By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
CV grad Hidalgo earns all-state football honors at Merced JC
Isaiah Hidalgo 2023
Isaiah Hidalgo made a name for himself while starring on the Merced College football team this past fall. He earned all-state honors for his outstanding play as an all-purpose standout. Hidalgo ranked first in kickoff return yardage in California.

Isaiah Hidalgo enjoyed a success-filled final season while starring on the Merced College football team this past fall.

The 2021 Central Valley High School/5-foot-8 170-pound sophomore was rewarded for his outstanding play as an all-purpose standout on Dec. 14.

Hidalgo was named to the 2022 California Community College Football Coaches Association Region II All-State First Team.

“All the hard work put in paid off,” said Hidalgo, who also earned Northern California American Division Golden Coast league honors as a returner. “I’m happy. It’s definitely a huge accomplishment. Honestly, it wasn’t on my list of goals. I just wanted to be successful.”

Hidalgo had a breakout year during his final season with the Blue Devils.

“My preparation changed,” he said. “Knowing it was my last year of JUCO football, I had to turn the switch and ball out the best I possibly could.”

“I worked on my speed and strength during the offseason,” Hidalgo added. “I changed my diet. I went from eating everything and anything to certain foods. Spaghetti. Chicken. Steak. Pasta. Rice. You won’t catch me eating McDonalds. But I do like McDonalds.”

Hidalgo returned kickoffs and punts, started at slot receiver and logged playing time at running back this fall.

He ranked first in the state in kickoff return yards (800) and fourth in yards per return (29.6).

“You see a hole and hit it,” Hidalgo said. “You try to get as many yards as you can. You want to put your team in a good spot to score. You have to be fearless. You have to keep your head on a swivel. The return team is looking to take your head off.”

Hidalgo also ranked fifth in the state in all-purpose yards (1,597) and yards per game (145.2).

He scored 13 touchdowns and totaled 78 points in 11 games.

Hidalgo rushed for 483 yards and eight touchdowns on 50 carries.

He averaged 9.7 yards per attempt.

He grabbed 14 passes for 241 yards and four TDs.

He had one kickoff return touchdown.

Hidalgo totaled 73 yards on six punt returns.

“Everything clicked,” Hidalgo said.

“I surprised myself with how well I did at receiver,” he added.

Hidalgo broke a 42-year-old program record when he broke loose for a 99-yard rushing touchdown in Merced College’s 52-6 win at Gavilan College on Nov. 5.

“I give all credit to my linemen, fullback and receivers,” he said. “The blocking was perfect. I didn’t have to do much.”

Hidalgo helped lead Merced College to an 8-3 record and first-place finish in the Golden Coast League standings (5-1).

The Blue Devils lost 50-32 to Feather River College in the American Conference Bowl Game on Nov. 26 in Quincy.

Hidalgo ran for 17 yards and one touchdown on three carries and had a 31-yard TD reception while suiting up for Merced College for the final time.

He ran for 317 yards and five touchdowns, caught six passes for 48 yards, returned 10 kickoffs for 187 yards and totaled 97 yards on six punt returns freshman year.

“Every day is competitive,” he said while talking about the grind of being a college athlete. “You have to have mental toughness. You have to have heart. You have to battle every day. You have to hold yourself accountable and make sure you make as less mistakes as possible.”

Hidalgo will graduate from Merced College with an A.A. degree this spring.

“It was a great decision for me to come here,” he said. “I’m proud to be a Blue Devil. They welcomed me with open arms.”

Hidalgo will play football at a four-year college next fall.

He’s currently being recruited by a host of schools.

“Football is all I know,” Hidalgo said. “It’s amazing I get to play this game for at least three more years. It’s a blessing. Not many people get this far. It takes a lot of work and sacrifice. I’m setting myself up for life in general.”