Alex Hinojosa was all smiles on Saturday after helping lead the Concordia football team to a convincing 30-7 victory over visiting University of St. Francis (Ill.) in the Cardinals’ home opener.
Let’s face it, Hinojosa has a lot to smile about. He was named Defensive Player of the Week by the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League and the National Christian College Athletic Association two weeks in a row after Concordia defeated Kentucky Wesleyan College and Olivet to open the season.
The junior out of Allen Park came into week three with 15 tackles and three sacks in the first two games and was just as dominating in the win over St. Francis.
He also knows exactly what he wants to do with his life after football and his time at Concordia – following an epiphany moment that makes him light up just to talk about. It only makes sense that everything is adding up for the mathematics major.
So, yeah, plenty to smile about for young, spirited, intelligent, hard-working and likeable Alex Hinojosa.
On Saturday, following the Cardinals’ dominating win Hinojosa was eager to talk Concordia football – past, present and future. Let’s start with the present.
“We came out playing hard and with great energy despite having to wait because of the weather delay,” said Hinojosa, who was all over the field on defense as the Cardinals pitched a shutout until St. Francis scored a late touchdown long after the starters had hit the bench.
“I felt like we kept our energy level up throughout the game which isn’t always easy to do. Our defense played hard. And our offense really stepped up today and I’m really happy and proud with how they played. It wasn’t perfect but we all played hard and to the best of our abilities.”
And what more could you ask for?
Hinojosa sees the defense improving, which is a scary thought for the teams remaining on their schedule.
“We have some things we need to work on but we put in a great effort (Saturday),” he said. “Everyone played the best they could and the hardest they could.”
The 6-2, 240-pound defensive end is in his third year and has been a force on defense ever since stepping on the Concordia campus. He played in all 13 games last year as a sophomore and recorded 45 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. He also had an interception and one fumble recovery.
It was a historic season last year for Concordia football. The Cardinals, ranked No. 6 in the 2018 NAIA Football Coaches’ Top 25 Postseason Poll, finished the year with a 10-3 record including 5-1 in conference play and a NAIA Football Championship Series (NAIA FCS) quarterfinal appearance. Their 10 wins was a school record.
“Last year was really special because of the bond we built during the season as a team,” he said. “In high school you’ve known a lot of your teammates for years because you grew up with most of them. But here you meet many of your teammates the first day of practice so to form such an incredible bond in such a short period was pretty special.
“And so is this year. We still have a great bond and it just gets better every week.”
Hinojosa was a standout high school player at nearby Allen Park. The Jaguars love their football and get great support from the community. It certainly was a special time in his young life.
“There is a lot more independence and responsibility being a Cardinal than being a Jaguar,” he said. “You are on your own a lot more in college than in high school so it’s more on you to push those boundaries and go and grow those relationships with other people.”
His choice of where he wanted to go and play football was an easy one.
“Concordia was my only offer,” he says laughing. “One of the recruiters here goes to my church and my brother went here and played on one of the first Concordia football teams. That had a huge influence on me.”
Another big influence was the Christian atmosphere at Concordia.
Hinojosa is majoring in Mathematics with a minor in Biblical Languages.
“I want to get my math degree and then go to Seminary after I graduate and go into the ministry,” he says. “I started studying math because I first was looking into civil engineering but God works in strange ways and He changed my heart to go into the ministry and spread His word. I’m just so excited that He led me in this direction.”
Excited for the future, playing the game he grew up with and enjoying his time at Concordia University – yes, plenty to smile about if you are Alex Hinojosa.