Moorpark High’s Justin Conyers achieves it on the football pitch and in the classroom

Justin Conyers helped lead the Moorpark High men’s soccer team to an 11-0 start. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

When Justin Conyers was six and kicked a soccer ball in the family living room, he remembers damaging the television, which cost him $ 300. His parents were not happy.

“They made me collect the money,” he said. “They didn’t mind kicking the ball around the house. Just be careful where you hit it.

There was also the time he broke a vase. You have to make risk-for-reward decisions when a young boy falls in love with a bullet at his feet. Fortunately, Conyers became more precise when the ball was in the house.

As an 18-year-old senior, he led Moorpark High to an 11-0 record. He has a scholarship awaiting him at UC Irvine and is a prime candidate to become a valedictorian with his cumulative grade point average of 4.8, never having received a grade other than A for four years at Moorpark. .

All he’s done in sports has been playing football since he was 5 years old. His father, Jeremy, loved basketball growing up, but decided he was too short at 5’8, so he played football at Newbury Park High. He thought Justin wouldn’t be tall, so soccer was sport. Still, Justin has grown into a family giant at 6 feet, 145 pounds.

A turning point for Justin came in 2014 as he watched the World Cup on television. It was the year that Germany beat Argentina 1-0 to win the championship. He used to watch games with friends and remembers Thomas Müller as the star player.

“For some reason this World Cup has completely changed my outlook on football,” he said. “It showed me the emotion, the compassion of people. For some reason, I fell in love with the joy when people were scoring. It made me think it’s really cool. I want to continue to persevere and hope to get there one day.

Conyers has seven goals and seven assists this season. Moorpark coach Manny Galvez, who played football at Granada Hills Kennedy High and works full-time with the Los Angeles Fire Department, marvels at Conyers’ ability to anticipate game-changing moments .

“Anytime you have players who are playing two lengths ahead, they’re going to make a lot better decisions,” said Galvez. “He’s playing in the attacking midfield. He’s like the team’s quarterback. He is able to complete our offensive transitions.

Conyers started at AYSO and has been playing club football since the age of 7. At the age of 12, Conyers scored the game-winning goal to send his club team, Real So Cal, to the national championship.

Last week against Camarillo, he scored the only goal of the game and showed his decision-making prowess.

“I can see the games before they happen, the spaces open up,” he said. “I had the ball in the middle of the field and kept dribbling when no one was pressuring me. Some of my teammates were asking for the ball. I saw that the defense didn’t know whether to put pressure on me. or block them. They decided to go to my teammates. I shot it. “

Justin Conyers of Moorpark High kicks the ball during practice.

Justin Conyers of Moorpark High fires a shot during practice. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

One of the joys of playing for Moorpark is that several teammates have been his friends for years. In their senior year of high school, the neighborhood boys are trying to win a Section 2 South Division championship. Junior Jerry Ramos has proven to be a strong offensive contributor, scoring 14 goals.

“It’s pretty awesome to play with them,” said Conyers.

One of his teammates, Scott Corbin, starts a run for him for the promotion major. He also gets all A’s on his ballots. Moorpark has eight players with a GPA of 4.0 or better.

Conyers plans to study computer science at UC Irvine, possibly to become a software engineer. This semester he is studying Advanced Investment Statistics, AP Macro Economics, AP Computer Science Principles and AP Government.

It’s clear Conyers has no plans to give up kicking a soccer ball in his bedroom, on the pitch, or against a wall.

“Since I was young I fell in love with the ball on the foot, training and playing with my friends,” he said. “It’s the only sport I really enjoy playing.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.