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FEELING FINE ON LINE HEALTHY QUALE MOVES TO OFFENSE FOR VALENCIA.

Byline: Gerry Gittelson Staff Writer

VALENCIA - Minor injuries and a severe case of strep throat ruined Travis Quale's football season last year.

But the Valencia High lineman has vowed not to lose his senior season, and he's healthy, happy and hoping to make the most of his final opportunity.

``This year, I really feel like I have something to prove,'' Quale said.

Quale appears to be on the right track.

The 6-foot-3, 280-pounder is the biggest player on the team and also the strongest, bench-pressing a school-record 345 pounds. He also worked with a private trainer over the summer, trimming his 40-yard time from 5.6 seconds to 5.3.

``I've got a lot more agility now, I'm quicker, and I've got more pick-up speed,'' he said.

As a result, Quale has switched from defensive line to the offensive line, where he will try to protect heralded quarterback Michael Herrick, who passed for 397 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-7 victory over visiting Bishop Amat of La Puente last Friday.

``I thought I'd give offense a try,'' he said.

Fellow lineman Joey Miulli, the team's top returning blocker, believes Quale is developing nicely.

``He's doing good. It takes time, but he's picking things up,'' Miulli said.

Coach Brian Stiman said he switched Quale to offense because he thinks the lineman's ability and attitude fit best there.

``Travis has got a lot of potential, and he's worked very hard in the offseason,'' Stiman said.

Quale also is a team player. While most of Valencia's linemen made other plans during Valencia's 7-on-7 passing tournaments, Quale preferred to root for his teammates - even though he knew there was no way he would get into a game to catch a pass.

``He's probably the nicest, kindest young man you'll ever come across,'' Stiman said.

He's certainly got an appreciation for football after his illness last season hospitalized him.

``It was a really bad case of strep throat. They needed to put me on an I.V. and everything,'' he said.

Besides his size and strength, Quale has another advantage over most linemen. He's naturally athletic like his older brother, Spencer, who played varsity baseball for Valencia in 2001.

As for the future, Quale wants to continue playing football. For now, there are no other plans.

``I think I've probably got a shot to play in college. That's what I want to do,'' he said.

Gerry Gittelson, (661) 257-5218

gerry.gittelson(at)dailynews.com

GAME OF THE WEEK

CANYON (1-0) at BURROUGHS (1-1) of Ridgecrest 7 p.m.

Player to watch: Karsten Sween, QB, Burroughs

One of California's top prospects, Sween has passed for 536 yards (completing 47.5 percent of his passes) and six touchdowns this season after leading Burroughs to the Southern Section Div. VIII final last year.

Outlook: After scoring 55 points in a relatively easy victory over Leuzinger of Lawndale last week, Canyon figures to be be in for a more difficult test. Burroughs has the advantage of having played an extra game, hanging tough in a 38-26 loss to state power St. Bonaventure of Ventura on Sept. 3 before defeating Tehachapi 47-13 last week.

Despite the presence of new starters at key positions on both sides, Canyon appears similar to last year's team - extremely productive on offense but vulnerable on defense. Against Leuzinger, a Div. X team that won three games last year, Canyon averaged more than 11 yards per play. But the Cowboys allowed unheralded Jaycen Taylor to rush for 276 yards and four touchdowns.

Nevertheless, Canyon figures to be a slight favorite. Quarterback Will Brogan did a fine job replacing Nate Longshore (now at Cal), completing 9 of 10 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown. Justin Williams rushed for 198 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries, and Dejon Negron caught four passes for 69 yards and also had several long kick and punt returns.

ST. BONAVENTURE (2-0) vs. HART (1-0) at College of the Canyons 7:30 p.m.

Player to watch: Bubba Hetman, LB, Hart

Hetman had a rough night during a loss to St. Bonaventure of Ventura last year but rebounded to total more than 100 tackles and earn first-team All-Foothill League honors. This year, he's a senior leader and his job is to help stop Matt Lee, St. Bonaventure's all-state running back.

