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His Father's Image

Jake Scott Earned a Place in the Buena Record Book Playing for His Dad


VENTURA — Jake Scott is going to join the Merchant Marines. That's not a threat or punishment. It's his plan, and a well-conceived one at that.

But first he must get to Arroyo Grande without his stomach growling.

Scott and his Buena High football teammates have been down this road before. As in the 101 freeway, headed north.

Last time, the bus was late, they didn't have time to stop to eat and Paso Robles handed them their lunch, 29-7, in a nonleague game six weeks ago.

Tonight, Buena travels to Arroyo Grande for a Southern Section Division IV quarterfinal. Scott believes the Bulldogs will go on a feeding frenzy.

As a senior linebacker with a school-record 257 tackles in three varsity seasons, he can sink his teeth into Arroyo Grande's vaunted wing-T running attack.

As the son of Coach Rick Scott, he discreetly asked over dinner whether the team's travel plans are fail-safe. And pass the mashed potatoes, please.

"My dad is making sure everything is set," Jake said. "I'll be ready to play no matter what happens. My dad always put it in my brain that you have to come ready to play regardless of distractions."

Attention to detail runs in the family. Since leaving Hart for Buena in 1988, Rick has established the program as a perennial winner.

Rick and Jake share a fierce love of football. It's the tie that binds a father and son who were apart long enough to appreciate their time together.

Jake lived with his mother in Paradise, Calif., a small town near Chico, until moving to Ventura in the seventh grade to live with Rick and his wife. He wanted to play for his dad, and he wanted to play quarterback, Rick's position in high school and at Cal Lutheran.

One of Jake's earliest memories is of watching Jim Bonds lead Hart High to a Southern Section title in 1986 when Rick was the Indians' coach. Bonds, now the coach at St. Francis, was Jake's baby sitter and Jake constantly wore a jersey with Bonds' No. 7 on it.

Quarterback was the dream. Linebacker became the reality. Dad moved son to the other side of the ball. It was strictly a coach's decision.

"There were guys with better feet and who were more athletic," Rick said. "As Jake grew, I could see he was going to have square shoulders and wide hips. He had a natural linebacker build."

The proper mentality developed over time.

"My first year he wanted me to step up and be the man," Jake said. "I love to hit, but I was horrible my sophomore year. I've learned the position.

"Now I know when someone is running a counter or when somebody is going to cut back."

And he sticks that someone with a helmet. Scott and fellow inside linebacker Mike Peckfelder each have a team-high 79 tackles. Buena allows only 103 yards a game on the ground and 100 through the air.

Besides the stomach-churning loss to Paso Robles, the Bulldogs (9-2) lost only to No. 1-seeded Westlake in the opener. Buena handed rival Ventura its lone loss and won the Channel League title for the fourth year in a row.

Jake's relationship with his father has evolved as he has matured. Rick is at the point where he regards his son as a man.

"He knows when he does wrong or right," Rick said. "I'm not a good pat-on-the-back guy. I don't give a warm fuzzy every time you turn around. I should probably give him more."

Affection is shown in subtle ways. When Jake playfully asked his dad why he never plays catch with him like so many fathers and sons, Rick reminded him that they do so every Friday night during warmups.

And how many high school players come home on Friday night and watch game film with their dad? Jake and Freddy Keiaho, the Bulldogs' star running back, join Rick at 1 a.m. in his bedroom where there are two VCRs.

Jake's grandmother invariably joins them and Rick's wife is usually asleep on the bed. The dog curls up at their feet.

"It's big bed and a big room with a couch," Rick said. "We're all sitting on this big bed together watching the game. It's become a tradition."

Most of the time, Rick avoids talking shop with his son.

Before Jake enrolled at Buena, Rick sought the counsel of other coaches who had coached their sons, including George Contreras of Rio Mesa, Cliff Farrar of Nordhoff and John Harbour, former Camarillo basketball coach.

"George said something that stuck with me," Rick said. "Whatever you do, he said, keep the game separate from what you do and say at home.

"It's impossible to keep it totally separate. But if he doesn't play another day of football, I'm still gonna love him. I forced myself not to chew him out after a bad practice or game."

Lately, Jake hasn't had many bad days.

"Jake understands our defense better than anyone," Peckfelder said. "He's a cut-clean guy. A flat-top guy, ready to go. He's disciplined at home and no-nonsense on the field.

"We've grown up together and we've all gotten used to Jake being the coach's son. He has to call him coach, he can't call him dad. On the field, we all just forget about it."

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