Column: Oaks Christian’s Josh Calvert makes an impact on both sides of the line of scrimmage

Oaks Christian’s Josh Calvert (14) leads the offense when playing quarterback, left, and helps anchor the defense at linebacker.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Take a moment to imagine what it must be like on Saturday mornings when Josh Calvert of Westlake Village Oaks Christian awakens and begins to check out his scabs, bruises, scratches, aches and pains from playing quarterback and linebacker on Friday night.

“I roll over and get a few cracks out,” he says. “I’m a little sore. I get bruises all over my arms, the back of the shoulders, all over my legs, on my shins.

And yet, Calvert says, “I love it.”

There’s no player in Southern California high school football pulling off what Calvert does. He’s a starting quarterback and a starting linebacker in Division 1, a two-way challenge rarely tried. What coach risks his quarterback’s well-being by also letting him make tackle after tackle at linebacker?


“He’s just the biggest competitor,” Oaks Christian coach Charles Collins said.

Usually, if a coach needs his quarterback to play defense, he’s placed at defensive back to protect his arm.

Mike Herrington, the head coach at Newhall Hart for 30 years, used some of his best quarterbacks in the secondary, such as future NFL quarterbacks Matt Moore and Kyle Boller. But never would he think of trying them at linebacker.

“That’s pretty rare,” Herrington said. “Usually it’s one or the other. The quarterback is the leader on offense and the linebacker is the leader on defense. To have him do both would be extraordinary.”

That’s a good description for Calvert, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound senior who plans to graduate in December and play linebacker next season for Washington.

As quarterback, he’s more of a facilitator, getting the ball to Michigan-bound running back Zach Charbonnet or Stanford-bound receiver Bryce Farrell. He also can run.

“I like to give the hit, not take them,” he said.

He has helped Oaks Christian to a 9-0 record going into a Marmonte League title decider on Friday against rival Westlake. This is his final season playing quarterback, and he’s enjoying every minute of the experience.


“It’s so much fun,” he said. “For me, it’s not a stressful thing. It’s relaxing. You get to go out and have fun at that position. It’s my last year.”

Physicality is a big part of Calvert’s game, and it’s understandable since he comes from a family of three football-playing brothers. Bo, 19, is a freshman linebacker at UCLA. Then comes Josh, 17, and Ethan, 16, a sophomore receiver/linebacker at Oaks Christian.

“Them not being normal athletes has definitely helped me get to where I am now,” he said.

The boys grew up playing soccer and baseball before turning to football. Their father, David, and mother, Sirena, had their hands full.

“Ever since we were young, it was fights in the living room, backyard football, backyard baseball,” Josh said.

Calvert recounted one memorable backyard moment playing baseball when Bo was in the fifth grade, Josh in fourth grade and Ethan in second.

“Bo threw the ball at me, hitting me in the face,” Josh said. “When I swung, I hit Ethan in the face and broke his nose.”


When their parents came out to check the uproar, Josh said, “there was blood all over the place and they no idea what was going on. It was pretty crazy. Bo was a little scared but laughing at the same time.”

Now the Calvert boys all agree that Ethan, 6-2, 215, might be the best athlete when all is said and done.

Only one Calvert brother will ever be able to claim the rare feat of playing quarterback/linebacker.

Twitter: @latsondheimer