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The Leaders of the Backs

Valencia's Herrick is 249 yards away from owning California's passing record.

November 11, 2005|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

Michael Herrick is mad, frustrated and bitter.

On the verge of becoming the state's career passing yardage leader and its first high school player to pass for 10,000 yards, the Valencia quarterback's disposition has been soured by consecutive losses to league rivals.

"Nobody likes to lose, and if you do, you're a loser," Herrick said. "I hate to lose."

It is an unfortunate turn of events for tonight's opponent, Saugus, because Herrick is a bee's nest for opposing defenses even when he's in a good mood.

With 9,723 career yards, third all-time in the Cal-Hi Sports record book, he needs 248 more tonight at College of the Canyons to match leader Keith Smith, who played for Newbury Park from 1991 to 1993.

Herrick needs 277 yards to reach the five-digit milestone that such quarterbacks as John Elway of Granada Hills, Tom Brady of San Mateo Serra, Carson Palmer of Santa Margarita and Matt Leinart of Santa Ana Mater Dei failed to reach.

Herrick's journey to 10,000 yards seemingly came out of nowhere. When he arrived at Valencia as a skinny freshman, the football team was successful, but its foundation was built on the running game.

When coaches saw the 14-year-old's pinpoint passing, they knew they would be changing their entire offense.

Few varsity debuts have been better. Copying nemesis Newhall Hart High's run-and-shoot offense and trailing, 21-0, Herrick, a sophomore, rallied the Vikings to a 31-28 victory over La Puente Bishop Amat with a school-record 415 yards.

"Everyone was in shock," said Brian Stiman, then Valencia's coach. "I'm sure some thought it was a one-time occurrence, but he hasn't stopped."

Herrick stole the show later that season in losses to Foothill League favorites Canyon Country Canyon, 52-45, and Hart, 42-35.

"One of the finest games of all time," said Mission Viejo Coach and quarterback guru Bob Johnson, who watched Herrick's shootout with Canyon's Nate Longshore, an injured starter this season at California.

"He was throwing it all over the yard. He was just awesome."

Unlike at Canyon and Hart, with their lineage of terrific quarterbacks, Herrick had to fend for himself.

"When he was a sophomore, we didn't even want him to run the ball," Stiman said. "We wanted to protect the golden goose. Not only was he a guinea pig for the offense, but he was going to be the poster child.

"He didn't have anybody to follow. He had nothing to look at, no role model to help him figure out how to do this the best way."

Herrick passed for 3,171 yards and 21 touchdowns as a sophomore. He followed with 4,069 yards and 33 touchdowns during a junior season in which Valencia reached the Southern Section Division II finals.

Herrick's senior season has been something of a disappointment. Recent losses to Hart and Canyon have dropped the Vikings (6-3) from No. 6 in The Times' rankings to No. 20 and from first place in the league to third.

His 2,492 passing yards is fifth-best in the region, but because of the emergence of running back Shane Vereen, who has 1,209 yards and 19 touchdowns, Herrick has passed for only 10 touchdowns, although he has rushed for eight.

A polite, humble, self-proclaimed goofball, Herrick committed to Mississippi, the only college that tendered a scholarship offer even though he was highly rated nationally among pro-style quarterbacks.

The knock on him is his sleight stature. He's listed as 6 feet 2 and 163 pounds, but the upside is he wears a size 14 shoe and won't turn 18 until August.

"When he matures," Stiman said, "he'll throw the ball 65 yards on a dime."




The state's career rushing and passing leaders:

*--* RUSHING Yds. Toby Gerhart, Norco ('02-05) 8,632 Lorenzo Booker, St. Bonavent. ('99-01) 8,495 Dominique Dorsey, Tulare ('98-00) 7,761 Tyler Ebell, Ventura ('98-00) 7,385 David Dotson, Valley View ('89-91) 7,257 Michael Jones, Laguna Hills ('95-97) 7,175


*--* PASSING Yds. Keith Smith, Newbury Park ('91-93) 9,971 Chris Czernek, Newbury Park ('94-96) 9,821 Michael Herrick, Valencia ('03-05) 9,723 Chad Davis, S.D. Mira Mesa ('88-91) 9,332 Todd Marinovich, Capist. Valley ('84-87) 9,182 David Koral, Palisades ('99-00) 8,964 Source: Cal-Hi Sports


Note: Davis also played for Palm Springs and San Diego Torrey Pines and Marinovich also played for Mater Dei.

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