There are so many good high school quarterbacks in Orange County this season that even Bill Cunerty, Saddleback College quarterback coach and resident passing expert, can’t name them all.
Cunerty, who works with many local quarterbacks as director of the West Coast Summer Passing School and who studies them at games in the fall, can’t recall a year in which there has been such a quantity of returning and potentially talented players.
There always has been quality. During the past seven years, the county has produced some excellent college quarterbacks such as Notre Dame’s Steve Beuerlein (Servite), San Jose State’s Bob Frasco (El Modena), Cincinnati’s Troy Bodine (Melodyland), Princeton’s Doug Butler (Servite) and Kansas’ Frank Seurer (Edison).
But never has Cunerty seen so many outstanding quarterbacks playing in the same season.
“This has got to be right up with all the good years I’ve seen,” he said. “Mater Dei’s Todd Marinovich will be terrific. David St. Clair at Troy is going to be good. There are some young kids, Scott Stark at Capistrano Valley and Bret Johnson at El Toro, who will be good.
“The Fountain Valley guy (Jon Peart) and Edison’s quarterback (Mike Angelovic) will be good. Eric Zeno will do a good job at La Quinta. The guy at Esperanza (Greg Beckman) should have another good year, and I think the El Modena guy (Chris Gallego) will be a good player.”
What about Newport Harbor’s Shane Foley?
“How did I forget him?” an astonished Cunerty asked. “I think he’s going to be great. He’s the best pure thrower in Orange County. He has great technique and he’s a very intelligent guy.”
It is a bigger and better quarterback crop, but Shane Foley won’t get lost in the crowd. He should stand out as the best of the bunch. Among county field generals, he’s the Commander in Chief.
Foley is big (6-feet 2-inches, 195 pounds), he has a strong and accurate arm, he knows how to read defenses, he knows when to throw and when not to throw. When he does release a pass, the ball’s flight is pretty to watch.
As a junior, he completed 117 of 223 passes for 1,795 yards and 14 touchdowns during the regular season, in which the Sailors finished 8-0-2. He added about 500 yards passing in two postseason games, as Newport Harbor eventually lost to Sunny Hills in the second round of the Central Conference playoffs.
Already, the colleges are swooning over Foley. UCLA’s Terry Donahue and USC’s Ted Tollner appeared at spring practice. Stanford’s Jack Elway also took a look as well as recruiters from Notre Dame and Ohio State.
“I assume he’ll be heavily recruited,” said Mike Giddings, Newport Harbor coach.
Giddings knows how to ascertain talent--it’s his job. For 10 years he has run Pro Scout Inc., a service that analyzes and appraises all NFL football players from game films and issues reports on them to nine NFL teams, which are his clients.
Giddings knows he has the county’s finest passer, and he plans to utilize Foley’s talents, accordingly.
“The ball could be up there 50 times a game,” he said.
That suits Foley just fine. He spent the early part of the 1984 season handing off to fullback Fritz Howser. He attempted about 10 passes per game. Then, against Saddleback in the sixth week, he erupted for a 300-yard game.
More and more, Giddings opened his offense and emphasized the pass over the run. This season, with an inexperienced offensive line, the pass will dominate.
“It should be fun to see how we develop as a throwing team and not a running team,” Foley said. “I’m looking forward to throwing the ball more.”
The Sailors should play an exciting brand of football this year, the kind that attracted Foley to Newport Harbor two years ago. He had attended Palm Springs High as a freshman but decided to leave his mother and stepfather to move in with his grandparents in Newport Beach so that he could attend Newport Harbor as a sophomore.
Because his parents didn’t change residence, Foley was not eligible to play varsity football as a sophomore at Newport, even though he was probably good enough. Instead, he passed for about 1,500 yards and 25 touchdowns to lead the sophomore team to an 8-2 record. By his junior year, the varsity job was his.
