Editor's note: This story is featured in the Daily Citizen-News' weekly high school football Touchdown! section. Grab an issue in papers on Fridays during football season, or stop by our office for a copy.
After a football game on Friday night, Manny Vega likes to break things on Saturday morning.
Not in a negative way, but in a constructive way.
The Dalton High School senior offensive lineman helps his father "flip" houses in the area. During the flipping process, they refurbish a home and with the goal of quick turnaround with a nice profit. The experience has afforded Vega the opportunity to learn many parts of the renovation process.
"My dad inspires me to work hard, that's how I've been my whole life," Vega said. "Since I was little I've been helping my dad. We rip out dry wall, rip out kitchens, put in new ones. You get a lot of anger out, especially if we lose on Friday I get all the anger out on Saturday."
Fortunately for Vega and the Catamounts, there hasn't been much losing on Friday nights this season. Dalton (6-2, 4-2 in Region 6-6A) is making a playoff push as the end of the season approaches, taking on region opponent Allatoona (5-2-1, 5-1) tonight at Harmon Field.
"It's been a good season," Vega said. "We've been through some things. We've started to pick it up realizing our season could be over if we don't pick it up. The whole team has a lot of hope to keep going, keep going until we make it to the end."
Vega, who plays right guard and right tackle, has been a steadying player on the offensive line and a stalwart in the weight room, coach Matt Land said.
"He's incredibly strong and has an unbelievable work ethic," Land said. "Overall, he's one of the best kids I've ever been around. He is probably on that offensive front, he and (left tackle) Osbaldo (Beltran), are two of our leaders. They've two of those guys who have seen a lot in three years of starting. We turned them loose in 2017 and kind of threw them to the wolves."
But if not for a clandestine move by Vega's older sister, Karina, he may never have played football.
"She said I was being lazy at home all day so she signed me up without me knowing it," Vega said. "She took me to practice and I guess I liked it."
That was in middle school. Vega had mixed emotions about being forced into playing football. He liked the sport, but it meant his days of practicing karate were over.
Now in his final season of playing high school football, Vega thinks back to the day his sister unknowingly signed him up for football smiles. He's thanked her several times for the push.
"She brought me into this brotherhood," Vega said. "Right now, I don't hang out with any but my family -- football players. Without football, I honestly don't know where I'd be. I'd probably be like a hoodlum doing something I shouldn't be doing."