Quarterback Jonathan Jerozal and receiver Drew Wolitarsky are rewriting the football record book at Canyon High School.
Jerozal broke the record for career touchdown passes last week against Saugus. He threw three touchdowns against the Centurions and has 62 in his career, breaking the mark of 61 set by Nate Longshore from 2001 to '03.
“I knew I was coming up on it,” Jerozal said. “I wasn’t sure how many I needed. I wasn’t really paying that much attention to it. It’s an amazing feeling, such a feat to hold that record now.”
Wolitarsky set the school receiving and touchdown reception marks this season. He has 3,049 receiving yards and 28 touchdown catches over his career. Sean Coen held the old records of 2,600 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns playing at the same time as Longshore.
Jerozal needs 157 passing yards to break Longshore’s career passing record of 6,789 yards.
The senior quarterback looks back on his career as one of good fortune and opportunity. His coach said Jerozal turned what was a tumultuous time in the football program into a reason to celebrate.
Jerozal was forced into the starting quarterback role as a sophomore, probably a little before he was ready to take over the offense, because several players, including the quarterback, quit the team.
“Bringing Jonathan up, I think we all knew he could play at that level,” Canyon coach Rich Gutierrez said. “Coming in, although he was somewhat young, I think Jonathan had been preparing his whole life to be a quarterback. We were very aware of his natural ability and his instincts. Sometimes, sadly, through unfortunate events, you actually get something that comes out to be just a beautiful thing.”
Canyon, which won a CIF state bowl game in 2003, had one of its worst seasons in 2009, Jerozal’s sophomore season. The Cowboys went 2-9 and missed the playoffs. Jerozal finished his sophomore season with 2,124 passing yards with 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Was he asked to be the starting quarterback at Canyon too soon?
“Sophomore year, if you asked me this question, I would be speechless,” Jerozal said. “Once our previous quarterback had quit and I was just thrown in there, it was like, all right, make do with what I got. I just went out and did the best I could. Having that extra year of experience has helped me tremendously. Everything is just easier. The game’s slowing down a lot. I am just thankful for that opportunity that I had.”
Jerozal was in part responsible for a remarkable turnaround for the Canyon football team. He guided the Cowboys to a 10-2 record in his junior season and passed for 3,048 yards with 32 touchdowns.
“It was a very difficult year for us football wise, but I think it was a great year for Jonathan’s growth,” Gutierrez said about Jerozal’s sophomore season. “I think he only got stronger and he developed some chemistry with the receivers that were here. Drew was on that team as well and he was a freshman. Looking back on it, it was an unfortunate event. But it just blossomed into a stronger approach.”
Wolitarsky caught two touchdown passes against Saugus last week, giving him nine this season and the school record for touchdown catches. Wolitarsky, a junior, has caught 37 passes for 804 yards this season.
Wolitarsky has another year left of high school football. There’s no telling what his career statistics will look like and Gutierrez doesn’t want to put any limits on his abilities.
“You almost don’t want to set a ceiling for him,” Gutierrez said. “You want him to shatter anything that he can. He has gotten stronger every year, beginning with his freshman year. He has been doing some fantastic things, obviously breaking Sean Coen’s record, and Sean Coen was just a phenomenal athlete here at Canyon High. He was a star.”
Jerozal is putting up some huge numbers at Canyon. The team is averaging nearly 50 points a game and Jerozal has thrown for 1,461 yards with 19 touchdowns and only four interceptions in six games. He is averaging 243.5 passing yards per game. He needs only 157 more passing yards to break Longshore’s record and should be able to get that Friday night against Valencia.
“I want to take that yards record too, as well,” Jerozal said. “I just want to set new standards. I just want to be better than I was the year before.”
Wolitarsky is averaging 134 receiving yards per game and is on pace for an 1,100-yard season.
“With Drew having another year, that’s such a blessing,” Gutierrez said. “It’s fun to watch him play. You don’t want to put limitations on him because he plays the game free. He just lets the natural instinct come to him.”