It would be accurate to say Peyton Rottinghaus had a big season.
Before suiting up for the Urbandale (Iowa) J-Hawks the eighth grader wanted to be an even more accurate passer than he was the year before, when he threw 4 interceptions quarterbacking the Johnston Dragons.
Rottinghaus accomplished that goal, completing 23 of 48 passes for 514 yards while connecting for 5 touchdowns. He also rushed for a TD and threw only 1 interception.
“Heading into the season, I wanted to help my team win and mentally, be as close to my teammates as I possibly could be,” Rottinghaus said. “I also wanted to reduce my interceptions, which I was able to do. I was also really pleased with how we bounced back during times of adversity.”
The J-Hawks finished the season with a 3-2 record.
When it was over, Rottinghaus reflected on his eighth year of playing QB. “It’s a challenging position and I like working with the many coaches to become not only a better quarterback, but a person as well,” he said. “I feel like I communicate well with my teammates and coaches well, and my preparation and studying game film has improved. I feel I need to continue to work on extending plays and buy more time to throw.”
Rottinghaus’ year-to-year improvement and impressive passing accuracy are reflections of his six years of training with NFA. “I have learned a lot training with NFA, I’ve learned what steps to take and how to take them,” he said. “Mentally, NFA’s helped me to help my teammates and also helped me outside of football, especially in school.”
After qualifying for the Duel at an NFA immersion camp in Phoenix, Rottinghaus placed third among incoming eighth graders at the international quarterback competition in Atlanta.
“I was pleased placing third,” he said. “It boosted my confidence heading into the season and gave me extra motivation. I hope to improve on the third-place finish in the future if I’m given the opportunity.”
SOCIAL MEDIA INFO:
Before the first game of the season, Colton Becker jammed a finger on his throwing hand and wasn’t able to pass a football. His team, the Seahawks, lost the opener 42-0.
Becker was feeling better in the second game, and so was the offense. Playing quarterback for the Seahawks in the Primetime Flag North Scottsdale 12U, Becker completed 10-of-15 passes and had 3 touchdowns in a 21-6 win.
Feeling much better in the third game of the season, he was 16-of-20 with 5 touchdowns. In the Seahawks’ 42-12 win, Becker also returned an interception for a TD.
“I’m happiest about the team’s improvement and winning games,” he said. “Heading into the season, my personal goal was 20 passing touchdowns.”
Even with the finger injury, Becker is well within reach of attaining his goal. He is also looking to solidify his strengths at QB and work on his shortcomings.
“I think my strength is extending plays,” Becker said. “But I can be better at everything. I’m working on improving my throws when I’m on the run. I also want to get better on deep throws.”
A fifth grader at Kyrene de las Brisas Elementary School in Chandler, Ariz., Becker is also a success in the classroom and is an Honor Roll student. “Doing well in school helps me to read plays and make decisions when I’m playing football,” he said.
Even though he’s a young player, Becker is in his eighth season playing quarterback. “I like playing QB because I get to make decisions on where the ball goes,” he said.
Becker’s ability to make strong, accurate throws paid off at the Duel, where he placed third among incoming fourth and fifth graders. He qualified for the showcase competition at an NFA camp in Scottsdale.
“The Duel was a great booster going into the season,” Becker said. “I feel great that I improved year over year at the Duel. Earning third place was a bonus.”
Becker has improved his overall play by training with NFA the last two years. He has also worked with NFA product Tommy Thornton, who was a college quarterback at Wyoming.
“NFA has helped me with my accuracy through the throwing mechanics and fundamentals,” Becker said. “I can’t wait to get better in the off-season with NFA.”
Ryan Fontaine has been playing quarterback for six years, and he is only 11. That tells you how myuch he enjoys playing the position.
“I like everything about playing quarterback,” Fontaine said. “I really like getting to be the leader on the team. You get to pick everyone up if they get down.”
There have been few, if any, down moments for Fontaine on the football field.
Playing for the Vail Vikings last year in Tucson, Arizona, Fontaine helped his team go 10-0 during the regular season before losing in the city championship game.
“Last season was a lot of fun,” said Fontaine, who threw 10-15 touchdown passes and rushed for 4 more scores.
In addition, Fontaine did not throw an interception, he played middle linebacker and he also blocked a field-goal attempt in the title game. When the season ended, he continued playing for the Tucson Turf travel flag team and NYS flag team.
