking scheme as far as the running and passing games, and his attitude is just work, work, work,” Escamilla said. “He never takes a play off.”
Scheper played in an all-star game at Birmingham High School, but it didn’t keep him from appearing in the Hall of Fame game.
“They played on a Friday and the next day he was ready to go in full gear,” Escamilla said. “He is as tough as they come and if you get 11 guys with his mentality, you’re not going to lose a ballgame.”
Scheper is excited to have an opportunity to officially end his high school career with a bang.
“It’s been a lot of fun so far because you get to know a lot of different people, some of them opponents, and some of them from high schools you’ve never heard of before and you get to broaden your horizons a little bit,” Scheper said. “It’s special for me because I’m not going to play in college, so this is my final game and it’s a pretty important thing for me.”