Todd Marinovich's varsity football career, now in its fourth hit season, has been exemplified by records, more records and a mound of press clippings unrivaled in Orange County prep history.
It has all made him very well-known, and yet, it's virtually impossible for those who follow his exploits through the newspaper to understand what it is like to be him.
Friday, Marinovich, Capistrano Valley High School quarterback and The Times' Player of the Week, set the Southern Section record for career passing yardage against Estancia. His 283 yards in that game raised his career yardage to 7,644, surpassing Pat Haden's mark of 7,633. Haden accomplished that in three seasons (1968-70) at Bishop Amat.
Talking about it later, Marinovich seemed more relieved than elated: "I'm just glad it's over."
That may sound a bit impudent, but the buildup to records can become a burden to players who make a habit of setting them.
"It gets so that when you break a record, it feels like a big load has been taken off your back," Marinovich said.
Marinovich knows of what he speaks. In addition to the Orange County record for career passing yardage, he also has the county record for career touchdown passes (43).
The fact that he sounds less than thrilled may once again strike a strange cord to some, but few people really have the background to understand. One person who does is Pat Haden.
"I've heard so much about him and what he's accomplished, I think it's marvelous," Haden said. "But, I think the thing that most impresses me about him is that he's managed to keep his head on straight through it all. That's so hard to do during times like that, I know."
Haden has actually known Marinovich since Todd was 4. Todd's uncle, Gary Marinovich, coached Haden at Bishop Amat. Another uncle, Craig Fertig, was Haden's quarterback coach at USC. Todd's father, Marv, was a strength coach when Haden played for the Rams.
Even if they had never met, Haden would be able to identify with what Marinovich has endured, since Haden endured much of the same in his high school career.
Haden still has Southern Section records for career completions (527), career touchdown passes (82) and touchdown passes in a season (42).
"It can really be a problem, especially when you're setting individual records in a team sport," Haden said. "You have people who might think you're a showboat, others who might be jealous of you. Plus you have to handle yourself and make sure you don't lose perspective that all you're really doing is playing a game."
Which Marinovich has tried to do.
"I don't think anyone on the team, including Todd, ever talks about records," said Randy Stark, Capistrano Valley tight end.
Stark, 6-feet 3-inches, consecutively caught passes of 19, 14, 21 and 13 yards to help Marinovich set the record. In all, Stark caught 7 passes for 111 yards.
"It was like playing catch between me and Randy," Marinovich said. "Things just went really well for me in that game."
Marinovich completed 19 of 28 passes for 2 touchdowns against Estancia and rushed for his first touchdown of the season. Capistrano Valley is 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in Orange County.
"Things are nice right now," he said. "I guess I have about five games to breathe before it all starts again."
Marinovich will probably set state and national passing yardage records in a little more than a month. Ron Cuccia (L.A Wilson, 1975-77) set the record with 8,804 yards. Marinovich is 1,160 yards short of that record.
Capistrano Valley High School
Height, Weight, Class: 6-4, 208, Sr.
Last Week: Threw for 283 yards against Estancia to set Southern Section career passing yardage record at 7,644. He completed 19 of 28 passes in the game, two for touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown in Cougars' 29-10 victory.
Season: He has completed 61 of 104 passes (58.7%) for 934 yards and 8 touchdowns.