Anthony Chessani, armed with two baseball awards, took an early morning flight from Youngstown, Ohio, and arrived home just in time to make football practice at Fillmore High.
He could not afford to miss another day.
Chessani had missed 13 football practices while playing for the two-time titlist Hart Colt League baseball team. Had he missed one more practice, the sophomore tailback would have been declared ineligible for the first game. A high school player must practice a minimum of 10 days before playing in a game, according to Southern Section rules. Fillmore plays Sept. 9 at Santa Paula.
"I wasn't excited about him missing practice," first-year Coach Curtis Garner said. "I understand this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But I'm supposed to build my offense around this guy and I hadn't seen him play."
Chessani was the winning pitcher Aug. 19 in the final of the Colt World Series in Lafayette, Ind. He earned his second award when Hart won the Junior Olympic Super Series on Sunday in Youngstown. Overall, Chessani posted an 8-0 record and an 0.82 earned-run average.
Garner showed no anger toward Chessani when the sophomore finally showed up for practice.
"He didn't treat me any differently than the other players," Chessani said. "He introduced himself and told me to line up for drills. He looks like a good coach. You could tell by the way he runs his practices that he knows what he's doing."
Chessani did feel the painful results of missing so many practices. "I was sore, really sore after practice," he said. "I could hardly breathe. I think I have the flu."
The new centurions: In addition to Garner, Gene Uebelhardt (Royal), Robert Dearborn (Moorpark), Damian Wilkerson (St. Bonaventure) and Rick Scott (Buena) will begin their first year coaching football at Ventura County high schools.
A matchless winner: Ken Pedroza of Buena High felt cheated despite recently winning the Subaru Classic at UCLA's Los Angeles Tennis Center.
He took the championship without playing a match.
Pedroza, unranked by the Southern California Tennis Assn., was a surprised but disappointed winner in the 18-and-under division when his three opponents each defaulted their matches.
"It was kind of upsetting," Pedroza said. "I haven't had a good summer and I needed a chance to beat some ranked players.
"I drove to UCLA twice and all I did was pick up a trophy."