Jehiel Budgett started playing tackle football when he was in the fourth grade, and before then he played flag football.
In eighth grade, he met Zach Larrier, who moved to town that year, and would eventually make an impression on his future high school teammate.
“It’s great because when I moved here in eighth grade, I was playing with him and was like, ‘who is this guy? He’s super skinny, super bony,’ and to see him grow as a person and as a player and become the player he is now, I’m so proud of him. I’m just so happy for him,” Larrier said.
This month, both Monterey Trail football student-athletes were offered football scholarships from schools that resonated with them and on Dec. 19, Budgett signed his letter of intent to U.C. Davis and Larrier signed his letter of intent to play for the U.S. Air Force in a joint signing ceremony at Monterey Trail High School.
Budgett, who received three scholarship offers, said he knew when he toured the U.C. Davis campus during the Dec. 15-16 weekend that he had found the right school.
“Probably ultimately this weekend, I took the official visit there. I kind of knew when I was there because the whole experience was great, meeting all the coaches, the facility, everything was great,” Budgett said of when he made his decision after taking pictures with family and Mustang staff after he signed his letter.
Budgett and Larrier helped lead the Mustangs to a 12-1 record in 2018, and played a school record-breaking undefeated season leading up to the Div. I Sac-Joaquin Section Championship game, which they played against Folsom.
Larrier, a three-sport athlete, faced a huge hurdle just before the 2018 football season.
After his junior year of competing in track and field, he tore his hamstring.
“After my junior track season, I tore my hamstring. I was battling back from tearing a hamstring and getting ready for my senior season of football, and that was pretty tough because I couldn’t really run too well and there were only some things I could do but I made it through and we had a great season so I’m excited,” Larrier said.
Throwing 18 touchdown passes this year, Larrier ended up having his best season yet, setting the Mustang single-season record for touchdown passes in a year.
The theater at Monterey Trail was filled with classmates, teammates, family, Mustang coaches, and administration and media on Dec. 19, and after speeches and a slideshow, Larrier and Budgett signed their letters of intent.
“I was just ecstatic. It was one of my first scholarships that I earned this season so I was happy. I think it was my fourth one, and to be offered by a service academy is huge. You have to have academics and you have to be a good player on the same hand so I was super excited about it,” Larrier said when the Air Force offered him his scholarship.
Budgett, who is thinking of majoring in managerial economics, said that he was always watching football as a child, and the fact that his brother played football help spur his interest in the game.
Budgett rushed for 1,564 yards and 23 touchdowns and had 232 receiving yards for one touchdown in his senior season.
“It’s a great day for them, their family and our program. Getting everyone signed is awesome. At the end of the day, their parents are outstanding,” Ewing said. “They had good family, telling them to devise a work ethic in the classroom and got that taken care of first, and the athletic ability was there and the toughness and resiliency to keep playing a sport like football all those years, it shows a lot of character.”
As he prepares to move onto the next stage in his football career, Budgett was asked about ending his prep career with the highlight-filled season.
“It means a lot because there’s really nothing like high school football. It’s just different. The brotherhood you have with your teammates, just everything about it is unique so I’m happy we had a great year,” said Budgett.
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