You've heard of an armchair quarterback? How about a bedside coach? Leo Hand, Servite High School's football coach, made the calls from his bed in Long Beach Saturday night as the Friars scored a 28-21 victory over Colton before 5,000 fans at Gahr High in Cerritos.
Hand underwent surgery last weekend and did not attend practice during the week. But he never missed a play in this game, due to the ingeniuty of booster Bill Frank.
Frank had a mobile telephone in the press box and relayed the game information to Hand, who made the calls from his home. Of course, with sophomore tailback Derek Brown in the backfield, it didn't take a genius to figure out a game plan.
Brown, starting his first varsity game, gained 150 yards in 15 carries and scored 2 touchdowns as the Friars defeated Colton in their season opener for the third straight year.
Brown's 45-yard touchdown run with 10:52 remaining proved to be the difference. He also had a 62-yard touchdown run called back late in the game because of an illegal block.
"I look forward to three years with Derek Brown in the backfield," said Bob Walker, the Friars' offensive coordinator. "I thought he was the best back on the field tonight."
That's saying a lot considering that George Hemingway, Colton's tailback with the strong moves, was also on the same field. Hemingway finished with 101 yards in 24 carries but failed to reach the end zone. He scored 17 touchdowns last year as a junior.
"That kid Brown is a heck of a back, and I understand he's only a sophomore," Colton Coach Robin Luken said. "We've played them three straight years now (and lost). It will be interesting to see if we can bounce back."
The game also marked the debut of Jason Messersmith as the Servite quarterback. The junior completed 7 of 13 passes for 143 yards and scored one touchdown. He showed that he has a strong arm with a 47-yard pass to Nick-John Haiduc late in the game that had the crowd buzzing.
Messersmith, the son of former Dodger and Angel pitcher Andy Messersmith, was a surprising starter in place of Brett Caya after sitting on the bench last year as the fourth-string quarterback on the Friars' sophomore team.
Colton rushed for 257 yards as Hemingway, Daryl Wingate and Ray Aldama repeatedly went through the Servite line for big gains. Aldama had 76 yards in only 6 carries in the first half, including a 46-yard touchdown run with 1:11 left in the first quarter that gave the Yellowjackets a 14-7 lead.
Messersmith was noticeably nervous at the outset, but the junior settled down and finished with 91 yards passing in the first half. His 38-yard pass to Haiduc set up Eddie Brown's 2-yard touchdown in the second quarter that tied the score, 14-14.