Above: Monrovia QB Blake Heyworth commands the offense brilliantly.
It only seemed that out of nowhere came a quarterback battle for the starting spot at Monrovia High School.
It almost was a given that upon Nick Bueno’s graduation George Frazier V would take over. There was no question the highly touted junior had the skills and, most important, leadership.
Over the summer Blake Heyworth transferred from St. Francis. The junior quarterback’s arrival didn’t immediately turn the position situation into a battle, at least not yet.
Heyworth, for one, was recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder. He not only still was learning the offense but he was not cleared for a hardship waiver from the CIF-Southern Section.
It was quite the conundrum for Maddox – give Frazier all the first-team snaps over the summer and into fall camp until Heyworth was cleared, or prepare Heyworth just in case.
Maddox, leading Monrovia to its third consecutive trip to the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division finals on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against San Gabriel, took the latter route. Frazier shared reps with Heyworth over the summer, but it was clear Frazier still was expected to start.
“Until Blake got cleared he understood that George was going to get most of the reps with the first team,” Maddox said. “If he wasn’t cleared George would have been our quarterback. It was one of those things where we didn’t know what was going to happen so we had to wait.”
Heyworth wasn’t fazed and gradually began taking hold of the offense, but the season was fast approaching and Heyworth still wasn’t cleared by CIF. It was becoming clear Frazier would start in the season opener against Glendora. That week, just days before breaking ground on the 2011 season, Heyworth was cleared.
The quarterback battle now was official.
Heyworth’s hardship waiver paved the way for an daily battle at practice. Heyworth, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder, did not play against Glendora and saw limited time in a loss to Arcadia. Then, in Week 3, Heyworth got the nod against San Dimas and passed for 202 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-14 loss.
The following week wasn’t kind either, a 34-30 loss to South Hills. Heyworth then engineered an impressive comeback against Paramount the following week by passing for 396 yards and six touchdowns in a 40-36 win.
Monrovia is 7-0 since, and Heyworth clearly has taken command of a unit that has dismantled defenses in the playoffs. Whittier Christian, for example, gave up 67 points. Heyworth has passed for 2,276 yards and 24 touchdowns against just four interceptions.
Maddox’s “just in case” approach paid off.
“Their strength coming out was their leadership ability,” he said. “Heyworth’s got it. Whatever it is. He has an amazing touch and is a great student of the game. He sees the field very well usually putting the ball in the right spot.
“You can see the improvements, and as a coach you like to see the progress. We’re gonna be very fortunate to have him back next year.”