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Garrison Collecting Memories to Last a Lifetime

November 27, 2001|Eric Sondheimer

Scott Garrison would love to win a Southern Section championship, receive a kiss from the prettiest cheerleader and earn a college scholarship.

All that and more may happen to him in the next few weeks, but if it doesn't, he won't have any regrets because he already has discovered the real reason he plays high school football.

It's to stand side by side with his best friends, ignore bumps and bruises, aches and pains, and create memories to last a lifetime.

For four years, he has been playing fullback and linebacker for San Luis Obispo High. He was promoted to varsity for the playoffs his freshman year and has started in 41 consecutive games.

With Garrison leading the way, San Luis Obispo (9-3) needs only to defeat Ventura on Saturday night to reach the Division IV championship game for the third time in four seasons.

A 5-foot-11, 220-pound inside linebacker with exceptional 40-yard speed, Garrison races to the ball and makes hits that could register on the Richter scale. As a fullback, he runs and blocks as if he were a battering ram.

"You don't have a choice," he said about collisions. "You either hit them or they're going to hit you. For me, knocking someone on their back is just as much fun as scoring a touchdown."

Last week, Moorpark Coach Tim Lins did his best to neutralize Garrison. Moorpark lost, 48-10.

"He's just a well-built guy with huge hips and legs and runs through tackles," Lins said. "We knew we were going to have to get a lot of people on him to contain him. It's always No. 45 taking on blocks or sliding through blocks. He doesn't seem to get blocked."

Garrison won't need to play college football or make the NFL for the people of San Luis Obispo to consider him a hero.

San Luis Obispo has been his home since birth. The city of 44,000 is four hours north of Los Angeles on the Central Coast. The residents cherish their beaches, trees, clean air and safe neighborhoods.

"It's a real nice town," Garrison said. "Everyone knows everyone. Most families that grow up here don't leave."

Garrison remembers playing hide-and-seek at night as a 5-year-old, with his parents not having to worry where he was. He has known several football teammates since they were 6 and played youth soccer. Others have played together since they were 8-year-old baseball all-star teammates.

"We'll hang out, go to lunch, chase girls together," he said. "It's not like we just play football together. We're all good friends. They're going to block for you, you block for them. It's a trust thing."

His father is an electrical contractor. His mother works for the school district. An older brother played football for the Tigers. A younger brother is "a surfer boy."

Garrison sticks to football and baseball, where he's a starting outfielder.

His speed is put to good use in football, allowing him to run sideline to sideline to chase down running backs. But he receives plenty of support.

"We run a swarm defense," he said. "We're hoping we can have 11 hits every play. There's some plays I might not move more than five yards to fill a hole, but speed is definitely the most important thing."

From the moment he went out for tackle football as a fifth-grader, fullback and linebacker have been his positions. They are usually reserved for the toughest players. Maybe the wrestling matches and roughhousing with his older brother convinced others of his toughness.

He has a 3.6 grade-point average, scored 1,210 on the SAT and has received inquiries from Northwestern, Fresno State, Nevada and Washington State. No school has offered a scholarship, but Garrison isn't worried.

"I'm going to play somewhere," he said.

With his high school football career winding down, Garrison has been able to recognize its true benefits before he graduates, which makes his experience much more enjoyable.

"I love just playing," he said. "But afterward, I love getting to talk with everyone, being in the locker room, being at practice with all your friends. These are memories you're never going to forget for your whole life."


Eric Sondheimer can be reached at

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