Christian Guerrero could have been a statistic. But thankfully something got in the way of the 6-foot-7, 315-pound E.C. Central senior.
Playing football for coach Stacy Adams and his staff has turned the corner for the soft-spoken Guerrero.
"You're going to hear a lot about him in two years," Adams said.
Really, though, Adams hopes you hear a lot about Guerrero on Friday night, when E.C. Central (9-2) plays West Side (7-4) in the Class 4A Sectional 17 championship game at Morton.
Adams was speaking of Guerrero's college future, which is on the two-year plan due to a slow start for Guerrero.
"He showed up as a freshman then kind of disappeared for awhile," Adams said. "He was really struggling for awhile in the classroom early. But I think football has really helped this young man find his way."
Colleges such as Kentucky, Cincinnati, Eastern and Western Michigan are interested in recruiting Guerrero. But since he was walking down a wayward path four years ago the monster lineman will likely have to take the junior college route to play Division I football.
"Football changed my attitude in everything," Guerrero said. "I learned I had to hit the books, keep studying and do my best."
Serious, committed devotion to prep football has saved a lot of Northwest Indiana souls through the years, especially those from urban neighborhoods. That has been the story in East Chicago over the past four years for Adams.
Growth and success on the football field has carried over into the classroom, the most important playing field. Guerrero's story is not unique. The growing football family in E.C. is changing a lot of lives, just like the Cardinals' opponent on Friday, West Side.
"Football is great and fun, but that is the most important thing," Adams said of lives being changed.
Guerrero plans on studying law enforcement in college. He has a desire to work in either the FBI, DEA or as a police officer once his playing days are over. The window for that is still wide open.
"I would love to make it to the NFL one day," Guerrero said. "I pray to God every day."
E.C. hasn't played West Side since 2000. It is the second sectional championship game for both teams, but neither school has won it. It will change one way or the other.
"We just have to come out and play good," Guerrero said. "We have to leave our hearts on the field."