This is the second of six consecutive player profiles on football players from area teams leading up to the annual “Football Forecast.”
A season ago, he was an All-Mission League and All-Area standout at defensive back and receiver.
But Austin Heyworth is a quarterback, it’s as simple as that.
“I just always saw myself as a quarterback,” the 6-foot-4, 205-pound St. Francis High senior says.
And most others see him as one, as well.
“He just has that look to him,” St. Francis senior receiver Kevin Garcia says. “If I just saw him in a crowd, if I didn’t know him, I’d still think, ‘This guy is a quarterback.’”
It’s the tall frame, the tightly cropped blonde hair. But it’s also in the way Heyworth carries himself.
“He’s definitely got that look of a quarterback,” senior lineman Dan Scheper says. “I’m not saying he’s a pretty boy, he’s just got that natural charisma.”
Adds Golden Knights Coach Jim Bonds: “He does have an All-American look to him — after getting to know him, he is that type of kid, too.”
That’s all fine and good, but Heyworth realizes he has just one season to prove he can do more than look the part.
“I worked for three years to get here — I finally got my chance,” he says. “I’m looking to show what I can do.”
Since fifth grade, Austin Heyworth has played football. And since fifth grade, Heyworth has played quarterback.
His father played quarterback in high school and Heyworth intended on doing just the same.
As a freshman, he was the Golden Knights starting signal-caller, just like he was as a sophomore.
Then came varsity.
But in front of him was Luke Collis — an All-Area standout and fearless leader headed to Nevada to play college ball. There really wasn’t any option other than for Heyworth to do what was best for the team.
“It was really tough,” he admits of sitting behind Collis.
But he started on both sides of the ball, learned more about being a quarterback from playing receiver and learned under the tutelage of Collis.
It made for a smooth transition from last year to this.
“With Luke leaving, it feels like we didn’t even miss a step,” senior running back Kyle Morgan says. “The team loves [Heyworth], he’s a great leader.”
Morgan, Scheper, Garcia and Heyworth are the four St. Francis team captains — the Golden Knights as they’re traditionally known.
For Heyworth to be a leader, though, it’s almost a necessity considering the position.
Fortunately, nobody needed to tell him.
“He’s a natural leader, which is a great plus at that position,” says Bonds, a former All-CIF quarterback at Hart High, who went on to play at UCLA.
Adds Scheper: “He’s just a natural leader. He’s a guy you want to follow onto the field.”
Looking the part of a quarterback and being a natural leader are both sentiments that get a bit repetitious when surveying those at St. Francis about Heyworth.
So too is his elusive play.
“As a football player, his leadership is his greatest attribute,” Scheper says. “As a quarterback, it’s his playmaking ability.”
“The thing that surprises me is how well he can scramble,” Garcia says.
Bonds will run down a list of what has him excited about Heyworth being his quarterback. Everything from his attitude, 4.22 grade-point-average intelligence, ability to make reads and his strong arm. But when it comes down to it, Bonds is just like the rest.
“He’s extremely athletic,” Bonds says. “I like what he brings to the table as a complete athlete.”
On top of it all, Heyworth is the centerpiece of an offense filled to the brim with talent at the skill positions.
“This year is considered our best year for skill positions in a while — our offense is really high-powered,” Garcia says. “I’m sure [Heyworth] has to be happy.”
Garcia, Kevin Bessolo, Dietrich Riley and Sean McGuinness make up a talented receiving corps, with Morgan, Riley and Evan King rotating in the backfield. It’s the makeup of an offense full of experience and speed.
“I think we’re capable of putting up a lot of points,” Heyworth says.
With all that’s surrounding him and the total package he seems to possess, Heyworth has also gone the extra mile to insure this season’s success.
“Austin works his butt off day in and day out,” Scheper says.
And if the rest of the team isn’t?
“He’ll get in our faces and tell us,” Garcia says.
Heyworth is quite aware of what’s ahead of him and he’s done his best to prepare.
“I’m putting everything I have into this football season,” he says.
But until Sept. 7 at Arcadia High, when St. Francis opens its 2007 season, nobody — not even Heyworth — knows what’s in store. Heyworth concludes that he’s played quarterback for years and that he’s played varsity football before.
“I feel pretty relaxed — it’s the best feeling in the world. I feel at home out there,” he says of lining up under center. “I’ve seen what [varsity football is] like. I know what the atmosphere’s like, I know what the big game’s like — I think I’m ready.”
But he’s never played quarterback on varsity.
And, although he seems to have all the tools within himself and at his disposal, only a season will truly tell.
All that is certain for now is that the kid with the golden arm, who looks the part of a quarterback and has never wanted to be anything but one, has done everything in his power to prepare for the one season he has to shine.
“I’ve got a golden opportunity,” Heyworth says. “I just want to make the best of it — it’s all there.”