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One for All, All for One : Dritz and Paul Have Musketeer Attitude at Moorpark


MOORPARK — Quarterbacks Tyler Dritz and Bryan Paul could have become bitter rivals this season, and perhaps distracted the Moorpark High football team. But the two players were unselfish enough not to let individual ambitions get in the way of team goals.

In 1993, the Musketeers enjoyed the best season in their history with Dritz playing quarterback and passing for more than 1,000 yards. Moorpark finished 9-2-1, reaching the second round of the Southern Section Division IX playoffs.

But an arm injury forced Dritz, a senior returning starter at quarterback, to move to receiver during two-a-day workouts before this season. Paul, who figured to play receiver while backing up Dritz at quarterback, won the position by default.

The strong-armed junior might have challenged Dritz for the starting job. But he also might have transferred to Thousand Oaks had the Southern Section not flagged a Thousand Oaks assistant coach for illegal recruiting.

Since then, Dritz and Paul have played prominently in the Musketeers' 7-2 start. The Musketeers (2-1 in Frontier League play) are winding down their second-most-successful season.

Paul is the 11th-highest-rated quarterback and Moorpark ranks fifth in total offense (313.1 yards per game) among area schools in the Southern Section. He has thrown 10 touchdown passes and only two interceptions while completing 53.9% of his passes.

"(Dritz is) a good quarterback," Paul said. "That puts more pressure on me to perform better. At the beginning, it worried me a lot. But not as much now, with us doing well and seeing that he's a great receiver.

"But I always feel something, just because he's here. I'm looking over my shoulder."

Dritz rates as one of the league's most-exciting players. He has caught only nine passes (or one per game), but three have gone for touchdowns. He averages 23.7 yards per reception. Dritz has scored seven touchdowns, almost all of them coming on big plays--a 66-yard run on a reverse, a kick return, a punt return and two fumble recoveries.

Moorpark Coach Rob Dearborn said Dritz, who also plays cornerback, is his best defensive player.

"He doesn't tell me this, but I've got the feeling Tyler wouldn't go back to quarterback," Dearborn said.

Until his injury, Dritz had every intention of passing for more than 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season. Last year Dritz, 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, completed 54.4% of his passes for 1,139 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He dreams of getting a football scholarship and figured another good season at quarterback would be his ticket.

"I was ready for this year," Dritz said. "I figured I'd get good stats. I was disappointed at first. But so far I'm having fun. If I was having a bad season, I'd be dying to play quarterback."

In late summer, before the Musketeers met for two-a-day practices, his arm went dead.

"I started losing strength," Dritz said. "My arm would start shaking after practice during passing league. Toward the end, I couldn't even throw a ball 10 yards."

Dritz was suffering from strained ligaments in his shoulder and his elbow in addition to a stretched biceps. His doctor didn't clear him to throw the ball until two weeks ago. By then, Paul had established a stronghold on the position.

Paul, 6-3, 185 pounds, has completed 62 of 115 passes for 1,084 yards. With his current statistics applied to the same number of games that Dritz played last year (12), Paul would finish with 13 touchdowns, 2.5 interceptions and 1,445 yards.

Given the same circumstances, other players probably would be grateful for the opportunity. Not so for Paul, who had planned to be a varsity starter as a sophomore last year. He had started on the junior varsity as a freshman.

But Dritz, a virtual unknown last year, transferred from Westlake and won the job. Injuries sidelined Paul for six games and he threw only eight passes. It was a blow.

During the winter, Paul and his father met with then-Thousand Oaks volunteer assistant coach Bob Shoup and discussed a transfer--a Southern Section rules violation. As penalty for the illegal contact, Paul was forced to stay at Moorpark.

"I was ready to go (to Thousand Oaks)," Paul said. "But after that situation was over, it was over. I don't even think about it anymore. I'm very happy where I am now. The coaches are great, the players are great. They're all good friends. Everything worked out."

As for Dritz, the strong senior year he expected has also worked out--but with plenty of surprises. Instead of throwing touchdown passes, he returned the opening kickoff of Moorpark's season 80 yards for a touchdown.

"That was awesome," he said.

Twice he has stripped the ball from opposing players for fumbles and returned them for long touchdowns. Two weeks ago, in a victory over Santa Paula, Dritz caught a screen pass from Paul and rambled 50 yards for a score.

"I guess it's luck, what I've done so far," Dritz said.

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