SEQUOYAH — Miguel Fulgencio has been labeled “Big Papi’’ for a very simple reason. Just like former major league baseball slugger David Ortiz, who shares the same nickname and also Fulgencio’s home town of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the Sequoyah senior is a very heavy hitter.
Like Ortiz, this Big Papi can also swing the bat with authority, but unlike his hero, Fulgencio can run track, shoot a basketball and is almost untouchable on a football field.
Simply put, he’s too big, too strong, too fast and too good. He proved it last week against Verdigris, dashing for 419 yards on 17 carries and scoring six touchdowns. Halfway through the season the 6-foot-2, 195 pound running back-safety has already surpassed his senior ambition.
“My goal was to break a 1,000 yards,’’ said Fulgenio, who now has 1,040 in the Eagles 4-1 start to the season. “I fell short last year with 900 after I missed three or four games. Now I just want to get as many as I can.’’
Given the moniker “Big Papi’’ by friend and Sequoyah quarterback Nathan Stritzke, Fulgencio is a multi-talented threat with 15 touchdowns this season. He’s also caught eight passes for 136 yards and averages 13 yards per carry.
“Obviously, he has the speed and athleticism,’’ said Eagles coach Matt Hagebusch. “He’s a big kid with physical presence. The thing he’s really improved on is understanding of what’s going on in front of him with his linemen. His vision is a lot better with his patience to hit the hole, going north and south. His conditioning and his shape have never been better.’’
Ironically, Fulgencio had never played any sport until coming to the United States as a child.
That’s when he met Stritzke and his new pal introduced him football, baseball and basketball.
“I’m a pretty quick learner and I liked football because I like hitting people,’’ said Fulgencio, who gets his chance to tackle opponents in the Eagles’ defensive secondary. “When I was younger I was a center and Nathan was the quarterback, but in the sixth grade I started playing offense. I could run and I found out I was a lot faster than anyone else, but I fumbled a lot as a freshman.’’
Maybe so, but Fulgencio discovered that on the bright, side there are glory moments to be enjoyed.
“We were playing Tahlequah Sequoyah at home my sophomore year and they were getting ready to kick a field goal,’’ he recalled. “There was a bad snap and the holder decided to roll out. I was there and took it 89 yards and we ended up winning the game.’’
Such displays have earned Fulgencio plenty of attention by college recruiters. Wyoming, Eastern Michigan, Illinois State and Missouri State are interested along with Pittsburg State, Central Oklahoma, Northeastern State and NEO. Oklahoma State, Wichita State and Arkansas are looking at him in baseball.
At least one school is eying Fulgencio as a defensive player, but his dream is to play running back at Oklahoma. He said he feels more “comfortable’’ in an offensive role. It was more than apparent last week in Sequoyah’s 69-21 victory over Verdigris.
“Coach said he wanted me to have a big game. He put it on our line(men) and they helped me have a big game,’’ said Fulgencio, who has 4.35 speed for the 40 and said he plans to run track next spring. “A guy at halftime told me the state record was 407 yards. Our goal was 300, but I told the coach and he wanted me to break it.’’
Although the state rushing record has not been confirmed, it is certain Fulgencio had one of the better rushing performances in Oklahoma history. Either way, he’s trying to take it all in stride (pun intended).
“I enjoy running to the middle and I still enjoy hitting people,’’ the rocket man said. “I get excited when coach calls 42 trap or 41 trap (runs through the line). I’m just thinking about getting as many yards as I can. I have pretty strong legs.’’
It’s a good bet they will take Fulgencio a long way as he continues to prove there is strength in numbers on a football field.