“I think I could have played varsity as a sophomore, but why dwell on it?” Foley said. “I was ineligible. I just remained thankful that my mother and stepfather and my grandparents made the sacrifices for me to come here. I really appreciate it.
“Orange County is a more competitive area, and I thought I’d have more opportunities here.”
Marinovich got an opportunity to start as a freshman at Mater Dei last season and made the most of it, passing for 2,019 yards and 14 touchdowns. He returns for his sophomore season 25 pounds heavier, and he should be even better. Beckman is back for his senior year at Esperanza after passing for 2,159 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior.
Foley, Marinovich and Beckman stand out as Orange County’s best three quarterbacks. The best running backs should be Valencia’s Ray Pallares, who is gaining on the Orange County all-time rushing record, and La Habra’s Chuck Weatherspoon, who begins his third season as a starter.
The best linemen are Fountain Valley’s Lance Zeno, who was among USA Today’s Top 25 Players in the country, and El Modena’s Don Gibson, a three-year starter who has helped the Vanguards to the past two Southern Conference championships. Both Zeno and Gibson are two-way starters who play offensive and defensive tackle.
Here’s a look at Orange County’s best high school players:
Liale Afualo (Santa Ana) 6-0, 240, OG/DT: The senior is the strongest member of an improved offensive line that should be able to provide Saint quarterback Eric Turner with all the protection he needs and help Santa Ana develop a solid running attack, too. Afualo is very quick for his size.
Alex Baker (San Clemente) 5-10, 165, QB: The senior played in just half of the Tritons’ games last year and was tied for the Southern Section lead in touchdown passes with 11 when he broke his right wrist in a nonleague game against Mount Miguel of San Diego. “When he went down, there went our offense,” Coach Allie Schaff said.
Ross Bauer (El Modena) 5-9, 165, RB/LB: A junior with a 4.0 grade-point average, Bauer is the Vanguards’ best athlete. In addition to starting at running back and linebacker, he’ll be the backup quarterback this year. “We have him doing everything,” Coach Bob Lester said. Bauer finished last season with about 900 yards rushing.
Greg Beckman (Esperanza) 6-1, 185, QB: Beckman led the county in passing yardage and completion rate as a junior last season, hitting on 72% of his passes for 2,159 yards and 18 touchdowns. Esperanza has usually been a run-oriented team, but Coach Pete Yoder is predicting more passing this season.
David Berkeley (Capistrano Valley) 6-4, 221, DE/OG: Berkeley played outside linebacker last year but will move to the line this season, and still maintain his position on offense. Coach Dick Enright thinks he’s a major-college prospect. “I wouldn’t trade David for any other lineman in our league,” he said.
Jason Brusuelas (Pacifica) 6-1, 245, DT: An All-Empire League selection as a junior, Brusuelas has added about 10 pounds to his already large frame. He’ll team with Robert Joubert to give the Mariners an outstanding defensive line.
Nathan Call (Capistrano Valley) 6-1, 175, WR: Call, a three-sport star in football, basketball and baseball, passed for more than 1,500 yards as the Cougar quarterback last season but should be as valuable to the offense at wide receiver while making room for new quarterback Scott Stark. He has excellent hands and will double as a defensive back.
Glenn Campbell (Saddleback) 6-0, 195, FB: With tailback Earl Jones graduated, Campbell will carry the bulk of the offensive load for the Roadrunners. He is a strong, power runner who will be tough to stop inside, but he also is quick enough to gain yardage outside.
Billy Craft (Marina) 6-0, 190, DB: The strong safety, who also plays fullback in goal-line situations, ranked second in Orange County with eight interceptions last year, one behind leader Todd Prukop, of Servite. He is one of three returning defensive backs in a secondary that should be one of the county’s best.
Robert Entrican (Esperanza) 6-1, 248, OG: The senior made his reputation as a defensive tackle for the Aztecs last season, but he’ll move to offensive guard this year. In his new position, he’ll replace Esperanza’s all-county selection from last year, Don Miller, now on scholarship at University of Nevada Las Vegas.
