As senior seasons go, Garrett Pendleton’s couldn’t have started any worse.
The 6-foot-5 Bonita High School quarterback was poised to have a big year for one of the area’s most-improved teams before everything changed during practice a week before the Bearcats’ first game.
Pendleton, while carrying out a fake, tripped and landed wrong. The freak mishap resulted in a hairline fracture of the radius bone in his arm.
“When it first happened, I thought I might be done for the year,” Pendleton said. “But it was a good spot to break. They said it would only take me four weeks to get back.
“It was real hard because I never got to play in the San Dimas game. But it made me focus on playing every play like it’s your last because it can be.”
Without Pendleton, the Bearcats rallied around senior backup Greg Spathias.
And despite another costly injury to star receiver/linebacker Casey Horine, Bonita persevered without its star quarterback and best position player to produce a 7-0 record.
Bonita puts its perfect season on the line Friday when it visits West Covina (6-1) in a game that will go a long way in determining the Hacienda League championship and top seed in the Southeast Division playoffs.
Fortunately for the Bearcats, though, Pendleton is back and looking like he hasn’t missed a beat. But it wasn’t easy or fun.
Pendleton attended every Bonita practice as a spectator, then would head to physical therapy. Right on time, he was cleared to play, but with Spathias and the team rolling, Bonita coach Eric Podley was in no rush to get Pendleton game action while he might be rusty.
“It was exciting to see the team doing so well, but also depressing because I know what I can do out there,” Pendleton said. “I’m just glad we survived.
“Our team worked their butts off. Greg stepped in real well. He could start at any other high school.”
Pendleton saw his first action on Oct. 8 against Diamond Bar. He fired three touchdown passes and racked up 225 yards on 12 completions.
“I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous,” Pendleton said. “It was a big deal for me; first game of the year.
“It came back real quick. I think my first throw was for like 40 yards. I thought it would at least take me a game or two to get back in the flow of game situations, but I guess not.”
Pendleton was right back at it the next week, throwing for 198 yards and three more touchdowns against Los Altos.
Last week against Walnut, Pendleton threw for 209 yards and four touchdowns.
So, that’s 10 touchdowns in three weeks. But none was against a team of West Covina’s caliber. Nor was there as much on the line as there will be this week.
Bonita went 3-8 last season. The Bearcats need victories over West Covina, Rowland and Diamond Ranch to go 10-0.
“West Covina is a really good team,” Pendleton said. “They’re really athletic. Their running backs are all studs. They’re going to be a real good test, but we’ll be ready, though.
“I think we can wear them out with our spread. I’m real confident. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be the starting quarterback for a 7-0 team.”