They can’t play, but these two students still feel like Murrieta Mesa High football stars
By Shane Newell
Underneath the bright stadium lights, Richard Delgado hovered near the bench while tossing a football into the air.
Wearing a green “Mesa Pride” T-shirt and camouflage baseball cap, Delgado greeted football players in between practice drills, ready to share a laugh or lend a hand.
About 100 feet away, 6-foot-tall, blonde-haired Tobey Kiendra sat on the sideline. His mother, Jami Kiendra, kept an eye on him from the mostly empty bleachers.
Delgado and Kiendra, two Murrieta Mesa High School students, have found ways to contribute to the Rams football team — even though they can’t play. Delgado, 17, was born with a heart condition that prevents him from participating in contact sports. Kiendra, 16, is autistic.
As the Rams prepared for their biggest game in the school’s eight-year history Friday, Nov. 17, against Glendora High School, players talked about the boost they get from having Delgado, a senior, and Kiendra, a sophomore, with the team on the sidelines.
“It’s just been kind of eye-opening to see that you can love the sport and not play it at the same time,” senior lineman Aiden Batista said.
Murrieta Mesa High School students Tobey Kiendra and Richard Delgado, seen Wednesday, Nov. 15, don’t play but have become a part of the football team during its historic season. Photo by Frank Bellino, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG
Murrieta Mesa High School student Tobey Kiendra, who is autistic, plays catch with quarterback Jeff Miller at a Wednesday, Nov. 15, practice. Photo by Frank Bellino, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG