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They Hope to Become Legends of the Fall

September 10, 2000|STEVE HENSON

It's a position of peril and of glory. Of misdeeds and great deeds. Of broken collarbones and occasionally getting collared.

And, of course, ink. Quarterbacks get plenty. . . .

* Peril and Glory: Several baseball players have ignored the advice of major league scouts and turned their back on Sunday fall leagues to play quarterback on Friday nights.

Rather than a persuasive devil and angel hovering over their shoulders, these players have a coach in knickers whispering, "It's not worth it. You'll get hurt playing football."

Over the other shoulder is a coach with a whistle: "Don't be a pansy. You're only in high school once. Put on the pads and grab the glory."

Adam Geery did, and isn't he cheery. The Kennedy junior passed for five touchdowns Friday night in his starting debut, leading the Cougars to a 66-22 victory over Poly.

Bobby Baca of Granada Hills seconds the motion of tossing spirals. An outfielder in the spring, he completed three passes to Joey Rodriguez in a 47-0 thumping of North Hollywood. All three went for touchdowns.

"I get a lot of people telling me that my future is in baseball and that I'm foolish to play football," Geery said. "But it's too much fun. I've worked too hard to pass up this opportunity."

Kids. Instead of listening to reason (as recited by well-meaning, football-despising baseball folk), they follow their dreams.

They look at Joe Borchard, who juggled three sports at Camarillo High, played quarterback and the outfield at Stanford, and this summer was given the largest signing bonus in baseball history, $5.3 million, largely because of the leverage he had as a two-sport athlete.

* Misdeeds and Great Deeds: Chris Denove of Agoura is another baseball player turned quarterback. He batted .342 as a sophomore in '98, struggled during the 1999 football season and sat out last baseball season for disciplinary reasons.

By all accounts, Denove has matured. So has his game.

He passed for a region-high 401 yards in a 42-26 victory over Calabasas on Friday night. That's more than half the yardage he compiled all last season, when he completed 39% of his passes.

* Broken collarbones and getting collared: Staying on the straight and narrow hasn't always been easy for Corey Miles of Westlake, either. He attended continuation school last spring and was held out of the first two series against Buena on Friday for breaking a team rule.

Coach Jim Benkert tried to cover for his quarterback, feeding reporters a story that was Miles from the truth. Something about starting the second-string quarterback because he could sidestep Buena's blitz.

Benkert simply wanted to shield Miles from bad publicity. But a senior quarterback needs to stand tall--off the field as well as in the pocket--and be accountable for his behavior.

Once in the game, Miles was all smiles, completing 11 of 18 passes and leading Westlake to a 34-13 victory. As long as he follows Denove's lead in the maturity department, everyone around Westlake will wear happy faces.

Frowns can be found at El Camino Real, where junior quarterback Will Savage broke his collarbone in an opener against Jefferson.

Savage is another talented baseball player, a 6-foot-3 pitcher who joined his senior brother, Beau, on the varsity as a sophomore last season. He put baseball on hold to give football a crack.

Which is the sound he heard upon being tackled after a seven-yard scramble on the third play of the game. He stayed in the game for another play, then realized the injury was serious.

The hopes and dreams built during an off-season working out with Jason and Travis Winn, former Granada Hills quarterbacks, crashed. Savage will be sidelined four to six weeks.

"He's worked awful hard," said his father, Steve Savage. "He gets asked to play in baseball tournaments and he turns it down because he really wants to develop as a quarterback."

The guy in knickers over Savage's shoulder is screaming "I told you so." But he'll be back in pads as soon as he recovers.

"He's young, he'll heal fast," his father said.

Kids. Whether the pain is physical or self-inflicted from poor choices, they mend and mature. They move on.

And quarterbacks, well, they get the girls, too.

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