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Undersized Jensen Comes Up Big at Patriot Games

Football: Van Nuys Birmingham's 5-foot-10 quarterback is producing impressive statistics while leading team to 8-0 record.

November 07, 2001|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

At 5 feet 10 and 140 pounds, quarterback Scott Jensen of Van Nuys Birmingham High lacks the height and size that make NCAA Division I coaches drool. Yet, that hasn't stopped the third-year starter from putting up some big statistics.

Jensen has completed 96 of 140 passes for 1,940 yards and 26 touchdowns with five interceptions, helping the Patriots to an 8-0 record.

He threw for 2,187 yards and 23 touchdowns with five interceptions in 12 games last season.

"He does his job well," said Ed Croson, Birmingham's second-year coach. .

"In our offense, a quarterback's job is to serve others, to get the ball in the hands of other players in a position where they can do the most with it. He does that very well."

Jensen is also durable, despite playing a game in which some defenders outweigh him by more than 100 pounds.

Although he sat out the final three games of his sophomore season because of a concussion, Jensen has been injury-free as a junior and senior.

"I feel like my size is an advantage," he said. "I feel like it's harder for [defenders] to tackle me. It's not as easy to see me as it is those bigger players."

Coach Bill Coan of Chatsworth was impressed with Jensen's resiliency in Birmingham's 28-23 come-from-behind victory against the Chancellors on Friday that clinched a share of the West Valley League title.

"He's pretty tough," Coan said. "We sacked him several times in the first half, but it didn't seem to bother him. He came out in the third quarter and threw three touchdown passes."

The ability to bounce back from his first-half pummeling is one example of Jensen's increased maturity on the field, Croson said.

His willingness to sit in the pocket for an extra second or two to let plays develop is another.

"He's holding onto the ball more," Croson said. "He's not running around. He has the patience to sit in the pocket and let things happen instead of always trying to make them happen."

Jensen's ability to read defenses as he directs Birmingham's run-and-shoot offense also has improved.

"He's in a zone now," Croson said. "He understands what he's doing. He's understanding things so well that there are times when it seems like the action on the field is moving slower to him than to the rest of us."

That doesn't mean Jensen is perfect.

He had two passes intercepted in the fourth quarter against Chatsworth and Croson felt there were times during the game when Jensen took sacks instead of throwing the ball away because he didn't want to hurt his 239.1 quarterback rating.

"He talked to me about that," Jensen said. "He basically told me that we're playing to go the [City Section championship game at the Coliseum on Dec. 7].

"He said that a [championship] ring is not about stats. It's about winning."

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