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High Schools | FOOTBALL PREVIEWS

Schantz Can Look Toward the Future

The Canyon Country Canyon linebacker has overcome his share of tragedy in life to become a top player in the Southland.

September 09, 2003|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

Andrew Schantz still has pictures of his father. He also has memories.

"He used to take me to the park a lot," Schantz said. "Even when I was little, he'd throw the football with me."

Schantz was 5 at the time. Later that year, his father died in a car accident. Schantz, his brother and two sisters were reared by their mother, Ramona.

It hasn't always been easy. Nor was it a seamless transition.

"It was not a pleasant time in my life or their lives," Ramona Schantz said. "One day their dad was there, and the next day he wasn't."

Twelve years later, Schantz is a standout linebacker at Canyon Country Canyon. He begins his senior season as one of the top defensive players in the Southland.

He credits his mother for taking on both parental roles.

"She knows when to be a mom, she knows when to be a dad," he said. "When I'm out there on the field, she's able to tell how good I'm playing or how poorly I'm playing. I don't think a lot of moms can sit there and watch their sons and then critique them. She's still a mom in that when I'm hurt, or she thinks I'm hurt, she's down there on the field, asking me if I'm OK."

Sports have been part of Schantz's life since he was young. He ran track in grade school and became attracted to long-distance running. He and his track coach started out running smaller increments: one mile, three miles, four miles.

Then it became serious. Eight, 10, 12 miles at a time.

Schantz eventually worked his way up to longer distances. He passed the 20-mile mark, the 25-mile mark.

He ran a marathon in Palos Verdes in 4 hours, 44 minutes when he was 11.

"He'll decide something and then go for it. I often think if we all had that passion in life, we'd be hugely successful," Ramona Schantz said. "He's more of an inspiration to me than I am to him."

At times, Schantz's passion takes precedence over pain.

In a playoff game last year against Mission Viejo, Schantz suffered a partially punctured lung in the second quarter. Canyon was getting crushed and ultimately lost, 48-14, but Schantz insisted on returning for the second half.

He played every down on defense.

"If it were me, I'd be in the ambulance with Demerol," Canyon Coach Harry Welch said. "We didn't need to have him out there -- we needed USC to be out there -- but he has a motor that runs and he plays in pain by choice."

Schantz, 6 feet 1 and 218 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds this summer at the Nike Combine at USC.

A little undersized, Schantz has yet to be offered a college scholarship.

Said Welch: "If he has a terrific season, people will stand in line."

With Schantz and heavily recruited quarterback Nate Longshore, Canyon could return to prominence this year. The Cowboys won three consecutive Southern Section championships from 1983-85, but Foothill League rival Newhall Hart has overshadowed them in recent seasons.

Might this be the year the Cowboys repeat their past success?

"We never talk about it, but if it happens, it happens," Schantz said. "If it doesn't, it doesn't. The '80s are behind us. We're trying to start up a whole new generation of Cowboy football."

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