Duarte Has Five on Top

The Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei tight end, Thomas Duarte, has five schools he's focusing on and is getting set to plan some trips...

Though Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei defeated Orange (Calif.) Lutheran 32-21 on Friday, senior tight end Thomas Duarte (6-4, 225) had more than just the win to be proud of.

Before kickoff that night, Duarte was presented with his Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl jersey.

"It's a great honor and a blessing to be there, to be honored with that. It's a humbling experience also because it shows me all my hard work is starting to pay off. Also, it sets a standard for a Mater Dei football player. Here in this program you are expected to be a leader, your expected to be a captain, a role model, and that is what the Marines do for our country." Duarte said.

The game, played January 4th at the Home Depot Center, will give Duarte the opportunity to play amidst the best high school players in the nation.

"I'm really looking forward to playing with all the other guys," said Duarte. "There is a tremendous amount of athletes and talent, and I'm really looking forward to competing against all of them."

The senior captain's performance, which has continued to improve through his senior season, has attracted a lot of attention from schools.

Duarte has however begun to focus in on the offers he is seriously considering.

"My front-runners are definitely Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington," said Duarte.

No official visits have been confirmed yet, but Duarte is planning to set up a few.

"I am trying to go to Oregon for the Stanford game and then Notre Dame for the Pitt game. Those are two that I'm going to set up with the coaches over there," Duarte said.

For now, Duarte's focus is placed on his team and continually fulfilling his role as a strong leader by winning out in the last game of the regular season.

The game will be played Friday at Angels Stadium against long-time rival Anaheim (Calif.) Servite.

"I'm excited for next weeks game, and am going to give it my all. This team looks up to me a lot and I play every game for these guys." Duarte said.

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