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Lining Up for No. 1

Junior quarterback Todd Feiereisen appears ahead of schedule after being thrust into controls of Westlake offense because of injury to starter.


WESTLAKE VILLAGE — Talk about being thrown into the Feiereisen.

There was Kid Quarterback, scrambling for his life against the No. 15 team in the state, trying to stand tall behind an offensive line as inexperienced as he is.

When it was over, Todd Feiereisen, playing only because of an injury to starter Cory Miles, had completed 13 of 16 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns.

And, by the way, Westlake High nearly upset mighty Clovis West, losing on a failed two-point conversion late in the game.

It was almost enough to make you forget that Wasserman guy.

Feiereisen, a 6-foot-1 junior who transferred from Thousand Oaks in January, was supposed to be the quarterback of the future.

Feiereisen (pronounced FIRE-eye-son) has emerged as the quarterback of the present because Miles is out six to eight weeks because of a broken right fibula.

It might not be a bad thing for the Warriors, who haven't had a fleet-footed field general in years.

Speed? Feiereisen is as comfortable rolling out as he is standing in the pocket.

Toughness? He has played safety since he donned shoulder pads at age 7.

Smarts? His 4.0 grade-point average comes in handy in the huddle.

Big-game poise and performance as a starter? Hmmmm. To be determined tonight against Hart.

The Indians, ranked No. 1 in the region by The Times, were concerned enough with No. 3 Westlake that they sent assistant Dean Herrington on a four-hour scouting trip to Clovis on Saturday.

Herrington's notes were littered with references to Feiereisen.

"I think he could be a college prospect," Herrington said.

Feiereisen is all too familiar with college prospects. He admits he left Thousand Oaks mainly because of Ben Olson, a 6-5 junior who has caught the attention of college coaches.

Olson became the starter for Thousand Oaks midway through last season while Feiereisen stayed on the junior varsity.

Feiereisen led the junior varsity to a 10-0 record, but the varsity became Olson's and will be that way through next season.

"I figured I wouldn't get any recognition or playing time there," said Feiereisen, who will start against Thousand Oaks in a league opener next Thursday. "I thought I'd have better chances at Westlake."

Feiereisen consulted his parents and, equally important, his brothers, who established an athletic legacy at Thousand Oaks.

Craig was a Marmonte League wrestling champion and Jeff was a defensive back and track standout.

Todd Feiereisen, after getting the green light from the family, transferred under open enrollment before the second semester.

Two other players who left Thousand Oaks, Kasey O'Brien and Chris Cannon, also are on the Westlake varsity.

"Seeing the Westlake program over the years, we could tell they were a powerhouse and we knew how many people they send to Division I schools," Feiereisen said. "We decided it would be for the best. Things have turned out all right."

Feiereisen started the opener against Buena when Miles was benched for the two series because of disciplinary reasons. Feiereisen completed four of five passes for 21 yards and two touchdowns in the Warriors' 34-13 victory.

Coupled with his performance against Clovis West, Feiereisen has completed 17 of 21 passes for 238 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

But he hasn't been called on to run the offense for an entire game. Tonight, when he faces one of the best defensive fronts in the state, he'll know a lot more about his ability.

Coach Jim Benkert of Westlake, who has coached several successful quarterbacks, including freshman Zac Wasserman of Penn State, thinks Feiereisen has the qualities to succeed . . . with a few trials by fire along the way.

"He still has a lot to learn and I think he knows that," Benkert said. "More than anything we were counting on him to play defense this year . . . I think he's a capable quarterback.

"Has he learned all his lessons? Probably not. The ones he has learned, he doesn't forget."

Feiereisen, who intercepted a pass at free safety against Buena, expects to have his defensive role diminished. He said he will play defense only in passing situations.

There are other worries, such as leading an offense that averaged 39.1 points a game last season.

"It's definitely exciting," Feiereisen said. "To lose Cory is nothing I want to see, but I need to step up and take the job.

"I've been waiting for this for a long time. I'm ready."


Hart at Westlake, 7 p.m.

Simi Valley vs.

Crescenta Valley

at Glendale High, 7 p.m.

Riverside Notre Dame vs.

St. Bonaventure

at Ventura High, 7 p.m.

California School of the Deaf

of Riverside vs. Bell-Jeff

at Burroughs High, 7:30 p.m.



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