HS Football: Val Montoya & Theo Gearring are this Years Eric McMillan Legacy Award Winners

The Award is Presented to a Student Athlete from each School that Exemplifies the Standards and Qualities that Eric McMillan Set

Eric McMillan

The annual football Game between Murrieta Valley High School and Vista Murrieta High School is dedicated to the memory of Nighthawk alumnus, Eric McMillan.

Every year, the two high schools award the Eric McMillan Legacy Award to the student athlete that exemplifies the standards and qualities that Eric set and represented in his short life.

The plaque reads: “A positive example of team leadership, scholarship and community service in the memory of Eric McMillan.” The award also comes with a cash scholarship.

This years recipients of the award are Val Montoya from Murrieta Valley and Theo Gearring from Vista Murrieta.

Val Montoya & Family

“Val exemplifies the Eric McMillan trophy not only on the field but off as well. On the field he’s a stern leader who is like another coach out there, this making it easier for us as a staff to build around him” said Murrieta Valley Coach Sean Cue.

“Off the field, he’s a great friend and son. If there were ever a kid who deserves this award, it’s Val. He’s not the flashiest or loudest kid, but he works his butt off in everything he does and we love him for that”.

“Theo is an exceptional young man who epitomizes the pillars of CLASS at VMHS” said Vista Murrieta Head Coach Eric Peterson.


Theo Gearring & Mother

“His work ethic, competitive drive, and care for others have been the cement of interest for our football team and school this year. Theo is involved in not only football, but leadership on the VMHS campus. His Attitude with a capital A is a harbinger of his continued success in all they attempts in his life. We are extremely proud to recognize Theo for this award”.

“I want to thank my teammates and the coaching staff at Vista Murrieta High School because they stayed with me through my injuries and had my back” Theo remarked. “Nothing is possible without God and I want to shout out to my mother for everything…she’s my inspiration. Thank you!”

Eric graduated in 2003 from Murrieta Valley High School,where he was an exceptional football player and leader. He then played cornerback at the University of Idaho, starting as a freshman.

In 2004, Eric was tragically killed by two gunmen after a University of Idaho football game. This event is one way to keep his spirit alive. Eric was an outstanding representative of the Murrieta family in athletics, academics, and in the community. Eric was always going out of his way to make friends and inspire teammates.

Along with Murrieta Valley and Vista Murrieta, the University of Idaho has also since given out an Eric McMillan Memorial award each year in his honor.

Photos by Cathryn McKee