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Hatch, Corona mesh personalities to Temple City’s benefit
By Miguel A. Melendez
TEMPLE CITY – During practice and Friday nights under the lights, after every victory and defeat, it’s amazing how the boisterous Temple City High School football crowd probably can’t tell the dissimilarities within the team.
They see 11 players on the field wearing the Rams green and gold coming together as a team with one common goal: Victory.
But there are players who are so different, their views and likes so extreme they likely wouldn’t be friends or, even less, acquaintances if not for football.
Take seniors Morgan Hatch and Nick Conora.
Hatch is the signal-caller directing the offense and dissecting the defense’s every move.
Conora is an unassuming presence at linebacker but a brutal force anchoring the defense with immense knowledge, respect and love for the game.
Together they are the perfect 1-2 punch on each side of the line of scrimmage. That much was evident after Hatch led Temple City (1-0) to a 34-0 victory over Arroyo last week to open the season.
Hatch completed 10 of 14 passes for 190 yards and four touchdowns.
There’s no question both can co-exist. That much was evident minutes before the clock expired.
“One thing that really opened my eyes about how different we are and yet how much we respect each other was last week when with two minutes left (Conora) came over and talked to me saying great job,” Hatch said. “(Conora) said, `I’m loving that offense. I’m the captain of the `D’, you’re the captain of the `O’. Just keep running that offense and I’ll take care of my defense’.
“That was like, dang, because we don’t really talk that much or hang out that much but we speak the same football language.”
Temple City coach Randy Backus perhaps summed up Hatch and Conora best.
“The ying and the yang,” Backus said. “One is one way and one is another way, but together they’re all green and gold.
“Morgan is a very serious student; Nick is more on the wild side. He’s a fun-loving guy. He wears some big hooped earrings and stuff like that.
“But once he gets in the locker room and on the field those come off, helmet comes on and he crosses the line; he’s a very serious, dedicated football player.”
Off the field, Hatch is your All-American boy with good mannerisms and a love for sports in general. He stays away from parties on the weekends and chooses to play football with friends or is involved in some sort of sport with friends.
His laid-back demeanor has a lot to do with being raised a Mormon.
Conora is a self-described “Emo” guy. Emo is a genre of music that originated from hardcore punk and since has come to describe several variations of music with common roots and associated fashion and stereotypes.
When Conora rids his team apparel he wears tight pants and rock band shirts.
He often is found wearing earrings that would have only fit had there been a round gap made in his lobes to fit the rings. Conora also has two lip rings, and when the football season is over he grows his hair almost shoulder-length.
Conora has three tattoos, one on his right forearm that reads “Have Heart,” which he just got a few weeks ago. On his right arm he has the shape of California tattooed with the initials “L.A.” in the center. The third is on his chest, a scripted design of his mother’s name, Diane.
“No, I wouldn’t get that,” laughed Hatch. “I don’t think it’s gross (the earrings) but it’s just not my style; it probably wouldn’t fly with my parents.”
Despite their differences Backus said they’ll still be friends 10 years from now.
“Ten years from now they’ll reminisce about football and Morgan will be the wild one and Nick will have three kids; the role will reversed,” Backus chuckled.
Both players admit they don’t hang out as much as they do with their other friends but they’ve developed a bond that started when they met through football their sophomore years and has kept them together since.
It was just before Temple City’s scrimmage against Alhambra about three weeks ago.
Conora wanted a sleeve to cover the tattoo he would get a few days later on his forearm.
“The green sleeve he wears is from my Under Armor shirt,” Hatch said. “I had ripped my long-sleeve during the last game of the season so when I put it on for the scrimmage I began cutting it off and he (Conora) came over and asked if he could have it.”
Backus told Conora the tattoos is something he doesn’t want seen on the field, but that’s not the reason Conora covers them.
“I have respect for the sport and the moms who help out,” Conora explained. “I don’t think they want to see that. They want to see their team disciplined and that’s how I want to see myself on the football field. Outside the football field is a different thing.”
Hatch plans to attend BYU and walk on the team. Conora wants to be an MRI tech like his mother.
It was Conora’s mother who made him re-think giving up the sport he’s played since he was 5 years old after his father, Carlito, died from kidney complications in April. Despite Conora’s wild appearance, he wants to make the most out of his senior year.
“One thing that really got me excited and nervous, too, was that my dad told me this is my time,” Conora said. “This is when I need to shine and show what I got. That’s what always made me nervous because it was more of a hyped up situation where I’m just like, `Wow it’s finally here.’ ”
Both players agreed if not for football they’d probably just be acquaintances because “our differences are way too much.” Both agreed they’d have to compromise on what to do to spend time if locked in a room.
But come game time their emotions run high, their gear is the same and they come together to achieve that one common goal.
(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4485