Nathan Alvis sees himself as a quarterback that might surprise some at Costa Mesa High.
In the locker room before a recent football practice, teammates teased Alvis. They called Alvis, "Michael Vick," before he headed off to the field.
Alvis throws left-handed and wears No. 7 like Vick, the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. Coach Jeremy Osso says Alvis is less like Vick, more like Steve Young.
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Alvis believes he has seen highlights of the former San Francisco 49er great.
"He doesn't know who Steve Young is," Osso said with a grin.
Alvis was barely walking when Young threw a Super Bowl record six touchdown passes in San Francisco's 49-26 victory against the San Diego Chargers on Jan. 29, 1995.
The NFL quarterback Alvis sees similarities in is not like Young or Vick when it comes to hurting teams throwing and running the ball.
Alvis got his first taste of victory last week as the starting quarterback at Costa Mesa. The junior had more than a hand in helping the Mustangs' end a 0-4 start to the season.
Alvis won like Brees, but he turned in a Young- and Vick-like performance against La Quinta. He threw a career-high four touchdown passes and ran for a career-high two touchdowns, recording more than 100 yards through the air and on the ground in Costa Mesa's 53-17 nonleague victory.
"We all realized that we couldn't go 0-5," said Alvis, who made sure the Mustangs avoided their second 0-5 start in three years. "It was a must-win for us."
Alvis feels the same about the Mustangs' next five-game stretch, which begins on Oct. 14 against Godinez. He believes the Orange Coast League is theirs to win.
Alvis said the start to this season is similar to the one Costa Mesa took the last time it claimed the league crown in 2008. Alvis was not on varsity back then when the Mustangs began with five losses, losing by an average of 33.2 points per game.
The games this season have been more competitive for the most part. Two of the losses have been by a combined six points, coming in back-to-back weeks.
Alvis has been a difference-maker in the offense's progress. For a first-year starter, he makes few mistakes, throwing only two interceptions to eight touchdowns.
"With junior quarterbacks, we tend to go a little slower than we do with senior quarterbacks on how much offense we get [into]," Osso said. "As far as offensive capacity, he's farther along than [last year' starter] Todd [Davis] was as a junior. He studies [the offense] really well and he learns from his mistakes."
Alvis went through his growing pains in the summer.
The jump to varsity from junior varsity took time to adjust. He lost his quarterback coach in Bill Lux, who Osso said broke his tailbone and could not heal quick enough to return to the team.
Without Lux reminding him to follow through on his passes and making the proper reads, Alvis went to the same receiver every time.
"I was just throwing it to the favorite one," said Alvis, adding that it was usually Jordan Walden, a junior, who came up with Alvis in the Mustangs' program. "Freshman and JV, that's what I did. We've had a real tight connection since freshman year."
Osso said Alvis has learned to find the open receiver.
Alvis hooked up with Walden five times last week for 34 yards and a touchdown, but he connected with three other receivers, two of which also scored touchdowns.
Alvis completed touchdown passes to juniors Trace Curet and Jake Comer, and finished 11-of-17 passing for 121 yards and no interceptions.
The more impressive touchdowns turned in by Alvis were on the run. He scored from 38 and 27 yards out, and finished with 113 yards on 10 carries.
"Obviously my line is making huge holes for me," said Alvis, crediting left tackle Andrew Albers, left guard Oscar Reyes, center Kyle Haberman, right tackle Christian Contreras and right tackle Charles Mankin for allowing him to top 100 yards on the ground for the second time this year. "I had room to run all day."