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SOUTHERN SECTION FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEWS : Fallen Star's Shot at Another Title : Once Soured by Football, Fraser Is Back in the Game, and Loving It

December 12, 1987|STEVE LOWERY | Times Staff Writer

It has been 20 years since a quarterback named George Fraser, four years removed from the streets of New York, led Anaheim High School to its last Southern Section football championship.

Fraser was a sophomore in 1967, and he was the type of kid who caused debate as to whether he was cocky or just very, very confident.

He was the type of quarterback who backed up that confidence, who caused debate as to who was better, Fraser or a guy at Bishop Amat named Pat Haden.

When he finished his high school career at Anaheim in 1970, three times named all-Southern Section, more than 100 colleges competed for his affection.

But what he found over the next six years was a frustrating journey through three colleges and an ill-fated attempt at the pros that eventually led him to quit the sport.

The sour taste of those six years is still with Fraser, and yet he seems very much at ease with the sport as he sits in the Anaheim High coaches' office playing cards after practice.

Fraser, 36, is the defensive back coach for Anaheim, which will play Valencia in the Central Conference championship game tonight at 7:30 at Glover Stadium. If his life after Anaheim High didn't quite live up to its billing, his life back at the school is a happy one.

"This has always been a home to me," he said. "I've always been able to come back, through all the disappointments, all the colleges. The people in Anaheim have always been great to me."

George Fraser was born and raised in Manhattan. He lived across the street from a growing boy named Lew Alcindor, four years Fraser's senior.

Fraser didn't play sports in school. Instead, he ran with gangs--the Lords and the Tiny Tots . . . yes, the Tiny Tots.

He played football in park leagues and pick-up games.

"They were tough games," Fraser said. "They were the type of games that, for a halftime show, a fight would break out."

He would say in 1976 that if he had remained in New York, "I'd either be in jail or dead."

He said that a couple of months after a friend in Manhattan had been stabbed to death.

Fraser's mother, Mary, moved the family west to Anaheim in 1964. George, a seventh-grader, went to Fremont Junior High, where he would be named the school's outstanding athlete in seventh, eighth and ninth grades.

George Fraser calls this his "heaven" period.

Then came Anaheim High. Four games into his sophomore season, with Anaheim struggling, Fraser was inserted as the Colonists' quarterback. Anaheim won 10 straight games and the 4-A championship.

Fraser was the first sophomore to be selected as a first-team All-Southern Section quarterback.

"He was as good as they come," said Bob Salerno, an Anaheim coach then and now. "A truly great athlete."

He rushed for 1,660 yards and passed for 2,901 yards in his three seasons at Anaheim.

When it came time to choose a college, Fraser had always had his mind set on UCLA. But he had also set his mind on being a college tailback.

"I never really thought of myself as a quarterback," he said. "I really enjoyed running the ball, and that's what I wanted to do."

He was heavily recruited by UCLA, but as a quarterback.

So Fraser decided to attend Cal "because they had just been so great to me." But forget the fanfare.

"After I signed with Cal, it was like they didn't know me," Fraser said. "It was like the whole challenge of trying to get me was over. They moved on to someone else.

"I don't know if a lot of that has changed. I tell the kids here to be careful. To watch out for themselves because no one else will. Look at me, I went into that situation thinking I could handle it because I could play football. But I didn't. I tell the kids, 'If they make any promises, be sure to get it in writing.' "

He would never play a down at Cal. His first season he was academically ineligible because he said he failed to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test after a mix-up in signing up for exam.

Then in the fall of his sophomore year, he was told he would be redshirting that season. Two days later, he was home in Anaheim. But things didn't get a lot better.

That season, Fraser was a backup quarterback at Fullerton College and worked as a jackhammer operator on a demolition crew. The next two football seasons, he was a backup safety at Cal State Long Beach.

Then a year later, he served time at wide receiver with the Hawaiians and defensive back with the Portland Storm of the World Football League. He tried unsuccessfully to hook on with the Saskatchewan of the Canadian Football League as a quarterback, then played quarterback for a while for the semipro Southern California Razorbacks.

By 1976, football had worn him down.

"It just seemed like everything having to do with football after high school was disappointing," he said. "Everything away from Anaheim seemed to turn out wrong."

He stayed away from the game for nearly 10 years, starting a family with his wife Patty. They have three children.

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