Moreno remembered for big heart, intensity
Who’s ready for summer to end?Wednesday’s tragic drowning of 20-year-old Oscar Moreno in Lake Tahoe added to what has been a horrible summer for many South Shore residents. Moreno became the second drowning victim on the South Shore since May. Longtime resident Rick Hixenbaugh, 54, died after being knocked from a sailboat into the frigid water near Tahoe Keys Marina.
Moreno’s death is especially tragic since he had so much life in front of him.
I’ll remember Moreno for being one of the most intense and enthusiastic South Tahoe High football players on the field during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Both of those teams advanced to the playoffs and the 2003 squad might have gone on to win state if Reno hadn’t caught fire in the postseason and beaten STHS by a touchdown in the second round of the playoffs.
At only 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds Moreno often gave up 30 or 40 pounds in the trenches, but he never backed down. He was an aggressive player that beat his opponents with quickness and effort.
“Just a competitor,” said STHS wrestling coach Ken Robbins, who also was Moreno’s defensive line coach on the football team. “When you’re a coach the only thing you can’t coach is being a competitor, being somebody who wants to win. He was that guy and always wanted to lead other people to do that.”
Moreno, J.P. Foster, Nate Sweeney and Eric Pacheco formed a defensive front that nicknamed themselves the “War Daddies.” At first, the group wanted to be known as “The Hogs,” but Robbins made them come up with a more original and fitting nickname.
“It meant we’d bring chaos and destruction … it was like an attitude, that we’d take the bull by the horns,” Foster said. “Any four of us, the coaches could have put us at any position and we would have done our best.”
Foster convinced Moreno to go out for wrestling, a sport that played to Moreno’s strengths. In only his second year of competition Moreno became a respected Northern Nevada 4A wrestler.
“No matter what you threw at him, he was going to do his best and he was going to be physical,” Foster said. “He also was one of those friends, no matter what I needed, he would do whatever in his power to get it to me.”
One of Foster’s fondest memories of Moreno’s all-out attitude happened at a buffet dinner prior to a wrestling tournament in Sparks. As a team captain, Foster was responsible for making sure that his teammates didn’t eat too much. Always the competitor, Moreno wound up getting into an eating contest with another Viking.
“Oscar was seven pounds under weight before dinner at The Nugget and the next day at weigh-ins he was four pounds overweight,” Foster said. “He lived life to the fullest. If he was doing something, he was giving it his all.”
A knee injury cost Moreno his senior wrestling season, but that wasn’t the last that Robbins would see of him. To the day of his death, Moreno unselfishly gave back to the wrestling program.
“He’d come out to wrestle with me and the younger guys,” Robbins said. “In wrestling it was where he was equal, instead of on the football field where everyone was always bigger than him.”
Robbins said Moreno will be fondly remembered when wrestling season rolls around in November.
“We will remember Oscar for sure,” Robbins said. “We’ll take and learn from Oscar and readdress the lessons we learned from him prior to our season. We’ll make sure we’ll remember him every day. If not, we lost Oscar for nothing.”
– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or email@example.com.