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A BONE OF CONTENTION : Ventura College's Todd Paffhausen Works to Regain Starting Job : at Quarterback After Broken Hand Relegated Him to the Sidelines

September 14, 1989|RALPH NICHOLS | Special to The Times

Todd Paffhausen expected to spend the summer taking snaps from center and pinpointing spiral passes to his Ventura College receivers.

Instead, the sophomore quarterback spent his vacation commuting to Centinela Hospital in Inglewood for treatment on a broken bone in his right hand.

It has been more than two months since Paffhausen broke two bones in a fight in his hometown of Butte, Mont., yet he is still uncertain of when he will be ready to throw accurately again.

Paffhausen wasn't ready to start in Ventura's season opener against Porterville last week. Freshman Tim Albrent, who had limited experience at quarterback at Ventura High, started in Paffhausen's place, completing six of 18 passes for 65 yards and two touchdowns in the Pirates' 30-0 victory.

Paffhausen played only briefly in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game, completing one of five passes for 11 yards.

Fortunately for Paffhausen, the Pirates have a bye this weekend, giving him an extra week to recuperate before Ventura's Sept. 23 game at Compton.

"I'm healing quicker than I expected, but it really hurt me not being able to lift weights this summer because of the injury," Paffhausen, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, said.

Coach Phil Passno said he expects Paffhausen will be ready to start against Compton.

"His hand is healed, so it is just a matter of him having more throwing time and getting back in the groove," Passno said. "He will definitely be ready to go against Compton. Whether we choose to start him, I don't know. Both Todd and Tim are doing well right now."

A broken hand is the last thing Paffhausen expected this summer. After wresting the starting quarterback job away from Juan Moreno at the end of last season, Paffhausen planned on being Passno's top quarterback again this season.

And he was No. 1 until July, when he was hurt in an incident he is still reluctant to discuss in detail. Doctors set the break with two pins, which will remain in Paffhausen's hand the rest of this season.

Yet despite all that, Paffhausen is confident he will regain the starting job.

"I was the No. 1 quarterback on the list after last season and as far as I'm concerned I still am the top one," Paffhausen said. "I still have to be beaten out for the job."

Paffhausen will get stiff competition from Albrent (6-2, 200), who alternated between quarterback and fullback at Ventura High last season. Albrent moved to quarterback last year after playing tailback during his junior season.

Albrent hopes to stay at quarterback throughout his college career, however.

"Moving around positions in high school was frustrating because I just wanted to stay at one position," Albrent said. "I don't have the speed to be a running back in college. I think I can go farther as a quarterback."

Passno worked with Albrent last summer and he is confident the freshman can do the job.

"Tim had limited high school experience at quarterback, but he has good speed and that gives us an extra dimension in the backfield on the rollouts and bootlegs," Passno said.

Passno gave Albrent high marks after his college debut Saturday.

"I thought he did very good for a freshman quarterback," Passno said.

Ventura's quarterback woes grew recently when freshman Tony Perez of Hueneme High left the team after missing two weeks of practice with a gashed knee.

"Depth is always a concern and I had felt our depth was going to be real strong this year. And then Todd broke his hand and Tony Perez gashed his knee," Passno said.

No matter who starts at quarterback, Passno does not expect Ventura to dazzle opponents with its offense.

"We're going to control the tempo of our games with our defense," Passno said. "We don't have the offense than can go out and do things right away. We're young on offense so we will be playing on the conservative side."

Passno expected Paffhausen to provide leadership at quarterback as a returning sophomore. After all, he helped Ventura finish .500 last year and played a key role in the Pirates' 12-10 come-from-behind victory over rival Moorpark.

Depending on how quickly he recuperates, Paffhausen could still provide that leadership.

"He is doing all the right things and he is coming on a lot faster in his recuperation than we thought," Passno said.

Paffhausen came to Ventura from Montana, where he led Butte High to the state title game in both his junior and senior seasons. He hoped to increase his chances of earning a scholarship by playing junior college football in California instead of staying in Montana.

But he still needs a good season to attract the attention of a four-year school. And to do that, he needs both hands.

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