Cody Going has been in Mission Viejo high school’s football program, a team ranked number four in California by MaxPreps, for five long years. From his time in eighth grade to now he’s been able to see the athletes at Mission Viejo High grow from teammates to a family.
Prior to football, Going was involved in swimming for six years but “most of [his] friends started switching to [football] at the start of middle school, and so [he started] to feel a bit left out, so [he] was like ‘you know what, I might as well try it out and see if I like it’” and Going ended up falling in love with the sport.
During his time at high school, Going has maintained taking challenging classes while starting on the team, “of course I’m going to have to sacrifice a lot of my free time after school, being at practice, and on Friday nights, at games, but then the sacrifice also comes when I get home [from all that] and have to do all of the honors work…[but] I love classes, I love the rigor of them [and] couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. But while I’m in season it is really hard to balance the two.”
On the field, Going is number 76, an offensive lineman (specifically guard or defensive tackle), one of the people that defend the quarterback and clear the way for the running backs. These are the unsung heroes of offensive football, often only seen when they blunder, when I asked Going how he feels about filling that role and handling the pressure of that he responded, “[Head] Coach Johnson does a great job of recognizing us and appreciating what we do… I know how important not only myself but how important the other four offensive linemen are, [our offensive success] comes down to what we’re doing”
“[As for the pressure,] you get used to it the more you play, I started my sophomore year (Covid Season), when we were missing a lot of guys, and so I ended up starting, and was really nervous my first game, I threw up out of nervousness, but as time went on my nervousness faded away and a switch just clicks that’s like ‘it’s time for me to do my job.’”
With our school being one of the top public schools for football in the nation, the athletes are put under extremely high expectations, but Going never felt extremely affected by this. “Thankfully our coaches have been here a long time and know how to get into your mind that you’re at an elite program, you have to practice and play like that. You really don’t think about the pressure too much when you’re practicing and playing; it is just another day for you. That is until you get to the playoffs. That’s when the expectations come back because we’re a public school; we’re always going to be looked down upon versus private schools.”
This year the Diablos were able to show the private schools that they could hold their own, making it to the CIF-Southern Section semi-finals, the main reason Going thinks that the team was able to do that was because “we were able to shut out the noise… you kept seeing that Centennial High was going to blow out Mission like last year, but losing that last year was also a really big motivator for us. But in the end it came down to us focusing on our assignments, doing our jobs, and the coaches just treating it like every other week. The Long Beach Poly loss the week prior was also a big wakeup call; our mindset changed from us thinking we were unbeatable to ‘oh, we can lose to anyone, even if we were predicted to win.’”
“In the end though, Coach Johnson and Coach Peyton set us up for some great plays and without Johnson’s leadership I really don’t know if we would have one that [Centennial] Game, especially with his experience at Bosco (the #1 football team in California) in the playoffs.”
Although they weren’t able to make it to finals, Going’s senior year was a really great finish to his high school career, the entire playoffs felt like a high to him, and the season prior contained one of an alltime highlight of his time in football. “[Getting ready for] the Servite Game I was coming off from injury and I missed the entirety of summer ball, but I and the team ended up playing great, and with it being the first home game the sounds of the crowd was like a high, you come out of the banner, and you hear the crowd cheering, and there’s nothing like that.”
His advice for the incoming athletes is “try to have a matter of perspective, one of the toughest parts of football isn’t the physical part but the mental and emotional part, you have those feelings of ‘am I good enough?’ but the more you think of that the more it will affect your game…for anyone that is looking to be in a position similar to mine: remember who you are playing for, remember you’re playing for your teammates and your program. A big problem of high school football is only looking out for themself and trying to look the best so they can brag, just remember who you’re playing for. Do your 1/11th and the rest will come.”
Going is committed to University of San Diego after receiving a Division 1 offer to play there, but that’s not the only reason he wanted to go there, “I’m a big academic guy…I want to set myself up for the greatest chance of success, and USD ticks all of the boxes for that: great program for my major, great location, and I have family down there.”
As for playing in college ball, Going feels pretty prepared. “ I think Mission has prepared me very well. Coach Johnson brings in a lot of things from college ball and brings them back to our high school to prepare those that are looking to play college ball in terms of conditioning and practice… I’m looking forward to [college ball] though. I am not going to be the big man on campus anymore, I’m going to have a lot to prove, which is going to be a great motivator… But like any incoming college student I have to be ready to adjust, which is going to be a challenge but I am looking forward to it.”
Going has loved his time at Mission and has mixed feelings about his next chapter in life. “When we lost that Bosco game and that feeling set in that it’s all over, it was really hard to cope. A lot of seniors told us ‘it goes by faster than you think.’ But it really does go faster than you think. But it’s a good thing I’m sad about it, because that means I really cared about it.”