The season may have ended Friday for Beverly Hills High quarterback Ziv Gottlieb and his teammates, but the kind of season Gottlieb had indicates that he will probably have an excellent senior year in 1991.
St. Paul eliminated Beverly Hills, 42-7, in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division III playoffs, containing Gottlieb and his receivers for most of the game.
Gottlieb, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior, was among the Southern Section's top passers this season. In the 11 games before the Normans met St. Paul, he completed 156 of 301 passes for 2,512 yards and 20 touchdowns. He had already set school season records for attempts, completions and yardage before last week's playoff game.
Against St. Paul, however, Gottlieb was sacked seven times for losses that totaled 66 yards, and he completed 11 of 22 passes for 134 yards with two interceptions.
Gottlieb comes from a family of excellent athletes. His brother Erez was an offensive lineman for the Normans and was named to The Times' 1987 All-Westside team. He is a center for Colorado, the nation's top-rated team. Older sister Lisa was a hurdler at Beverly Hills.
As a sophomore, Ziv Gottlieb played varsity football, basketball and baseball, He was supposed to be a backup to senior quarterback Robbie Welles, but he ended up becoming a starter at defensive back. He had to miss the first two games because under Southern Section rules, he could not compete on the varsity level until his 15th birthday.
Carter Paysinger, who completed his first year as coach at Beverly Hills, said that Gottlieb "has a lot of raw talent."
"We knew he could throw the ball and it was more of a matter of refining his talents to fit our system," Paysinger said.
Gottlieb's talent and Paysinger's system proved to be a good fit.
Beverly Hills entered the 1989 season in a state of disarray. A teachers' strike during the previous season forced the team to forfeit three games because then-co-coaches Bill Stansbury and Dick Billingsley honored the strike. The team ended the season with a 3-7 record.
Stansbury and Billingsley accepted other jobs near the end of the school year and spring drills for the football team were canceled. Players, including Gottlieb, were thinking of transferring.
"All anyone could talk about was transferring out of here," Gottlieb was quoted as saying. "I was looking into the possibility of either transferring to Crespi or Loyola. I figured this program was going nowhere. We didn't even have a coach."
Then in mid-June, the team had a coach: Paysinger, a veteran assistant who had played football and baseball at Beverly Hills in 1971-74. When Paysinger took over he knew he had a quarterback in Gottlieb.
As soon as Gottlieb heard of Paysinger's appointment, he stopped thinking of transferring and started preparing to be the Beverly Hills quarterback. Before the school year ended, he began arriving at school at 6 a.m. to lift weights and run up and down stairs.
During the summer, he attended UCLA Coach Terry Donahue's football camp at UC Irvine, where, he said, he received instruction from former UCLA quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Tom Ramsey.
Paysinger said that Donahue's camp "gave (Ziv) the opportunity to see other quarterbacks with as much talent, if not more, than he has. Seeing the other guys and doing what he had to do helped him tremendously."
Gottlieb said developing the proper footwork to gain power in throwing was emphasized at the camp.
The Normans were not expected to make the playoffs this season. However, Beverly Hills not only advanced to postseason play as the Bay League's fourth-place team, it also upset Foothill League champion Montebello Schurr, 29-28, on a last-minute run by Gottlieb and a two-point conversion. Then came the loss to St. Paul. The Normans finished 6-6.
When Gottlieb scrambled for a touchdown against Schurr, giving Beverly Hills the opportunity to win the game, it was a complete improvisation and against Paysinger's orders.
Gottlieb said that Paysinger didn't want him to run the ball "because he watched me mature and he doesn't want me to do something that I won't be doing later in football."
Against Schurr, however, he saw an opening to the outside, pulled the ball down instead of passing and sprinted for the touchdown that made the score 28-27. Smith then ran in the two-point conversion that won the game.
Paysinger said that Gottlieb's initiative and variations on the game plan are sometimes welcome.
"He's got a lot of confidence and carries himself well for a junior," Paysinger said. "That helps a lot as far as having leadership on the field."
Gottlieb's ability to improvise on the football field may stem from his passion for music. He said that he is a self-taught pianist who has composed more than 100 works in classical, jazz and rock music.
Although he does not read music, Gottlieb said he has memorized his compositions and that his music is as important to him as football.
"My music is like a run on the football field; nobody teaches you how to do it," he said.