Fontaine also attended NFA camps for the second straight year. “NFA has really helped me with my throwing,” he said. “And the building men philosophy that they have and the leadership they teach, that is really important to me.”
This summer, Fontaine received his second straight invitation to the Duel in Massillon, Ohio. After failing to place the first time around, he finished third among incoming sixth graders this year in NFA’s showcase event.
“It was just an honor to get invited back to the Duel,” Fontaine said. “It didn’t really matter how well I did, it was just great to be there and it was a lot of fun.”
Considering he finished third against quarterbacks from all over the country, it was a very good trip. “I thought it was amazing,” Fontaine said. “It was a real thrill to be there and to be able to compete. It raised my confidence up a lot and I think it’s going to help me this year.”
Fontaine is prepping for his upcoming season as the starting QB for the Vail Vikings 11U football organization playing in the Tucson Youth Football and Spirit Organization.
“Our team goal is to win the championship,” he said. “I want to improve my leadership and become the best leader can be. I want everybody on the team to be confident in me.”
As for his individual strengths, Fontaine knows the playbook inside and out and he keeps his cool when a play breaks down. “I always try to get out of the pocket and try to keep the play going and try to make something happen,” he said.
NFA coach Casey Donovan also lives in Tucson and he frequently works with Fontaine. “He’s helped me a lot,” Fontaine said. “He’s really helped me with my throwing and he’s helped me learn how to read coverages.”
Stephen Johnson III on fast track
Working with Stephen Johnson III, it didn’t take NFA Director of Player Development Will Hewlett long to realize he was coaching a special talent. “He’s going to be a big-time athlete/player,” Hewlett said. “With his speed and athletic ability, he’s perfect for all the dual threat programs.”
Big-time college programs like Florida State, UCLA, Missouri, Arizona and Cal couldn’t help but sit up and take notice of Johnson during his junior season as quarterback at San Leandro (Calif.) High School. Not only did the 6-foot, 180-pounder pass for 939 yards and 6 touchdowns, Johnson also led the Pirates with 728 yards rushing and 13 more scores.
“As a quarterback, I would say I’m more of an athletic type player,” he said. “We run the Wing-T offense so I can basically run and pass, but it’s more of a running type offense. They put me in the shotgun to make it look different. We have good receivers on my team. A lot of defenses try to play man-to-man on them and that basically leaves me open when that happens. I can read and attack.”
Not only can he attack with his arm and his legs on offense, Johnson can also return punts and kickoffs. He ran back 6 kicks for 226 yards. “I have good speed and I just try to use that to my advantage,” Johnson said.
Need for speed
He’s actually being modest. Johnson has blazing speed and he runs a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 10.82 in the 100. “I run track to make me a better athlete overall,” he said. “I love track but football is my favorite because it’s a team sport. It’s harder work and most people can’t play it because it’s so aggressive.” Johnson’s time at 100 meters ranks in the Top 50 in the state of California.
As college recruiters come calling, Johnson knows he might be asked to switch positions. “I’d say I might be recruited as more of an athlete, probably wide receiver, kick returner, punt returner or a defensive back,” said Johnson, who has a 3.5 GPA. “But I’ve been playing quarterback since I was 8 and I know I can control the game. I’m a part of the game at all times and I like that. I just like to play quarterback.”
Johnson said working with NFA has helped polish his game at QB. “I think Will is a great coach,” he said. “He put me through things and worked with me step by step. He gave me things I didn’t know and I couldn’t do and stuff I need to work on like my throwing motion.”
Good things may come in small packages, but they also come in the form of 6’2, 185-pound QB Matt Jimison. The soon-to-be sophomore is competing for the 2012 starting job at Vista del Lago in Folsom, CA. The Eagles reached the Div. III Sac-Joaquin playoffs last season and defeated Woodland on the arm of Aaron Young.
Jimison fits the same mold as Young in height and weight but also brings dual threat ability to his impressive passing game. Whereas Young was a pure pocket passer, Jimison prides himself on being able to use his legs to make plays.
Without having played a down of varsity ball, he is already receiving Div. I attention from the University of Utah and Arizona State. He traveled to display his talent for coaches at both schools and claims the workout with the Sun Devils progressed especially well.
Since finishing 2007 as the 10th-best team in the country and being co-conference champions, Arizona State has fluctuated around the .500 mark and would love a player of Jimison’s caliber to bring them back to prominence in the expanded Pac-12.
