By Bill Tamburrino
The Bear Down Passing Tournament was more than just a passing league tourney for the Bulldog Passing League team.
Travis Stevens lettered last season as the backup quarterback for the Bulldog football team and was heir apparent for the starting job in the fall. Stevens took most of the snaps during spring, had a good spring and had a good showing at the first passing league tournament at San Diego State.
Then Coach Damon Baldwin received a phone call last week. He knew it was bad news when the caller, Ramona High School Principal Tony Newman, asked him if he was sitting down.
Stevens had broken his leg while working on his basketball skills. It was a bad break for Stevens and the Bulldogs.
Stevens broke the two bones in his lower right leg and the prognosis for the injury is up in the air.
“If I have surgery and they insert a metal rod, I can possibly be back in eight to 10 weeks,” he said. “If the doctors decide not to put in the rod, I could be out for six months. I am hoping for the rod.”
Hunter McHargue, last year’s junior varsity quarterback, was pressed into action. Ironically, McHargue missed much of spring QB camp because he was coming off a hamstring injury. McHargue took some snaps at the San Diego State Tourney and is still getting familiar with the offense.
“We will be OK at quarterback,” Baldwin told his team after the Bear Down Tourney. “We have to be more physical and we have to learn our assignments on both sides of the ball so that we don’t have to think about them and so that we just react.”
Baldwin is optimistic about McHargue.
“He has a very strong arm and he is a competitor,” said Baldwin. “He has to learn his reads better and that will come with the repetitions he will get in the passing league games.”
The Bulldogs are putting in a new defense, Baldwin continued, “and we have a quarterback still learning our complete offense. Summer will help us. We scheduled three tournaments and canceled some Tuesday/Thursday games to work on our strength and conditioning. There are more reps in tournaments, and more learning takes place.”
McHargue’s improvement at the Bear Down Tourney can be measured. Ramona lost to Cathedral Catholic 34-12 in pool play and then played the Dons in bracket play. The Dawgs lost 26-20 but had a touchdown pass from McHargue to Josh Mahaffey nullified because it was ruled that McHargue released the pass .01 of a second too late. The TD would have tied the game and given the Dawgs a chance to take the lead in the final minutes of play.
Ramona opened the tournament with a 26-6 loss to Murrieta Chaparral High School from the Southern Section. The Dawgs then beat Huntington Beach Marina High School 27-25. The Dawgs also lost to Horizon High School 38-19 in bracket play.