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Third-String Quarterback Galasso to Start Tonight : Chapman: Freshman from Trabuco Hills played running back early in the season and has completed only two of eight passes.

October 22, 1994|MARTIN BECK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ORANGE — Because his top two quarterbacks are injured, Chapman Coach Ken Visser has been forced to call on freshman Jacob Galasso to start tonight's game in Orange against Menlo College.

"Jake wanted to play quarterback when he came here," Visser said. "I don't think he anticipated it would happen this fast."

But Galasso is growing accustomed to quick switches. He began last season as one of three quarterbacks at Trabuco Hills High, moved to running back late in the season, and helped the Mustangs to the Southern Section Division VIII title.

At Chapman, after finding himself behind Curtis Robinson and Todd Gragnano, two talented and experienced quarterbacks, Galasso again moved to running back.

He got limited playing time in the first two games, but started at tailback in the third game against Redlands because Darnell Morgan was hurt.

Galasso also got his first taste of playing quarterback in college during that game after Robinson and Gragnano were knocked out by injuries.

"That was one of the few games I didn't warm up as a quarterback," Galasso said. "Halfway through they said, 'Go warm up your arm,' and I threw about three balls and wound up in the game."

It wasn't a spectacular debut, but it wasn't a disaster either. Galasso didn't complete a pass in three attempts and gained 18 yards in six carries. In three series under Galasso, the Panthers only got one first down--on a Redlands' offside penalty--but the Panthers didn't turn the ball over and that helped set the stage for Gragnano's return.

In the final two minutes, Gragnano led a 62-yard touchdown drive, completed by a seven-yard touchdown pass to Dave Poltl, and the Panthers trailed, 14-12.

On the two-point conversion, Gragnano pitched to Galasso, who passed to Oscar Ford to tie the score.

The next week, Galasso completed two of four passes for 49 yards and rushed for a touchdown, in mop-up work during a 59-18 victory over Azusa Pacific.

Today, Galasso, who has completed only two of eight passes this season, will be calling the signals when it counts for the 3-1-1 Panthers. Robinson, resting his separated shoulder, didn't practice this week and Gragnano, still bothered by an injured finger, practiced sparingly.

Visser, frustrated with the quarterback situation, decided he needed to settle on a healthy one.

"It was like a different game plan, not every week, but everyday," Visser said. "We're just going to have to let Jacob step in there and build a game plan around him."

Visser said he is confident Galasso can do the job.

"He can run the option well and he's got a strong, inexperienced arm," Visser said. "He hasn't done a lot of throwing, but the arm strength is there."

Galasso probably won't be asked to do much passing, but says he will be ready if necessary. "I'm twice as good a passer as I was last year," he said.

Robinson and Gragnano have accounted for 965 yards, nearly half of Chapman's 1,942 yards of total offense this season. But Galasso doubts there will be much drop-off against Menlo.

"I think it's going to be a lot of the same thing," Galasso said. "I think we're just going to basically go out and play Chapman ball, make no adjustments, just take it to them in every way."

Notes

The 7 p.m. game, Chapman's second home game of the season, is a sellout. . . . Quarterback Jacob Galasso says one of the reasons he decided to come to Chapman is that it was one of the few schools recruiting him and his older brother, reserve defensive lineman Joe Galasso, who played at Orange Coast. "They're telling him he will play a lot more this week," Jacob Galasso said. "This will be a good game for our family to go to." . . . Menlo (1-5) ended an 18-game winless streak by beating Redlands, 22-21, two weeks ago. The Oaks will be shorthanded because of disciplinary action after a brawl in their 34-21 loss to Claremont-Mudd last week. With 19 seconds left, linebacker Kekoa Mau jumped offside, knocking down a Claremont player and triggering the fight. Two starters, safety Tim Tulloch and defensive lineman Dave Asiasi, were kicked off the team because of the incident and previous offenses. Another starter, linebacker Landon Kalua, and two reserves, wide receiver Ramon Fulcher and quarterback Pat Canonigo, were suspended for this game and Mau must sit out the first half because he was ejected from the Claremont game. . . . Menlo Coach Ray Solari, in his 23rd and final year with the Oaks, coached Chapman Athletic Director Dave Currey in high school. With Currey at halfback, South Pasadena won the 1959 Southern Section Division 2-A title, beating Mater Dei, featuring future Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte.

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