By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
LA CANADA-FLINTRIDGE – Jared Lebowitz has not played a down of football in Southern California.
But the quarterback has already been projected, by some, to lead St. Francis High School’s football team to places the Knights have not visited in several years.
“He hasn’t played a down of varsity football in Southern California yet and he’s had newspaper articles written about him,” teammate Travis Talianko said. “I think there is pressure on him, but I don’t know if he feels it. I do know he’ll live up to all the hype.”
Lebowitz transferred from South Burlington High in Vermont to St. Francis last January. He has worked extensively with quarterback coach Steve Clarkson.
“He seems like he had been pretty well coached before he got here because he has a very good eye for what I like in quarterbacks,” said St. Francis coach Jim Bonds, who played the position at UCLA. “He is doing great.”
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander left Vermont where there was 3 feet of snow to 60-degree weather in Southern California. He said that while his teammates hit the weight room in sweatshirts and pants, he wore a T-shirt.
His father, Harrison, who owns the Snow Farm Vineyard, which makes ice wines, began doing extensive work in Pasadena and brought his family with him.
CLICK ON THREAD TO CONTINUE READING
“I fell in love with St. Francis on the first day,” Lebowitz said.
Lebowitz passed for 2,700 yards and 30 touchdowns with 13 interceptions last year in Vermont.
But that was in Vermont, where the largest schools have 2,500 students.
“The talent pool is so different,” he said. “There is better competition and I have better teammates here.
“Everyone here is bigger, faster, stronger, but so is my team. The only difference is that kids here train year round. It is a hotbed of talent and a lot better competition. I don’t feel any pressure, as long as I do what I have to do for the team. My dad said I can quit football whenever I want.”
During Tuesday’s drills, receivers ran routes, and for the most part, the ball was exactly where it was supposed to be.
Frequently, coaches would yell, “Catch the ball!” as it glanced off the receiver’s hands.
“Once we got into pads, something inside him turned on,” Talianko said. “He has already brought it to a whole other level. Everybody’s excited.”
It cannot be easy, especially at the high school level, for a high-profile player to suddenly show up at a school and then displace a player who had been gradually working into a starting role.
But that didn’t happen at St. Francis.
“The kids here are unlike any you meet anywhere else,” he said. “The kids here are so great and so welcoming. I wouldn’t feel any more comfortable anywhere else. If I had to redo it all over again, I would pick St. Francis.”
Bonds said Lebowitz’s humbleness, hard work and humor made the transition easy.
“It could have been a problem, but he didn’t ask for anything and he went in and competed,” Bonds said. “He’s proved to these guys that he can play and that earned their respect, also.
“I asked him about the transition last spring. He said for moving 3,000 miles across the country, he could have not seen it going any smoother anywhere else. That’s a credit to the type of kids we have here at St. Francis. This is a welcoming bunch and there is a high priority on brotherhood. They have welcomed him with open arms and he fit right in since Day 1.”
For his part, Lebowitz said he is trying to become a better leader than he was in Vermont.
“I’ve been really trying to become a key part of the team and a leader on the team,” he said. “Last year I was just there, but this year I’m trying to go above the call of duty.
“It was more difficult here than in Vermont because I didn’t know any of these kids. I’ve been asserting myself and everyone has seen how hard I am trying to work. If you work hard and you’re humble about it, you’re accepted here. No problem.”