Before season's showdown, QBs compete
ALISO VIEJO, Calif. -- Even before the schools agreed to play Sept. 18 (ESPNU, 10 p.m. ET) at Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.), there were a series of events that connected Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.) quarterback Nick Montana with his Spartans counterpart, Jake Heaps.
Both were named to the ESPNU 150 Watch List for the Class of 2010. Both put up eye-popping stats as juniors: Montana threw for 2,404 yards and 33 touchdowns and led Oaks Christian to a 14-0 record. Heaps led Skyline to its second straight unbeaten season and a No. 13 ranking in the final ESPN RISE FAB 50. Heaps threw for 2,910 yards and 38 touchdowns in 2008, and has tallied 5,843 yards and 66 touchdown passes so far in his prep career.
Both were pursued by major college football programs. In the past two months, each announced his college decision. First, Heaps picked BYU, disappointing many local fans who hoped he'd play for Washington. Then, Montana verbally committed to the Huskies. On Sept. 18, he'll be playing an away game at Skyline -- in front of many fans who will be rooting for him in college.
So it may come as little surprise that these two signal-callers were not only selected to participate in this week's EA SPORTS Elite 11 quarterback camp -- but were paired up as roommates, too.
"I really had no idea he was going to be my roommate here," said Montana, who transferred to Oaks Christian after his sophomore year at national powerhouse De La Salle (Concord, Calif.). "I walked into the room to get my key and everyone started laughing. I knew then that it was going to be Jake."
After Heaps picked up his room key, both players grabbed their phones. Montana sent a text to teammate Zac Stout, a linebacker who will be a future teammate of Heaps at BYU. Heaps sent one to future BYU teammate Kyle Van Noy, who went to McQueen (Reno, Nev.). It just so happened that Stout and Van Noy were together.
"That was probably the funniest part of the whole thing," said Steve Heaps, Jake's father. "Jake texted Kyle and Nick texted Zac at the same time with the same message: Guess who my roommate is?"
Both Montana and Heaps knew of each other before the camp and knew of the other's teammates, particularly because both teams feature Division I-caliber talent. Oaks Christian running back/linebacker Malcolm Jones was in the running to be the state junior of the year, while defensive lineman Cassius Marsh and offensive lineman Erik Kohler are top prospects at their positions.
Heaps' favorite target at Skyline is Kasen Williams, who is arguably the No. 1 junior in the nation.
"I had definitely heard of Kasen," said Montana, the son of legendary NFL QB Joe Montana. "Also, after the game was set up by Coach [Bill Redell], we started hearing more and more about them."
Heaps added, "I had heard about all of them, especially Zac, because we'll both be at BYU next year. They're going to be freakin' loaded."
After two nights, several chalk talks and a trip to the beach, the two quarterbacks were at ease with each other.
"It's been great to finally meet him," Heaps said of Montana. "He's the same type of guy I am. He loves football and can't get enough of it."
Montana added, "It's been a lot of fun. We've been serious in the workouts, but we've been having fun. He's pretty much like I thought he would be."
As for the upcoming game, neither made a prediction, but Heaps said the recent developments -- including being roommates -- have only made the interest surrounding the matchup more intense.
"Who wouldn't want to watch this one?" Heaps said. "Everything surrounding it has been going crazy."
Before Heaps and the Spartans face Oaks Christian, they'll face perennial Oregon power Jesuit (Portland), which could be the top team in the state in 2009. Oaks Christian's best opponent before heading to the Northwest is Alemany (Mission Hills, Calif.), which went 8-4 last year and returns 14 starters.
The quarterbacks said they intend to maintain contact after the game.
"After I committed to BYU and he picked Washington, I saw that we're going to play them three of the next four years," Heaps said. "That's going to make games between us all the more interesting."
Golden Gun update
For the second straight day, Tyler Bray of Kingsburg, Calif., wore the yellow jersey after Wednesday's workout. Bray showed a remarkable ability to hit the 40-yard target and again tallied 18 points. Others who totaled in double figures were Chandler Whitmer with 16 points, Phillip Sims with 13, Heaps with 11, Blake Bell with 11 and Jesse Scroggins with 10. Heading into the final day of the camp, Bray leads Whitmer in overall Golden Gun points with a 39-38 advantage.
Wednesday's workout also featured three NFL quarterbacks -- the Cincinnati Bengals' Carson Palmer and Jordan Palmer, and the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez -- none of whom were able to best Bray in the Golden Gun challenge.
Mark Tennis is the deputy sports editor of ESPN RISE.
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