ELWAY'S IMPACT STILL FELT IN VALLEY MEMORABLE DAYS AT GRANADA HILLS HIGH.Byline: Billy Witz Staff Writer
Near the end of the summer of 1976, a scrawny, knock-kneed, pigeon-toed kid with shaggy blond hair and a toothy grin turned up for football practice at Granada Hills High.
``Little did I know,'' said Scott Marshall, then one of the team's quarterbacks. ``I thought I was going to baby him along. I didn't think he was a threat to me.''
Then John Elway John Albert Elway, Jr. (born June 28, 1960) played American football quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for the Denver Broncos from 1983 through 1998. Elway holds many college and professional records and was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is the only began throwing a football.
It didn't take long before things began to change - beginning with Marshall's position. Soon, word spread beyond the neighborhood of the boy with the cool hand and the rocket right arm. In time, the entire world of football would become well-versed.
Elway's career will culminate Sunday when he is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It's been 25 years since he left the Valley and his stay was brief, but in those three years he established some life-long friendships, learned some valuable lessons and left an athletic legacy that still stands.
A group of about 25 people who spent those years with him in Granada Hills - coaches, players and classmates Classmates can refer to either:
``It feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and kind of surreal,'' said Christopher Sutton Christopher Sutton or Chris Sutton may refer to:
The five years since Elway retired, after winning back-to-back Super Bowl titles with the Denver Broncos, have not been kind.
His father, Jack, his best friend and confidante con·fi·dante
1. A woman to whom secrets or private matters are disclosed.
2. A woman character in a drama or fiction, such as a trusted friend or servant, who serves as a device for revealing the inner thoughts or intentions , died of a heart attack. His twin sister, Jana, died of cancer. His 19-year marriage ended, and some of his business ventures headed south.
At a press conference to announce his election to the Hall of Fame last winter before the Super Bowl, Elway's face looked weathered, his hair thinner and his physique had begun to sag. He no longer resembled the golden boy.
Some friends, including his girlfriend of the past year, B-movie actress Carrie Stevens Carrie Stevens is an American model and actress, born May 1, 1969 in Buffalo, New York. She was Playboy's Playmate of the month in June 1997.
Carrie grew up in Hardwick, Massachusetts and studied Journalism at Memphis State University. , have expressed concern lately about excessive drinking and activity on the party circuit, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. The Denver Post.
``I don't think there's a problem there,'' Elway, who did not respond to several interview requests by the Daily News, told The Denver Post. ``I've never had any run-ins with the law or anything like that. Haven't lost any friendships.
``The thing that's so hard about Denver (is) it's so small. It's like when I do anything, the rumors start. I was here, I met people, I did this, I did that. Those are the things that to me are getting old.''
Elway's days of adolescence represent a time before his life was examined in great detail, a stage when there wasn't much wrong with a boy being a boy - be it chasing girls, hurling lemons and water balloons at cars or jumping off the roof of his house into the backyard swimming pool.
It was a heyday for football in Southern California Southern California, also colloquially known as SoCal, is the southern portion of the U.S. state of California. Centered on the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego, Southern California is home to nearly 24 million people and is the nation's second most populated region, . Many of the middle- class, sports-loving families who fueled the Valley's boom in the 1960s and '70s had their sons in high school.
Four miles away, rival Kennedy was quarterbacked by Tom Ramsey Tom Ramsey (born July 9, 1961 in Encino, California) was a former professional American football quarterback, who played four seasons in the NFL for the New England Patriots. Earlier he played for the Los Angeles Express of the USFL. , who would continue his duel with Elway when they were at UCLA UCLA University of California at Los Angeles
UCLA University Center for Learning Assistance (Illinois State University)
UCLA University of Carrollton, TX and Lower Addison, TX and Stanford, respectively, and in the NFL NFL
National Football League
NFL (US) n abbr (= National Football League) → Fußball-Nationalliga . Malcolm Moore was among several who followed Anthony Davis Anthony Davis can refer to:
Over the hills, Elway faced Palisades Palisades, cliffs along the west bank of the Hudson River, NE N.J. and SE N.Y., extending from N of Jersey City, N.J., to the vicinity of Piermont, N.Y., with a general altitude of from 350 ft to 550 ft (107–168 m). quarterback Jay Schroeder. Further to the south loomed the L.A. City Section powers, Carson and Banning, which boasted players such as future All-Pros Freeman McNeil and Wesley Walker.
``We had some Heisman candidate-type people (in the Valley),'' said recently retired Granada Hills coach Darryl Stroh, then an assistant. ``It was kind of a high point. We've had some good teams since, but there were several good teams in those days.''
When Elway arrived, he came as Jack Elway's son. His father, an assistant coach at Washington State, had been hired as Cal State Northridge's coach and moved into Granada Hills' district so his son could play in the passing offense of Highlanders coach Jack Neumeier.
As a 10th grader, John stood 5-foot-11 and weighed no more than 160 pounds.
``He came in August, right before two-a-days,'' said Paul Scheper, the team's tailback in Elway's first two seasons. ``When we first saw him, you know how seniors and juniors size people up. We look at this guy who's got the baby face, is pigeon-toed and skinny. The first practice he throws 25-yard outs on a line and 70-yard bombs. You saw the talent immediately.''
Marshall, who played youth baseball with Ramsey and worked out with him in the summer, would later be asked by his friend to compare Elway's arm to his.