John Fischbeck (Foothill) 6-0, 185, RB: Fischbeck became a full-time starter last year when Stacy Parker injured his knee two days prior to the season. As a sophomore, he was the Knights’ leading rusher with 841 yards on 127 carries during the regular season. He enters his junior season 15 pounds heavier and stronger. “He doesn’t have blinding speed, but he’s very quick,” Coach Ted Mullen said. “If there’s a crack or an opening, he’ll find it.”
Joel Garten (Valencia) 6-3, 235, OG: A two-year starter at offensive tackle, Garten will move to guard this year to make room for 6-5, 250-pound tackle Mark Williams, a transfer from Esperanza. Garten, an excellent drive blocker with the speed to pull and lead on outside running plays, will be stationed on the right side of the line next to 6-1, 235-pound tackle Xavier Hicks.
Don Gibson (El Modena) 6-3, 255, OT/DT: Gibson, younger brother of University of Arizona defensive end Boomer Gibson, begins his third year as a two-way starter for the Vanguards. He is a major-college prospect who is being recruited by schools such as Nebraska, USC and UCLA. “He could go to any school he wants,” Lester said.
Ken Griggs (Edison) 6-4, 220, TE: The senior is the latest in a long line of outstanding Charger tight ends, which includes Rob Phenicie (Nebraska), Rick DiBernardo (Notre Dame), Brett Blanchard (San Diego State), Mark Boyer (USC and Indianapolis Colts) and Vic Rakhshani (USC). Griggs has good speed, excellent hands and has a knack for making acrobatic catches.
Bill Hardesty (Pacifica) 6-1, 190, LB: One of Pacifica’s most versatile players, Hardesty was an all-league first-team selection as a sophomore safety and a second-team selection as a junior after missing four games because of a hip injury. He will shift to outside linebacker this year and also play fullback.
Robert Joubert (Pacifica) 6-2, 230, DT: Like his teammate and fellow defensive tackle, Brusuelas, Joubert also gained about 10 pounds of muscle, thanks to an off-season weight-training program. He was an All-Empire League selection last year, but he should be even stronger for his senior season.
Rick Justice (Edison) 5-9, 170, WR: As a junior, Justice had 44 receptions for 902 yards (an average of 20.5 yards per catch) and 9 touchdowns, making him the county’s top returning receiver. He also will start at cornerback for the Chargers.
Todd Marinovich (Mater Dei) 6-3, 190, QB: The left-hander threw for 2,019 yards and 14 touchdowns last year but also threw 17 interceptions while becoming accustomed to the Monarch’s sophisticated passing offense. The year of experience and an added 25 pounds should make him a better quarterback this season.
Ray Pallares (Valencia) 5-11, 188, FB: The senior, who has ran for 3,312 yards in two years, ranks fifth on the all-time Orange County rushing list and needs 853 yards to surpass leader Myron White, who rushed for 4,164 yards at Santa Ana Valley from 1972 to 1974. Pallares is a punishing runner who will be complemented in the Tiger backfield by speedster Tony Goulet.
Tom Quinn (Foothill) 6-2, 225, LB: A three-year starter, Quinn will combine with Barry Walshe this season to give the Knights the strongest duo of inside linebackers in the county. Mullen calls Quinn a “very physically solid, rugged individual,” but the senior also is intelligent enough to call all of the defensive plays and skilled enough to play some tight end this year.
Robert Rangel (Valencia) 6-0, 205, LB: A three-year starter and a first-team, all-Orange League selection last year, Rangel will call defensive signals for the Tigers this season. He’s the most physical player on the defense and will team with Andy Ruscitto to give Valencia an excellent pair of linebackers.
Bart Recktenwald (La Quinta) 6-0, 180, DB: Recktenwald played quarterback and defensive back last season, but with Eric Zeno transferring from Fountain Valley to become the Aztecs’ quarterback, he’ll concentrate on defense, where he is best. He’ll also play running back this year.
