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Baby, they were born to run

In a sport dominated by big guys, Makela had a heavy impact at Del Oro
By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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LOOMIS — Mike Makela may not have been the biggest fullback in the Sierra Foothill League last fall, but he was the best. Makela, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound graduating senior from Del Oro High, led the SFL with 1,533 rushing yards and 2,189 all-purpose yards. The tri-sport athlete played point guard last winter, playing some of his best basketball during the Golden Eagles’ eight-game win streak that keyed a playoff run. He also excelled on the track this spring. Makela is the Auburn Journal’s male Athlete of the Year for the 2007-2008 school year. “Pound for pound, he’s one of the toughest guys I’ve seen,” said Casey Taylor, Del Oro football coach. “For a guy to be that size and do what he’s done is impressive.” As a junior in 2006, Makela backed up Cameron Fraser, who rushed for 1,876 yards and led the Eagles to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals. “His senior year he got the opportunity and he took advantage of it,” Taylor said. Makela, who also played defensive back, averaged 118 yards per game and scored nine touchdowns to lead Del Oro to an 11-2 overall record and a tie with Granite Bay atop league standings last fall. He was voted as the SFL’s most valuable offensive player by league coaches. “Mike is a great team player,” Taylor said. “He’s a great kid on and off the field.” Playing off the bench for much of the basketball season, Makela established himself as a defensive specialist. He held Rocklin guard Jackson Cummings to five points in Del Oro’s 71-48 upset of the Thunder on Feb. 13, the team’s first SFL loss in three seasons. He scored a season-high 12 points in Del Oro’s 66-64 win over Colfax on Dec. 27 at Placer’s Kendall Arnett tournament. Makela also ran track for Del Oro, competing in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and running the opening leg on the boys 4x100 meter relay team. He plans to play football at local powerhouse Sierra College in the fall.