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Erik BoalAfter the dust settled Dec. 13...

Erik Boal

After the dust settled Dec. 13 on South Pasadena High’s Roosevelt

Field, and the celebration -- or at least the initial part of it --

had concluded for the Flintridge Prep faithful, a member of the

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Rebel football team emerged from the locker room wearing an oversized

sweatshirt and baggy jeans.

By talking with T.C. Scotton, you wouldn’t have known that only 45

minutes before, he had just put the finishing touches on one of the

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great performances in his two-year varsity career, in one of the

biggest games in the program’s 57-year history.

By hearing the soft-spoken 18-year-old talk, the tone in his voice

didn’t reflect an athlete who had just won a CIF Southern Section

championship, especially against the team’s primary rival, Pasadena

Poly.

And by looking at the 5-foot-11, 170-pound tailback, you wouldn’t

have known that his body had just absorbed the punishment of carrying

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the ball 31 times against one of the most physically imposing

defensive units in Division XIII, resulting in 176 hard-fought yards.

And Scotton wouldn’t have had it any other way, because just like

the other 12 games he competed in during the Rebels’ magical season,

he let his performance on the field do all his talking for him.

Scotton ran past, around and over the competition en route to an

area-best 1,619 yards in 248 attempts, but it was the manner in which

he did it -- humble, consistent and business-like -- that impressed

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his coaches and teammates the most.

“You can’t match this,” said Flintridge Prep assistant Tom Fry,

pointing to Scotton’s heart as he put his arm around him in a

congratulatory gesture following the Rebels’ 17-10 win, resulting in

the program’s first 11-Man title following an Eight-Man crown in

1989.

“This is what it’s all about right here.”

And that, in addition to the aforementioned characteristics, are

what impressed the writers and editors of the News-Press and Burbank

Leader the most about Scotton.

He wasn’t the biggest player at his position, nor the fastest.

Other tailbacks might have played at bigger schools, or in tougher

divisions. But when it came time to determine the All-Area Player of

the Year, nobody else could match up with Scotton.

“He’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever seen play the game,”

said Flintridge Prep senior quarterback Greg Sherman, one of nine

Rebels selected to the All-Area roster.

“It’s fun to watch him, just as a fan of football.”

Said Rebel Coach Marty Konrad, who led Flintridge Prep to a 12-1

record: “His desire, courage and dedication are what really set him

apart.”

Added Scotton, who recorded a single-season program record 27

touchdowns: “I think [my heart] was a big part of it. A lot of times

in the huddle, Greg would point at his heart and say ‘This is where

it comes from,’ and that really inspired us.”

*

When Scotton took the field for his long-awaited rematch with

Pasadena Poly, it only took one carry to recognize how inspired and

motivated he was to erase the frustrating memories of a 14-attempt,

27-yard performance in a 28-14 loss to the Panthers on Oct. 25.

“I was getting ready for that game for a long time,” said Scotton,

who demonstrated some rarely seen emotion following runs of 18 and 10

yards on the Rebels’ opening drive.

“The first time we played, they shut me down, and, as a result, we

couldn’t get much done on offense. Second chances don’t come much in

life, and I felt that in order for us to win the championship game, I

would have to be on.”

And was he ever, amassing 155 yards and a touchdown in 18

first-half carries, increasing his area lead to 164 points.

“During the pregame, I kind of felt that he was ready for a big

[performance],” said Sherman, who complemented Scotton by passing for

a school-record 1,585 yards and 16 touchdowns.

“With T.C., you can kind of tell if it’s going to be one of those

games. He had been doing it the whole playoffs, and the fact that

[he] did it [against] Poly, it was that much sweeter.

“No offense [had] really been able to punish Poly on a consistent

basis like we did, and it couldn’t have ended any better than that.”

Said Scotton, who had eight games of more than 100 yards -- giving

him 13 for his career -- including a career-high 216 against eventual

Division XII champion Village Christian in a 20-7 nonleague win Oct.