Utah saw a step up in competition when they joined the same conference last season, finishing with a 7-5 record. They are a few seasons removed from a perfect season and BCS bowl win and hope to be back in the national spotlight soon.
To reach the level these schools are counting on, Jimison makes a two hour trek about once a week for both personal and group training sessions with NFA quarterback coach William Hewlett. They’ve teamed up for the past year and a half, and the results speak for themselves with all the consideration Jimison is seeing.
As for the upcoming season, he is enthusiastic about the offensive weapons already around him. Out of the backfield, Josh Pfeffer was second on the team in rushing as a sophomore and still has two years ahead of him. And with a young core of receivers to deliver the ball to, Jimison and Vista del Lago might very well control the Sierra Valley Conference for the next few years.
A turning point, so to speak.
Tom is a sophomore who started at quarterback at Ponderosa High School, a 5A program in Parker, Colorado. Tom set out this year to prove that he has what it takes to be a legitimate high school starter and a solid collegiate prospect. He did just that last season starting every game for the Mustangs in 2009. So what is the big deal? Today is his last day at the school. For a high school sophomore, that is a very big deal.
Tom’s father Jim owns a second home in the Phoenix, Arizona area which is about to become the family’s first home. The house in Franktown, CO will go up for sale soon after the Thornton’s move out and head to Arizona. Almost everyone can understand that in this economy a lot of shrewd business people like Mr. Thornton are downsizing, consolidating, and cutting back expenses to keep their heads above water. Jim had sold several cars he had collected during more prosperous times as a safety measure for what looks to be a longer ride in this economy than was projected.
When asked about his perspectives regarding the change, Jim said, “Obviously moving is a big decision for our family. We discussed it, prayed about it and did what we thought was best for everyone, no matter how hard it is. Sometimes you only have one shot at hitting the goal, we understand the risks and the possible upside. If Tom keeps doing was he’s doing, we’ve got faith that it will work out well for our family.”
It is time to move on for the Thornton’s and tomorrow they hit the road, Tom Thornton in tow.
Thornton is headed to Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Arizona and will compete for the QB job for the Padres who made it to the Arizona state football championships last season. Their quarterback graduates this May creating a competitive opportunity in the Padres roster. A seemingly nice coincidence. But Jim Thornton knew that changes were needed and opportunities were available. The family was moving and the time came to look for a new school at which the young QB could flourish in “Mind, Body and Spirit”. Marcos de Niza was the choice.
About six weeks ago Tom Thornton told his football coach at “Pondo”, Randy Huff, that he was moving to Arizona. Coach Huff had to have felt a hole in his stomach as his football team has had its challenges over the last few years. His Mustang football team has been stuck in mediocrity from a 2003 state championship and continuous state playoff berths to now an average program with many questions. From a coaches perspective, Thornton was a bright spot, one of the best rated QB’s in the state. He was a ticket out of the hole that his team has slipped into. An interesting note; Tom’s dad Jim was his quarterback coach at Ponderosa. He resigned to move on as well. So Coach Huff had to swallow double hard when the “Thornton’s” quit Ponderosa High School altogether.
Tom Thornton is, if you pardon the dirty word around school administrators, a “transfer”. And now the voices bellow through the rumor mill.
“It’s a football move.”
“No, dad has to move so Tom has to go.”
“They are running from Pondo just to play football at a better football program.”
“I hear he is going to a better school.”
“Dad has to sell the house and Tommy has to go with the family.”
“I think it is b…s…t.”
“If it were my son, I’d do the same thing.”
“I wish them well.”
“Pondo is sunk without Tommy.”
“Pondo is better off without them.”
Tom Thornton has heard them all over the last several weeks. He has one strength coach who has tried to make his life in the school as hard as possible. He has other coaches who hug him as he walks the weight room and the hallways. Coach Huff has been supportive and friendly. In the Colorado High School Activities Association Policy Manual this is what would be called a “bona fide move”. Teammates have mixed feelings. The fact is that none of it matters much. As of today, Tom Thornton will transition from a Mustang to a Padre.
The transfer for Tom is simple. “It is time to move on. Marcos de Niza is a place where I can prepare to play at the next level…get a great education and be with my family.” What about the folks at Pondo? “It is hard to leave friends, step out of the comfort zone and move from home. It is what it is and I’m ready for the change and the challenge.”