Terry Reichert (Fountain Valley) 5-10, 210, FB: An excellent blocker with good speed, Reichert opened many holes last year for all-county tailback Dave Swigart, who had more than 1,300 yards rushing. He’ll double as linebacker this year but will carry the bulk of the offensive load early this season with tailback Tom Vrab missing about five games with a knee injury.
Mike Rosellini (Estancia) 6-2, 180, QB: The Eagles were a 4-5-1 team last season, but Rosellini was still able to pass for more than 1,200 yards. The senior’s main target this year should be Eric Dorn, a 6-4 flanker who also is an excellent hurdler in track.
David St. Clair (Troy) 6-0, 180, QB: An All-Freeway League selection as a junior last year, St. Clair completed 76 of 153 passes for 1,086 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s a strong runner as well as a passer, and he’ll also double as a safety this year.
Scott Spalding (El Toro) 6-5, 235, DT/OT: Though only a junior, Charger Coach Bob Johnson calls Spalding “a can’t-miss major-college prospect.” He started as a sophomore and earned honorable mention all-league honors. His father, Marty, is the team’s offensive and defensive line coach.
Scott Stark (Capistrano Valley), 6-3, 185, QB: The senior was the starting quarterback as a sophomore at Chaffey High before transferring to Capistrano Valley last fall, but he arrived too late to learn the Cougars’ offense. Stark, who will start on the school’s basketball team, is tall and mobile with a very quick release. He also has a 3.9 grade-point average.
Ted Valmassei (Servite) 6-0, 215, LB: As a junior, Valmassei led the Friars with 124 tackles in 1984. “His presence makes him a leader on the field,” Coach Leo Hand said. “He’s extremely intelligent, strong, has good quickness and adequate speed.” Ted’s younger brother, Brett, also will start at linebacker for Servite.
Chuck Weatherspoon (La Habra) 5-8, 190, RB: The powerful senior ranked fifth among Orange County rushers last season, gaining 1,160 yards on 160 carries and scoring 12 touchdowns for the Highlanders. “He’s the best back in North Orange County,” Sunny Hills Coach Tim Devaney said. “He’s a championship-type player who will make the difference for that team.”
Chris Wright (Loara) 5-11, 180, RB: Few knew of Wright’s talents prior to last season, but it took only a few games for him the become a known quantity. As a junior, he scored 11 touchdowns and averaged 7 yards a carry for a total of 881 yards. Wright, a Southern Section wrestling champion, also is one of the Saxons’ toughest defenders at linebacker.
Todd Yert (Mission Viejo) 6-1, 212, FB: A punishing runner and blocker, Yert, a senior, also is an excellent pass receiver who gives the Diablos an added offensive dimension. He scored 13 touchdowns as a junior and caught 25 passes for 282 yards.
Eric Zeno (La Quinta) 6-4, 200, QB: Zeno completed 73 of 148 passes for 1,020 yards and 8 touchdowns as a junior at Fountain Valley, but decided to transfer to La Quinta this year. Zeno had lost his quarterback job to Jon Peart late last season. He’ll be a welcome addition to an Aztec offense that outscored its league opponents, 171-14, last season.
Lance Zeno (Fountain Valley) 6-5, 255, OT/DT: The brother of Eric Zeno, Lance was the only junior selected to the The Times’ All-Orange County first team in 1984. He is equally adept at rushing the passer or protecting the passer, but most college coaches believe his future will be on the offensive line because he is so agile.
The Super 10 Greg Beckman (Esperanza) QB Billy Craft (Marina) DB Shane Foley (Newport Har.) QB Don Gibson (El Modena) OT/DT Ken Griggs (Edison) TE Bill Hardesty (Pacifica) FB/LB Ray Pallares (Valencia) FB Tom Quinn (Foothill) LB C. Weatherspoon (LH) FB/DB Lance Zeno (F. Valley) OT/DT