From one of the first times Trino Flores stepped onto a varsity football field, it was obvious that he had a knack for the game.
Flores is not the biggest player or the fastest, but he has an uncommon amount of confidence for a high schooler and it has helped him become a four-year starter at kicker and a solid defensive back for the Mustangs.
It all started as a freshman when he booted a 25-yard field goal to beat Ellensburg and give Prosser the CWAC regular-season title as time expired.
“That was probably one of the greatest moments of my Prosser High School football career,” he said. “Everybody was big that year and I was a scrawny little freshman. It was scary.”
But success on the field has made it so nothing scares him between the hashmarks now.
His field goal kicking has continued to improve and he has also become a strong defender, while also starting at wide receiver.
“With his confidence and his demeanor, pressure situations don’t faze him. He’s ready for the challenge,” Prosser coach Benji Sonnichsen said. “It’s not like having a kicker come off the bench that has been standing around. Trino is really invested in the game and into the program.”
Flores and his Mustangs teammates will play Mark Morris High of Longview in the Class 2A quarterfinals at 3 p.m. Saturday at McKenzie Stadium in Vancouver.
A big reason Prosser is still alive in the playoffs is the defensive play of Flores, who made a game-sealing interception in the final minutes of a 28-25 victory at Sedro-Woolley last week.
“He put himself in position to pick that ball and seal the game,” Sonnichsen said. “That is one of his strengths too — football intelligence. He is aware of game situations and what needs to happen.”
Flores saw the tight end roll out, played soft on his receiver and intercepted the pass, setting off a scene of jubilation.
“It was a great feeling, knowing we were heading to the quarterfinals,” Flores said. “It feels great having an impact on this football team.”
Flores didn’t start playing football until eighth grade, having grown up playing soccer.
He moved to Prosser in fifth grade from The Dalles and eventually was convinced by his buddy Mason Schutt to give football a try.
“We were with one of my trainers for football in seventh grade and he kicked a soccer ball super far, like 60 yards,” Schutt said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you should be our kicker.’ And he tried out the next year and made it and from there took off.”
He’s developed into one of the best kickers in the area.
In a must-win game against Ephrata in Week 9, he booted three field goals to help the Mustangs offense, which kept having drives stall.
He also does kickoffs for Prosser, giving the Mustangs the ability to do sky kicks, squib kicks — any type of kicks you can name.
Now Flores and the Mustangs are taking off at the right time.
An up and down season has led to a quarterfinal berth and a shot at the semifinals for a second consecutive season.
“It means everything to us,” Flores said. “Just being able to prove all those people wrong that said we can’t do it. We are out here grinding. We have made it this far and are hoping to make it to the semifinals.
“A lot of young guys have been stepping up. Our senior class is small, but that gave opportunities to those other guys to step up and they have. This year has been great.”
And the Mustangs hope it continues for at least another week.