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Player of the year: Cody Fajardo

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Servite High quarterback had dream season capped with state championship.

January 03, 2010|By Ben Bolch

You always knew how it was going to turn out when Cody Fajardo decided to wing it.

Favorably for Anaheim Servite High.

Whether the quarterback deftly scrambled around defenders or slipped a tackle and heaved a pass downfield, he usually achieved the desired result.

Fajardo guided the Friars to several narrow playoff victories on the way to becoming the first team in school history to play in the CIF state championship Division II bowl. Fajardo came up big in that game too, passing for one touchdown and running for another during Servite's 33-30 win over Rocklin.

It was a season full of highlights for Fajardo, The Times' Glenn Davis Award winner as the top player in Southern California. He helped Servite beat archrival Santa Ana Mater Dei for the first time since 1988 and become the first team to win the Trinity League outright. The Friars also avenged their only loss with a 16-6 victory over Huntington Beach Edison in the Southern Section Pac-5 Division title game.

"It's been very dream-like," said Fajardo, who broke Greg Cicero's single-season school record with 3,562 yards of total offense. "Sometimes I question like, wow, is this really all going on?"

A more pressing question in the wake of such a spectacular season might be: What are college recruiters thinking?

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior has only one scholarship offer, from San Jose State. The lack of interest in a player who will go down in Servite lore alongside former NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Steve Beuerlein infuriates Friars Coach Troy Thomas.

"There's a lot of guys who look the part but can't handle the heat," Thomas said. "He's a guy that gets it done when the pressure is on. I guarantee there's not a better quarterback out there, not a guy you don't want leading your team more than this kid."

Fajardo says it's fine that he is not more heavily recruited and that he was cut after only three episodes of a reality television show featuring eight of the nation's top unheralded quarterbacks. After all, he thrives amid adversity.

With his team needing a score late in a playoff game against Mission Viejo, Fajardo broke a tackle and threw the ball across his body, completing a 48-yard touchdown pass. A week later, when the Pac-5 title game turned into a mud bowl amid a steady downpour, Fajardo threw a touchdown pass and rushed for 95 yards.

"It's kind of crazy," Servite senior guard Nico Espinoza said. "You're thinking that play might not work and all of a sudden he does something with his feet or he breaks tackles."

Fajardo's improvisational skills have become legendary.

"I love it when it works," Thomas said, smiling, "and it works more than it doesn't."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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