Although the season-opening game for Capistrano Valley High School wasn’t played until Friday night, the game itself was actually won during June, July and August.
This is because Capistrano Valley quarterback Scott Stark took it upon himself to devote the entire summer to playing in passing leagues, thus perfecting the art of the three-step drop and throw.
Stark proved to be a quick study in both the three-step drop and general passing efficiency against Foothill in Friday night’s opener. By the time he was through, Stark managed to exhaust 11 Knight defenders, the Capistrano Valley statistics crew and the gang that runs the chains on the sideline at Northrup Field.
Completing a remarkable 26 of 34 passes for 337 yards and 4 touchdowns, Stark led the Cougars to a surprising 26-7 upset of the Knights in a game that the visitors controlled from start to finish.
That works out to a 76% completion percentage--exceptional both because usually anything better than 50% in high school is yeoman’s work and because it was the first game of the season.
At game’s end, the Foothill coaching staff stood in line to shake Stark’s hand and mumble superlatives to a player who’d single-handedly humbled the proud defense of the defending Century League champs.
Although impressed by both the final score and his passing totals, Stark smiled as if he knew he was capable of such a performance all along, allowing that his rigorous summer training schedule had prepared him well for this evening.
“We’ve all been practicing hard all summer,” Stark said without hardly drawing an extra breath following the game. “We had 17 passing league games coming in. Look at our receivers-- we think they’re the best in the county.”
Let’s look at the Capistrano Valley receivers:
--Nathan Call, the Cougars’ quarterback of a year ago who is right at home at flanker, caught 11 passes for 143 yards. Two of those were for touchdowns, a 6-yard catch in the first quarter and a 7-yard grab in the second, staking the Cougars to a 12-0 lead at the half.
“Nathan’s one of the greatest athletes I’ve ever coached,” Capistrano Valley Coach Dick Enright said. “He’s one tough hombre. He’s got a linebacker’s disposition, too--he’ll tear your head off.”
Call also has what coaches call “soft hands” as well as an uncanny knack for finding the quarterback when the quarterback has to scramble out of the pocket, perhaps owing that to his days as the Cougar signal caller.
Several times, Call broke his pattern when Stark was in trouble, ran back to an open area where Stark could find him for the completion. Despite playing reasonable pass defense, Foothill just couldn’t stop such broken plays.
--Todd Beightol, the Cougars’ senior wide receiver, caught 10 passes for 122 yards. Beightol runs more disciplined patterns than Call and was often Stark’s target on the longer patterns.
Beightol caught Stark’s last two touchdown passes, going for 18 and 13 yards in the fourth quarter to increase the Cougar lead to 26-0.
Capistrano Valley gave up a touchdown on a quarterback sneak by Chris Fergus on the last play of the game, but in all fairness to the Cougar defense, the Knights only managed to get to the one-yard line courtesy of some generous officiating (two major penalties) on their last, gratuitous drive of the game.
Despite the Capistrano Valley defense holding Foothill all but scoreless, the evening nevertheless belonged to Stark, the senior transfer from Chaffey High School.
“He’s got the quick release of a pro,” Enright claimed, and the Foothill defense won’t argue with that, considering they blitzed him all night and still got burned by his quick tosses virtually every time.
Stark did admit to one surprise, though.
“We knew we were going to throw a lot coming in,” he said, “but I didn’t think it would be quite like this.”
For that matter, neither did Foothill.