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Come To Pass

Borchard: Despite a relatively low passing percentage, he shows he's no average Joe.

December 13, 1996|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CAMARILLO — Joe Borchard could as easily be Joe Athlete, a Madison Avenue creation marketed for the holidays at a department store near you.

There's the body of NFL proportions: 6-feet-4 and 202 chiseled pounds, close-cropped hair and All-American good looks.

There's speed, arm strength, and the classic release point on his sharp spirals.

There's also a 4.0 grade-point average, a gee-whiz demeanor, and dedication to basketball and baseball when the time comes.

The radiant smile he's worn lately does more than fit an image.

Borchard for the first time knows for sure that his looks are not deceiving. He is the genuine article.

A proven winner.

His smile shown through his facemask in the glow of Camarillo's 47-13 rout of Westlake that sent the Scorpions into the Southern Section Division III final tonight at 7:30 against Notre Dame at Camarillo.

"He was beaming, and it's not too often he does that," said his father, Joe Borchard Sr. "I could see the satisfaction in that smile."

Camarillo's 11-game winning streak and championship berth mean more to Borchard than the college recruiting trips he is frantically squeezing into his schedule. More than the school passing records he has smashed. More than the prospect of being drafted by a major league baseball team in June.

"In the past we weren't regarded as winners," Borchard said. "We were bystanders, mediocre at best. To be regarded as one of the best teams in the area is the highest moment for my teammates and I.

"Stats, personal goals, all that takes a backseat to the team being a winner."

Any hint of a smile was unceremoniously knocked off his face in two previous years. Camarillo was 2-8 his sophomore season and 5-5 last year, and Borchard was sacked more than 60 times.

"My first varsity game I was sacked five times in the first half," he said. "I had no chance. They killed me."

When he did get off a pass, it often was dropped--the fault both of his modestly skilled receivers and his own lack of touch.

Even this season he has completed only half his passes. Despite amassing 2,679 yards and 29 touchdowns with only nine interceptions, Borchard has connected on 180 of 359 passes.

In his career, he has completed 405 of 830 passes for 5,875 yards and 50 touchdowns with 27 interceptions.

The numbers call to mind another Joe, last name Namath, who led the New York Jets to a Super Bowl championship while completing about 50% of his passes.

Then again, doesn't winning percentage mean more than completion percentage?

"Joe's accuracy has improved, and the receivers have gained confidence as the year progressed," said Mike Anger, Camarillo's leading receiver with 86 catches for 1,126 yards and 13 touchdowns. "On third down and in the second half of games, for some reason his passes are on the money."

Running the ball is another avenue to the end zone for Borchard, who has carried for six touchdowns. His size makes him fearless, and he rushed for more than 90 yards in three games this season.

Defenders expecting to bring down some Joe Blow are shocked when it is Joe who delivers the blow.

Against Westlake, Borchard scrambled near the Camarillo sideline and unloaded on a defender, knocking him on his back. Camarillo players cackled and shouted, "You don't hurt Joe-Joe! You want some more of that?"

Said Camarillo Coach Carl Thompson: "I think he'd like to play linebacker. He loves the contact. College recruiters tell me he's one of the toughest quarterbacks they've ever seen."

Borchard masters the fine points of his position every Sunday with Steve Clarkson, a private quarterback coach whose clients include Steve Sarkisian of Brigham Young, Pat Barnes of California and Billy Blanton of San Diego State.

Clarkson called Borchard last summer and invited him to a passing competition that included many top college and high school quarterbacks.

"Clarkson has really turned him around," Borchard's father said. "Joe has gone to him religiously all season."

Borchard draws inspiration from a range of sources, including his coaches, Moorpark College baseball coach and family friend Ken Wagner, Camarillo baseball Coach Scott Cline, and his former youth football coach, the late Henry Cornish.

But when he really needs a sympathetic ear, he calls his sister Julie, a softball player at the University of Wisconsin.

"We can talk about things I don't like to talk about with anyone else," he said.

Borchard's sister Jill is a Camarillo sophomore and another accomplished softball player. The three children of Camarillo High graduates Joe and Janice Borchard are descended from hardy pioneer stock.

In 1864, brothers Casper and John Borchard emigrated from Germany and started farms that sprawled from the Conejo Valley to the Oxnard plains. They had large families, and many generations later, Borchards dot the Ventura County telephone book.

"I think what Joe inherited is a love of dirt and mud," his father said. "He was that way as a little kid, always in the mud. Today when I see his jersey covered in mud, I think of that."

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