``Scott would say, `Rams, let's just say you throw a real catch-able ball,'' Ramsey said.
In the years since, countless articles have been written about Valley quarterbacks with Elway-like arms. Or ones who could be the next Elway.
``Every year somebody tries to compare a quarterback to Elway and I just laugh,'' said veteran sportswriter sports·writ·er
A person who writes about sports, especially for a newspaper or magazine.
sports Eric Sondheimer, who has covered high school sports in the Valley since 1976. ``There never has been and probably never will be another one like him. It opens the credibility gap whenever I hear a coach say a guy is another Elway. I think they're delusional.''
Because of his late arrival, his youth and Neumeier's complicated offense, Elway didn't start until midway through his sophomore season. Granada Hills finished 3-6-1, but with a full offseason to prepare and a growth spurt growth spurt Pediatrics A period of rapid growth in middle adolescence; ♀ ↑ ±8 cm/yr ±age 12; ♂ ↑ ±10 cm/yr ± age 14; GS is orderly, affecting acral parts–ie, hands and feet grow before proximal regions, , Elway blossomed as junior.
He passed for a then-Valley record 3,039 yards and 25 touchdowns, none more memorable than his 14-yard pass to Sutton with 13 seconds to play that capped a 40-35 homecoming victory over San Fernando.
Elway threw for 454 yards and drove Granada Hills 68 yards after San Fernando went ahead with 1:32 left. One play before the touchdown, Elway threw a touchdown pass to Sutton that was nullified nul·li·fy
tr.v. nul·li·fied, nul·li·fy·ing, nul·li·fies
1. To make null; invalidate.
2. To counteract the force or effectiveness of. by a penalty.
So they ran the same play again.
``It could have been the opposite,'' Sutton said. ``John throws the ball high or I drop it and we lose. It's very much like every story with him, Mr. Destiny.''
Marshall, on the opposite flank, also had his moment with Mr. Destiny. His catch, on the final play, beat Palisades in a playoff tiebreaker tie·break·er
An additional contest or period of play designed to establish a winner among tied contestants. Also called tiebreak.
``There was never any doubt,'' Marshall said.
Elway, considered the top prep quarterback in the country, was off to a smashing start as a senior. He helped Granada Hills avenge a playoff loss to Banning and was challenging the national single-season passing record of 3,290 yards when a knee injury stopped his season in the sixth game.
The injury healed in time for baseball season, and Elway helped Granada Hills to its second consecutive L.A. City championship by batting .551.
In the title game at Dodger Stadium, he was summoned to pitch the final 4 2/3 innings of a 10-4 victory over Crenshaw cren·shaw also cran·shaw
A variety of winter melon (Cucumis melo var. inodorus) having a greenish-yellow rind and sweet, usually salmon-pink flesh.
[Origin unknown.] . He allowed only an unearned run and struck out Darryl Strawberry, who would soon become the top pick in the major-league draft.
``The tougher the situation, the more comfortable he was,'' said Stroh, who coached Elway in baseball. ``It's where he wanted to be.''
Stroh is confident this quality eased the transition into his new school and created a long-lasting bond with teammates.
Keeping in touch
Elway's visits with them have become less frequent in recent years. They all have gotten on with their lives, made new friends and have new interests.
Yet when they meet up now, such as at a Granada Hills alumni baseball game or when the Arena Football League team Elway co-owns is playing in Los Angeles, it's like old times.
They also see Elway approached for autographs, even at places seemingly immune from star-gazing, such as Sherwood Country Club, where Elway - despite the signs prohibiting autographs - was asked by actress Jane Seymour to sign for her boys. As a result, they're respectful of his privacy.
Stroh says some at Granada Hills were miffed miff
1. A petulant, bad-tempered mood; a huff.
2. A petty quarrel or argument; a tiff.
tr.v. miffed, miff·ing, miffs
To cause to become offended or annoyed. when he refused to use Elway's presence as a fund-raiser when the school named its football stadium after him.
To many, it's a relationship that is not to be abused - and with good reason.
Ten years ago, Scheper's younger brother, Bob - who had been a ball boy at Granada Hills when Elway was there - died of juvenile diabetes juvenile diabetes
Insulin-dependent diabetes. . Elway sent him notes and an autographed poster in the hospital. ``He gave my brother purpose and excitement,'' Scheper said.
Each year at Scheper's golf tournament that raises money for diabetes research, Elway donates a jersey for auction and writes a check.
Years ago, the teammates used to sit in the jacuzzi at Elway's home and talk about someday playing together in the NFL. It's a memory Marshall, Scheper, Sutton and others who have made the trip Canton will recall this weekend.
It's one they figure will bring a smile from Elway, too.
``He's bigger than life, but despite being, quote, bigger than life, he's still plain old John to us,'' Scheper said. ``His giggle, his chuckle is contagious and when we see him it will be like yesterday.
``He's a very grounded, humble person and just by talking to some of us it makes us think of all the fun and games "Fun and Games" is an episode of the original The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 30 March, 1964, during the first season. Opening narration
. It keeps him in touch with something that produced some good memories for him. His friendships that he forged at Stanford and in Denver are just as strong, but those are three years that he just won't forget.''
Billy Witz, (818) 713-3621
7 photos, box
(1 -- 3) Former Granada Hills High star John Elway will be inducted Sunday into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Daily News file photos
(4) Carl Eller
(5) Barry Sanders
(6) John Elway
(7) Bob Brown
PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS of 2004