For fans who live in Southern California, there never has been a high school football season quite like 2014.
Buy a ticket, turn on a television or click on a computer, because you could witness perhaps the greatest collection of teenage quarterbacks ever.
Week after week, the number of players producing spectacular performances at quarterback is multiplying. A preseason list of top 10 quarterbacks has expanded to 20 and beyond.
I was skeptical about the preseason hype that this might be the best group of quarterbacks in Southern California history.
My choice would have been the season of 1978, which included Hall of Famer John Elway (Granada Hills) and NFL quarterbacks Tom Ramsey (Granada Hills Kennedy) and Jay Schroeder (Palisades). Or 1998, which produced NFL quarterbacks Kyle Boller (Newhall Hart) and JP Losman (Venice) and Gatorade player of the year Chris Lewis (Long Beach Poly).
But going into Week 8 of this high school season, I’m a believer. The depth of talent at all grades is unprecedented. On any Friday night, you can become mesmerized watching one of the quarterbacks execute a no-huddle offense and display the ability to both run and pass, which is the new standard for excellence at the position.
The debate will rage about who’s the best, because there are so many to consider, from UCLA-bound Josh Rosen of Bellflower St. John Bosco to Alabama-bound Blake Barnett of Corona Santiago to Oregon-bound Travis Waller of Anaheim Servite.
What isn’t being argued is the quantity of talent being displayed from San Clemente to Santa Barbara.
It usually takes years to determine the true achievement level of a quarterback class (How did they perform in college? How many made it to the NFL?). But as high school players, this year’s group has few peers.
The other day, Rosen was throwing off one leg to complete passes and lead his team to victory. Jack Lowary of Santa Ana Mater Dei was picking apart a highly regarded secondary. Barnett was passing for a school-record 498 yards. Josh Love of Long Beach Poly was throwing for seven touchdowns. K.J. Costello of Santa Margarita was setting a school record with 495 yards passing. Ricky Town of Ventura St. Bonaventure was attempting his 196th pass without an interception. Trey Tinsley of El Toro was connecting on his 25th touchdown pass. Corona Centennial was sticking with its two-quarterback rotation of Anthony Catalano and Nate Kerringham, who have combined for more than 1,600 yards passing.
It goes on and on. Freshman Matt Corral of Westlake Village Oaks Christian had a game in which he was nine for nine passing for 269 yards and four touchdowns. Sophomore Armando Herrera of Redlands East Valley passed for 302 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Max Gilliam of Thousand Oaks had a game in which he passed for 437 yards and three touchdowns.
For this season, it doesn’t matter how old you are or what grade you’re in. Quarterbacks are producing in big ways.
Dean Herrington, the Mission Hills Alemany coach who used to be a pretty good quarterback during his days at Hart in 1981, said, “I always tell the kids I was the third player in greater San Fernando Valley history to throw for over 2,000 yards. The other two were John Elway and Dana Potter. Now they throw for more than 2,000 yards in six games.”
Yes, times have changed. In youth football, they’re throwing out of shotgun formation and running no-huddle offenses. The quarterbacks are entering high school ready to perform at a much higher level.
So enjoy this year’s 16-game high school schedule, because when it’s time to look back, it will be remembered as the year quarterbacks reigned supreme.