Outlook: Two of California's annual powers collide in an attractive, much-anticipated matchup, as Hart enters No. 3 and St. Bonaventure No. 10 in this week's Cal-Hi Sports state rankings. St. Bonaventure has won 70 of its past 72 games, including a 41-34 victory over Hart last year that wasn't as close as the score indicates. Defending Div. II champion Hart has won eight section titles, including six since 1996, and the team has appeared in six consecutive section finals, winning five.

Hart's game plan is simple: The team must contain Lee, an All-American prospect who rushed for more than 2,000 yards last year and scored four touchdowns in the victory over Hart. This season, Lee has rushed for 306 yards and six touchdowns.

Hart looked great on offense and so-so on defense in a 55-20 victory over Moorpark last week. The team allowed Moorpark's Daniel Wolverton to rush for 217 yards, a scary thought for a defense hoping to contain such a dangerous breakaway threat as Lee.

Meanwhile, St. Bonaventure figures to have problems of its own stopping Hart. In his first start last week, Tyler Lyon passed for 343 yards and accounted for four touchdowns as Hart amassed 552 yards. Running back Bryan Toledo (knee) and wide receiver Evan Surratt (back), both of whom are key starters, are probable.

SAUGUS (1-0) vs. PASADENA (0-1) at Pasadena City College 7 p.m. at College of the Canyons

Player to watch: Darus Nua, PK, Saugus

Nua, on loan from the soccer team, must reach the end zone on kickoffs because Pasadena's Andrew Bell returned two kickoffs for touchdowns last week. The one time Nua didn't kick the ball into the end zone against Blair of Pasadena last week, Saugus allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Outlook: Saugus, hoping to rebuild after consecutive two-win seasons, has a good chance to improve to 2-0 in coach Jason Bornn's second year if the team continues to execute, doesn't commit turnovers and hustles on defense.

Quarterback Travis Babin, splitting time with Zach Summers this season although he's a three-year starter, was sharp last week. He was 6 of 7 for 73 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown. He also had an interception on defense.

Pasadena has injury problems. Bell, the team's only productive player last week, was injured in the third quarter, and his status isn't clear. Quarterback Deontay Williams (broken thumb) is out indefinitely, and standout running back Darrell Bailey is questionable after missing the opener.

VALENCIA (1-0) at BIRMINGHAM (0-1) 7 p.m.

Player to watch: Brian Malette, PK, Valencia

Perhaps the region's most improved kicker, Malette recorded a touchback on every kickoff during last week's 45-7 victory over Bishop Amat of La Puente, and he also made a field goal and was 6 of 6 on PATs.

Outlook: Plenty of skill-position talent will be on display, but Valencia is deeper on both sides and figures to have an advantage.

Valencia quarterback Michael Herrick was nearly unstoppable against Bishop Amat, passing for 397 yards and accounting for five touchdowns. He's difficult to harass because he takes a deep drop out of the shotgun formation and likes to send five receivers on short patterns. With such a strong arm and a good feel for open targets, he completes a lot of passes. He was 29 of 44 last week.

Valencia appears to have an improved defense, led by linebackers Torrey O'Brien and Gary Cox, and quick defensive backs Shane Morales and Joe Hernandez.

SANTA CLARITA CHRISTIAN (1-0) vs. HESPERIA CHRISTIAN (1-0) 4 p.m. Saturday at First Lutheran High

Outlook: The good news for SCC is standout running back Orlandi Pena, who injured his ankle in last week's victory at Cal Lutheran in Wildomar, has recovered and should start.

Hesperia Christian is coming off a 48-0 victory over Rolling Hills Prep in a game shortened to two quarters because of eight-man football's mercy rule. The team should expect a much more difficult test against Santa Clarita Christian, a section finalist in 2003.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos, 4 boxes

Photo:

(1) Valencia senior lineman Travis Quale says he has something to prove after being hindered last season by injuries and illness.

(2) Valencia kicker recorded a touchback on every kickoff last week against Bishop Amat.

David Crane/Staff Photographer

Box:

(1) FIRST AND 10

(2) GAME OF THE WEEK (see text)

(3) TODAY'S GAMES (see text)

(4) INSIDE THE NUMBERS
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 17, 2004
Words:1464
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