Tom Thornton is all business right now…going to school, studying and working his tail off in the weight room and on the track. He has gone from a season ending weight in the high 170’s to 199 lbs. in just a few months. His speed and strength have increased substantially. Simply put, Tom Thornton is well into his collegiate development. In football terms, another ten pounds of muscle mass and Tom Thornton will be “a stud”. Tom has taken full advantage of the ProspecTRAK developmental program and he is walking through the door as a ProspectFIT collegiate recruit.
Is this transfer a football move? Is this transfer academic? Is it a family necessity? The answer is “yes”! In a time where transfers go under extreme scrutiny by the state high school athletic associations, Tom Thornton and his family will be under the microscope. They will be labeled and some opposing team(s) will cry “foul” if Tom does the damage he is perfectly capable of inflicting on his opponents. He will have to do the fire walk through the gauntlet that has been laid down for a transfer these days which, to this reporter, is a complete violation of the supposed purpose of educators. That purpose…to do what is best for the student-athlete. In the world of high school athletics the rules to protect the football coach and the school go well beyond the best interest of the athlete and the rights of the family to choose what is best for their son or daughter.
In the meantime, Tom Thornton is a strong young man in every aspect of his student athleticism. He will be just fine.
We were lucky enough to first meet Dylan at our performance camp in Arizona this past April. He quickly impressed the entire coaching staff with his work ethic and willingness to get better. Dylan showed off his many talents, displaying a extremely strong arm as well as very accurate through all the events.
His coach has provided an evaluation of Dylan and we agree with it 100%
Coaches Evaluation for Dylan Swartz
Arm Strength/Accuracy- Dylan’s physical tools are special for a young man his age. He consistently has shown the ability to accurately deliver the football. He has also proven that he can make very difficult throws. The 18 yard comeback, 15 yard dig, and 12 yard out are staples of our offense and Dylan makes these throws time and again. He also throws the deep ball with wonderful touch and accuracy.
Knowledge of Game/Coverages-Our passing game at Central Catholic is fairly complex for the high school level. I expect my qb’s to make both full and half field reads. Our route progressions typically include 3 or 4 options. Dylan repeatedly has made it to his third and fourth options when the first ones are taken away. He has also mastered the horizontal stretch and high/low reads which are what our passing game is predicated. His recognition of coverages is uncanny for a young man his age. He prepares well from week to week and uses film study to his advantage working side by side with me.
Physical Tools- As a 16 year young man, Dylan is blessed with great size and strength. He is a legitimate 6’3” and after the season weighed in at 200 pounds. His commitment to the weight room will most certainly have him near 220 pounds at the start of the 2009 season. I am a stickler on footwork and Dylan’s, three, five and seven step drops are very advanced. His drop is fluid and his delivery motion and release are quick.
Work Ethic-Dylan is a highly self motivated individual. He works at every aspect of his game trying for perfection. He constantly is asking me for new drills that he can use to better himself as a qb. He has a passion to succeed and accepts nothing less. At times his want to succeed can lead him to become frustrated, however these times are few.
Straight Line Speed-If I had one knock on Dylan it would be his straight line speed. He is not going to set any records running a 40-yard dash. However, during the season he did at times run the ball with some success. He picked his spots to run, got what he could and then got down. I know that aspect of his game is one he is going to work hard on to improve this offseason. He has begun working with a speed coach so I imagine that his times should improve.
Dylan Swartz, in my opinion, is a special talent. He combines a mix of hard work, physical blessings, and a desire to win to be a very effective quarterback. Having played beyond college myself, I take pride in knowing what it takes to make it at the next level. Dylan will undoubtedly succeed at the next level.
Frank Borba (209) 918-5504 email:FBooBorba@aol.com
QB Coach/Passing Game Coordinator
Central Catholic High School, Modesto, CA
Here is some information on Dylan
Grad. Date 2010 Head Coach: Roger Canepa
Height: 6’3” Central Catholic
Weight: 220 200 South Carpenter Rd.
40 Time: 4.9 Modesto, Ca. 95351
Bench: 285 (209)254.9611 Cell(209)404.7860
Press: 250 QB Coach: Frank Borba (209)918.5504
Squat: 385 E-Mail:
Athletic Strengths & Honors
2008 Varsity Football – All League first team QB, “Player of the week” Dec. 4 , Modesto Bee
2057 passing yards, 22 td, 8 int, 143 comp. 232 att./55 rushing yards,1 td. 9 att.
All Section; Honorable mention QB, Central Catholic team “Outstanding Back Award”