District foots bill for locals' five-star helmets

SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — The Glendale YMCA Quarterback Club, in its 69th year, meets Tuesdays at the Elk's Lodge. The following are odds and ends from the second meeting of the year.



Crescenta Valley High Coach Paul Schilling paused during his weekly remarks to thank the Glendale Unified School District for providing a major equipment upgrade for his team, as well as Glendale and Hoover, prior to the start of the current season.

Over the summer, researchers at Virginia Tech conducted a brand-by-brand, model-by-model ranking of likely concussion resistance for all football helmets on the market with a star-rating system, not unlike the crash-safety ratings used for automobiles.

Schilling said GUSD Superintendent Dr. Richard Sheehan contacted Schilling and his fellow GUSD coaches shortly after the study was released to inquire about how many of the Falcons', Nitros' and Tornadoes' helmets met a four-star or better ranking.

"We're panicking as coaches, like, 'Oh no, what if they don't let us play?'" Schilling said.

Many of the helmets came up short of a four-star rating, but the district responded by picking up the tab to replace all of them with the Ridell Speed model, the only helmet to get a five-star rating in the study. Schilling said, in all, each of the three programs received about 60 new helmets.

"In this day, with the state budget and there not being any money, it's really a great thing for all of us here," Schilling said.



Glendale High suffered its first loss of the season Friday night, 16-14, at La Cañada, but third-year Nitros Coach Alan Eberhart was impressed by several things his team did in the defeat.

"We had a good game," Eberhart said. "La Cañada is a team that beat us up for two years, so [I'm pleased with] the fact that we can compete with La Cañada. We played very well until the end and we got a lot of confidence as we were going."

A self-described "running team" out of the wing T, the Nitros ventured out of their comfort zone and into throwing the ball 37 times when the Spartans made the commitment to bracketing Nitros star receiver Mike Davis to the outside, leaving holes all over the field all night.

The Nitros only completed 14 passes, but Davis still finished with 103 yards in five catches.

"They left a lot of areas open to throw and we tried to throw to all of them," Eberhart said. "When you're getting that open, you need to keep trying. …We just couldn't make the big play. All night we were right there."

Glendale had a chance to win the game, driving near field-goal range with 19 seconds left, but La Cañada recorded an interception to seal the win.

"What we took away from the game is that we're getting better, we're competing," Eberhart said. "[The players] believe they can win, we're in ball games and we're having a good time with it right now."



Tuesday's guest speaker was Jim Clausen, a former football coach at La Cañada High and Cal State Northridge, who raised three sons, Casey, Rick and Jimmy, that played quarterback at major Division I college programs following outstanding prep careers.

Casey, the eldest, played at Alemany and then Tennessee, Rick was a prep standout at Woodland Hills Taft and played at LSU before following in Casey's footsteps as a Volunteer signal-caller and Jimmy, the youngest, is currently a professional quarterback for the Carolina Panthers after playing at Notre Dame by way of Oaks Christian.

With Casey and Rick on hand, Jim talked about the inauspicious beginnings of his brood's athletic achievements.

"I just tried not to mess it up," said Jim Clausen, who now runs an insurance company. "This was not planned. …This is stuff that you only sit back and imagine. We were just a family that watched SportsCenter and enjoyed high school football, and the rest of the stuff, how it happened, I don't know, but we're really, really lucky to have this happen.

"I just wanted my kids, ultimately, to have the high school experience."

Jim Clausen said his kids never played youth football and were encouraged to enjoy different sports and activities growing up. As a freshman in high school, Casey became involved with renowned quarterback guru Steve Clarkson, who would eventually mentor all three Clausen boys in the art of passing.

"People ask me all the time, 'How much did it cost you? It had to cost you a lot of money,'" Jim Clausen said. "Ricky got a Masters from Tennessee, Casey got a Masters from Mississippi State and Jimmy got a degree from Notre Dame, so I don't know, but I'm way ahead of the game."

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