Getting the Call to Call the Shots


Considering that Marcus Helfman's football future is at tight end, it's surprising to find him listed at quarterback for the Ventura County high school all-star game.

Helfman, from Agoura High, is one of two quarterbacks for the East, which faces the West tonight at 7 at Royal High in the game's 25th edition. The East leads the series, 13-9-2, and has won five of the last six games, including a 33-27 triumph last year.

Moorpark's Chad Willis will start at quarterback for the East because Helfman missed three practices last week while studying for final exams. East Coach Charlie Wegher, Helfman's coach at Agoura, said both quarterbacks will play extensively.

Helfman, 6 feet 6 and 230 pounds, earned a scholarship to California as a tight end, but he might have skipped the all-star game had he been designated to play his regular position.

"Really, the chance to play quarterback is a big reason I'm playing," Helfman said. "I'm excited to get the opportunity because it could be my last time to play quarterback."

Helfman took snaps throughout youth football and during his first two years at Agoura. But when he and classmate Ryan McCann battled for the varsity job as juniors, Helfman lost the duel and became one of McCann's favorite targets.

McCann, 6-4 and 205 pounds, has a scholarship to UCLA and declined to play in the all-star game.

"I just wanted to have these two weeks off to myself," said McCann, who will work on conditioning and play American Legion baseball this summer. "I just didn't feel I had anything to prove."

Wegher said he was frustrated by McCann's decision not to play, but he did not try and change his mind.

"I was very disappointed, but last year I [convinced Agoura running back Shane Sobel] to play and he hurt his knee pretty bad," Wegher said. "After that I vowed not to put pressure on a kid to play in an all-star game."

Last year's all-star game featured such standout quarterbacks as Newbury Park's Chris Czernek, Thousand Oaks' Scott McEwan and St. Bonaventure's Teohua Sanchez.

This year, with many of the region's top quarterbacks not in the senior class, McCann's absence leaves Willis, who led Moorpark to the 1997 Southern Section Division X title, as the best known of an anonymous bunch. The West quarterbacks are Willie Zavala of Santa Paula and Jason Beck of Hueneme.

Helfman played quarterback last season when he took over for an injured McCann and led the Chargers to a 3-1 record, completing 30 of 43 passes for 336 yards.

"It really wasn't too big of a transition because every practice I threw with the receivers and got some [repetitions]," Helfman said. "I was really comfortable with the team and the system."

Willis also has become comfortable with the Agoura system, earning Wegher's praise.

"You can see why [Moorpark was] the champion when you watch Chad," Wegher said. "He's a very strong leader, very intense and he throws a real good ball. Marcus is a little more soft-spoken, but, of course, he's been in this system longer."

All-Star Football

* What: Ventura County all-star football game.

* Where: Royal High in Simi Valley.

* When: 7 p.m.

* Fast Fact: The East leads the series, 13-9-2, and has won five of the last six games.

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