11: “A lot of people were thinking Poly’s run defense would shut us

down, and they were probably under- estimating us, but Coach Konrad

kept telling me to make one cut and keep going, and that’s what I

focused on.”

Added Konrad: “How many times did we have [a chance] to redeem

ourselves for our poor past performances? I know I’ve said it

before, but this season was all about redemption, and they all

bought into it.”

*

In order to build upon a 1,031-yard, nine-touchdown campaign as a

junior, Scotton bought into a rigorous weight-training program during

the offseason, which helped him become a more durable tailback, as

evidenced by his 101 carries in four playoff contests.

“It’s a credit to him because he pushes himself. I’ve never seen

a guy his size so dedicated,” said Konrad, whose squad became the

first local 11-Man team to win a CIF crown since La Canada captured

the Northwestern Conference title in 1979.

“Even when he was tired or hurting a little bit, he never asked to

come out. He’s just a dedicated kid, and his parents did a great job

of raising him that way.”

Along with raising his own level of play, Scotton also relied on

the efforts of a veteran offensive line to earn All-Prep League

first-team honors, and move into second on the program’s

single-season and career rushing list, trailing only Omar Dittu

(1,856 and 3,823).

“Just knowing the schemes played a big part in it,” said Scotton,

who scored in 11 games, including two-or-more touchdowns in nine of

them.

“They started to learn what my tendencies are and I learned what

their tendencies were, and that was beneficial. They get a lot of

credit [for my success].”

Said Sherman, who earned second-team all-league honors: “Since the

beginning of our junior year, it’s been a gradual learning process

for both of us.

“This year, every team set up a scheme designed to stop T.C., but

he was still able to gain positive yardage almost every time. A big

reason for [his success and ours as a team] was those guys on the

offensive line. I didn’t even get touched in that championship game.”

*

Scotton knew he would absorb plenty of jarring hits in the final,

but that was nothing new for the Rebels’ lone returning All-CIF

selection, who served as the focal point of opposing defenses all

year long.

“I take it as a compliment,” said Scotton, who opened the season

with a career-high four touchdowns in a 40-14 win against San Juan

Capistrano St. Margaret’s, and duplicated the feat in Flintridge

Prep’s 27-14 playoff quarterfinal win against North Hollywood

Campbell Hall.

“When I think about [coaches] going into the video room to break

down film, and they want to try to stop me, it just motivates me to

do better.”

And even in the five games when he carried the ball more than 20

times, Scotton didn’t let fatigue slow him down, as he combined for

11 touchdowns in those contests.

“It’s really all a mental battle,” said Scotton, who only had

20-or-more carries in three games in 2002.

“Even when I was really tired, I just tried to keep a positive

[mental attitude]. I knew that all I have to do is get in the end

zone, and then I can rest.

“But being in those games helped me condition the most.”

And even after the rigors of 12 physically demanding contests,

Scotton was in mint condition for the final, and ran as efficiently

and fluidly as ever against a Panther defense that posted five

shutouts on the year.

“As far as pure running backs, he’s the best I’ve had in my three

years, most definitely,” said Konrad, whose squad averaged 34.6

points per game, with Scotton accounting for 36.4% of the team’s

scoring.

“His greatest asset was being able to get positive yards. The way

he reads blocks and makes cuts, you may not see another one like him

for some time.”

Said Scotton, who lists University of Pennsylvania and Columbia

University as his top two choices to continue playing next year: “I

just want to be remembered for my work ethic, my leadership by

example and the fact that I wouldn’t give up.”

Konrad isn’t ready to give up on Scotton’s list of accolades just

yet, as he hopes his standout will be selected as the division’s

offensive player of the year at the All-CIF meeting in early January.

“Everything he gets this year, he deserves,” Konrad said.

“There’s not enough good things you can say about him.”

Especially because Scotton would rather do all of his talking on

the field.


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