Jared Lebowitz, welcome to sunny Southern California.

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.

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Football: La Caada’s Vardanian a “physical specimen”

An offensive lineman isn’t supposed to beat wide receivers in running drills, but that’s what happened at La Caada High School when Marty Vardanian showed up last week for the Spartans’ first official day of practice dubbed “Midnight Madness.”

“It’s a tradition we do,” La Caada coach Dan Yoder said. “We can’t run them for three weeks on dead period because of CIF rules. They show up and when it turns 12:01 on Monday morning we open the gates, turn on the lights and run them.”

La Caada, which tied for second place last year in the Rio Hondo League and lost to Covina in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs, spent an hour running 10 240-yard sprints from one goal post to the other and back, counting as one rep.

“We time them,” Yoder said, “and it’s a chance to prove they did their homework in those three weeks. Usually we get two thirds of the team who get it in the time allotted.”

Vardanian, a senior offensive lineman and middle linebacker, was impressive.

“He showed up to camp just a physical specimen,” Yoder said. “We ran his conditioning test and was beating receivers. He just really stepped up as a leader and with his physical performance. He was ready and it was really impressive.”

The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder will be a left guard and move from the defensive line to middle linebacker, and the reason is simple.

“He’s mobile,” Yoder said. “That he can move is something he’s been working on. We repped him a little bit at middle linebacker but there were other guys who were better suited there. But at the same time we didn’t want to take him off the field so we put him on the defensive line.”

Vardanian is a third-year letterman who started a few games on varsity as a sophomore. The Spartans will need more players to go both ways with a lower than expected turnout for football this season, but Yoder is not overly concerned.

“They’re working really hard and picking up a lot of good reps,” he said. “The guys that have to slip into those open spots have done a really good job so far.”

La Caada, which practices the rest of this week from 6p.m.-9 p.m., has an intersquad scrimmage Saturday followed by a scrimmage against Schurr next week.

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Football: Muir’s Washington-bound Owens focused.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

The phone call came at lunch time in March.

Muir High School’s Tairen Owens was given orders to wait outside for a call from Demetrice Martin, the secondary and cornerbacks coach recruiting Owens to play college football at the University of Washington.

The conversation wasn’t long, but it left a lasting impression on Owens.

Martin extended a scholarship offer to Owens, a shifty and speedy tailback who racked up 822 yards and 10 touchdowns last season while splitting time in the backfield for the Mustangs.
Owens, surrounded by an overflowing crowd, stood motionless except for an obvious expression on his face.

“All I could do was smile,” he recalled.

Owens didn’t need to think it through. He accepted on the spot and ended the recruiting process. The only other school in the mix was Arizona State, where former teammate Karl Holmes Jr., is, but the Sun Devils weren’t ever really in the mix.

“I’m not a real fan of the heat,” Owens said. “I know it rains a lot in Washington, but I can deal with it.”

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Football: Busy summer worthwhile for Jonah Campbell.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

PASADENA — Jonah Campbell had a busy summer, perhaps more so than others.

Because he’s a three-sport athlete at Pasadena Poly, Campbell evenly split his summer schedule so it included football, basketball and baseball.

He spent the first two days of the week working quarterback duties for the Panthers, followed by basketball the next two days. He spent the weekend working with the baseball team, for whom Campbell is a center fielder.

Campbell said his summer schedule was “strenuous” but it paid dividends.

“In the long run it helped me out because the workouts were working out different muscles,” he said. “As football approached, I felt a lot better with my running and my speed.”

Campbell enters his senior year knowing he’s the go-to guy. He was backup quarterback last season to Hunter Merryman, the Star-News Male Athlete of the Year who earned first-team All-CIF honors in three sports.

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