When Foothill High School tailback John Fischbeck made a vow to recondition himself after suffering injuries last season, he didn't expect the hard work to pay off so quickly.
Fischbeck, The Times' Player of the Week, rushed for 107 yards and 3 touchdowns Friday as the Knights overcame a 19-0 halftime deficit to beat Riverside Poly, 25-19.
"Last year was kind of a downer," Fischbeck said. "We lost our first two games, and I was hurt and going into games not really thinking about what I was doing. So I decided that for this year I wanted the best for the team and I was going to do whatever I had to do to help them."
Fischbeck had suffered two groin pulls and a bruised abdomen last year in Foothill's season opener against Tustin. He came back one week later only to be knocked unconscious by a Santa Ana Valley lineman.
After that, Fischbeck decided it would be better to start preparing his body for the following season. He didn't want to wait around for it to heal.
Besides putting in long hours in the weight room, Fischbeck spent much of his spring and summer doing sprints on the baseball field and riding his bike "everywhere" he went.
"I just got into this habit, this mental thing, that whenever I had to go to the bank or anywhere I would ride there, then make myself ride up to the top of Chapman hill (in Orange), too. It was a way of getting myself accustomed to doing things that were harder. I was trying to get myself accustommed to saying: 'I want to do it, I'm going to do it.' "
Foothill Coach Ted Mullen sees great promise for Fischbeck's senior season.
"Fish is in the best shape of his life now," said Mullen. "If he's going to get hurt this year, it's going to take something more than just him being out of shape. And if he remains healthy, he'll succeed. He's very reliable."
Besides being in better condition this season physically, Fischbeck believes his mental approach to the game also has improved.
"I used to just go out and go for it," he said. "Now I rely on my linemen (guards Brian Woods and Mike Gazzaniga). I'll take anything I can get as long as it's with their help. They're the ones who get me through the hole."
And if the hole closes and he gets hurt again?
"Well, as long as it isn't something major, it's OK," he said. "I mean, if I break my right wrist I just carry the ball with my left."