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Karlie Carlson

By Steve Fryer

Photo Credit: Maxx Silao

ANAHEIM – Servite senior Maxx Silao might be a football coach some day. 

He got some early experience as a coach this season, experience he did not want. He became for Servite coach Troy Thomas “my right-hand man.” 

Silao, a defensive end, was unable to practice all spring and summer and did not play in a game until this month because of injuries suffered in a car accident. 

Silao and his father Scott were travelling south in the family truck on the 241 toll road, headed to their home in Mission Viejo on Feb 7 after watching the Super Bowl at a cousin’s home in Corona. Maxx was driving.

He is unsure of how the accident occurred. 

“But I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at the wheel,” Silao said.

The vehicle blasted into a center divider. The impact knocked out Scott and Maxx. When Maxx came to, the door would not open so he climbed through the driver’s side window and walked around the truck to try to pull his father out of the vehicle. 

“Mom said four people helped me but I don’t remember it,” Silao said. 

Silao suffered a shattered ankle and a dislocated lumbar. His father was in a coma for two days and continues his recovery from various injuries.

Silao’s surgically-repaired ankle has a plate and screws in it. His back has a rod, plate and screws. 

Silao was told that playing football this season, his senior season, was unlikely to happen. He still wanted to be part of Servite football though. 

“Coach says everyone has a role on this team,” Silao said. 

Thomas assigned Silao a role: coach the lower-levels defensive linemen, counsel the varsity defensive linemen. 

“He really has been my right-hand man,” Thomas said. “I’m a tough guy to play for. I demand a lot from my players. I need a conduit to the players and Maxx has been that.” 

Silao took his coaching role seriously. 

“Maxx didn’t go easy on the guys, like I don’t,” Thomas said. “And that really helped me because it wasn’t always my voice having to say those things that need to be said. I don’t think that’s an easy thing to do with your peers, especially when you’re in the situation he’s in, not playing. When you’re playing on the field you get a little more ‘street cred’ than when you’re not. He would be relentless, getting this team where he wants it to be.” 

Silao figured sharing his knowledge and experience would benefit the program. 

“I just looked at myself as a coach,” Silao said. “I did as much as I could, especially for the younger guys. I could teach them pass rush moves and reads, how to be able to read the offensive lineman’s eyes to see if they were looking here or there, stuff like that.” 

Meanwhile, Silao’s condition improved. He started lifting weights, increasing his program as the weeks passed. Eventually the cast on his ankle was removed and and then the walking boot became unnecessary, so he began running. 

He would eventually participate in non-contact drills. Contact drills followed that. 

Finally, he was cleared to play. On Nov. 12, Silao played in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 first-round playoff game against Santa Margarita. He had not played for Sevite since his sophomore season – the fall 2020 season did not happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the accident kept him from playing in the Friars’ five spring 2021 games. 

Yes, he was nervous. As he jogged onto the field in the Santa Margarita game the nervousness dissipated quickly. 

“There was so much joy and excitement to be back on the field with these guys,” Silao said. “Just to be able to experience that one more time before I graduate.” 

His teammates’ interactions with him were like it was just another game. 

“They treated me like I never got injured.” Silao said. “I needed that.” 

Actually, though, his teammates were excited for him. 

“It was magical,” said Servite senior linebacker Aden Eckenwiler. “The guys look up to him as a big leader on the team. He’s motivated all of us.” 

Silao was in for about a dozen plays in Servite’s 34-3 win over Santa Margarita and about the same number of plays last week in the 40-21 win over St. John Bosco in the semifinals. 

Look for No. 8 to play against Mater Dei on Friday in the CIF-SS Division 1 championship game at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach. 

Silao wants to continue playing football beyond high school. His plans include community college football before matriculating to a four-year school. 

Beyond that? As Silao has proven already, coaching football sure seems to be a possibility.

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