The last time local fans saw Frankie Palmer on a football field, he was throwing the biggest pass in La Serna High School history.
That was early December and the memories still burn bright. Palmer connected with Matthew Rosales on a 19-yard touchdown pass on fourth down in double overtime to beat Norwalk, 41-38, and win the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championship.
Talk about a dream ending to a stellar career. On Friday night, Palmer will be back in game uniform for the first time since “The Pass” when he leads the East team in the 35th Hall of Fame All-Star game. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at West Covina High.
“I talk about that play with Matt Rosales all the time,” Palmer said while thinking back to the pass that made him a local legend. “It couldn’t have gone any worse throughout the game to make it any better of an ending. If I decide not play in college, I would be totally happy with the way my career ended.”
And that’s the conundrum for Palmer as he prepares for Friday’s game. Like many of his teammates, this might be his last game. Some will go on to play high-level college football. Others will try to extend their playing days at a junior college. Palmer doesn’t know what his future holds.
“This could potentially one of my last football games,” said Palmer, who will officially wrap up his prep career in next month’s 605 All-Star game. “I am looking at it like this could be one of my last football games depending on what happens.”
Palmer has the option of attending Cal-Lutheran and continuing his football career. He also is considering making academics his full focus at either Pepperdine, UC Davis or San Diego St. He will use Friday’s game to see if his football fire still burns bright enough to give it a go in college.
“I think this game and the 605 game will give me the direction for what I want to do the next four years, whether I say ‘football is my life and I can’t let go of it’ or ‘football was fun for high school and now I just want to focus on academics’,” Palmer said.
No matter what he chooses, there’s no denying Palmer has had one of the best prep careers ever witnessed in these parts. He was the starting quarterback on three CIF finalist teams and finished his career by throwing the game-winning touchdown on what turned out to be the final play of a CIF championship game.
Like most football standouts, Palmer is greedy for more victories. He’s hoping to add to his lore by building on the fairy tale ending he had at La Serna with a win in Friday’s game.
“The competitive nature is going to come out of me,” Palmer said. “I’m going to want to win. I’m going to want to lead. I’m going to want to do anything possible in my power to go out and win one of my last games.”
There’s also a sense of camaraderie between the East players that has developed over the past two weeks of practice, according to Palmer. Players often go home after practice and watch each other’s highlight reels online, then come back the next day and talk about it.
The East clearly isn’t the type of group that wants to let their six-game win streak in the series end. One things for certain, if the game is tight late, Palmer has shown that he’s just the person to deliver in the clutch.
“I want to go out there and have fun, but fun is winning,” Palmer said. “I look at this as me going out with some of the top players in the area and being able to do what we do best. The talent is incredible.”