- By Tom Shanahan, San Diego Hall of Champions
St. Augustine quarterback Jason Forcier hoped to show college recruiters he’s more than a running quarterback — the reputation he gained playing in Santa Ana Mater Dei’s run-oriented offense — in his senior year with the Saints.
So how does he explain all his long touchdowns this year? He had a 52-yard run to set up a touchdown against El Capitan, touchdown runs of 99 and 66 against San Pasqual), 20 and 39 against Mission Bay and 65 and 19 against Helix for the 3-1 Saints, ranked No. 7 in the San Diego Section and No. 6 in CalHiSport.com’s state Division III poll.
One reason is he’s thrown nine touchdown passes to only one interception while completing 50-of-76 (.685) passes for 817 yards (204.3 average). Teams are playing the pass against him, despite his running threat.
“I’m always looking for the pass first, but defenses are playing the pass,” Forcier said. “Sometimes there’s no one within 15 yards, so I just say I’ll get the first down.”
But Forcier, who possesses sprinter’s speed, has been breaking some of those first-down runs into big gainers.
- By Tom Shanahan, San Diego Hall of Champions
Jason Forcier has moved around a little while growing up in Southern California, including commuting by 60-minute train trips from his family’s San Diego County home in Carlsbad to Orange County’s Mater Dei High in Santa Ana as a freshman.
Forcier’s family later moved closer to Mater Dei, where he was the starting quarterback for one of the state’s elite programs. But now he’s back in San Diego for his senior season after transferring last spring to St. Augustine. This time he’s traveling more conventionally, by automobile, to school.
“Some mornings I would fall asleep on the train and I’d miss my stop,” Forcier said. “I’d have to call someone at school to come get me or I would try to talk the lady on the train into letting me ride back the other way for free.”
Now, as a Division I-A prospect, he has a bigger move in mind for next year than a train trip. Forcier wants to play Big Ten football, having grown up fascinated with the atmosphere as the son of a Big Ten fan from Birmingham, Mich., a Detroit suburb.
“I love watching Big Ten football with my dad,” Forcier added. “It’s such a way of life back there and it would be fun to be a part of it. I think of Notre Dame as Big Ten football because they play so many games against Michigan State and Michigan.”
Forcier, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder, has received recruiting interest from Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame. But his early scholarship offers are from UCLA, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming and UTEP.
He played in a ball-control offense at Mater Dei in which he often ran the ball, but he’ll be a dual threat at St. Augustine because the Saints play a spread passing game.
“College coaches are really intrigued with his ability to run,” St. Augustine coach Jerry Ralph said. “Jason is an unbelievable athlete with a great combination of speed and agility. His primary focus has been as a running quarterback, but he’ll be a very efficient passer in our offense. He’s going to be hard to defend.”
Forcier’s transfer was too late in the spring for him to be eligible for track season, but a year earlier as a sophomore he showed his speed when he ran times of 10.8 seconds (wind-aided) in the 100 meters and 22.3 in the 200.
He has been introducing himself to his new teammates during summer league passing games, but he likes to consider his senior year a homecoming. Forcier grew up in San Diego, where his parents have long owned San Diego Limo Buses and Limosines in the Sports Arena area, before moving to Carlsbad and eventually choosing to attend Mater Dei.
“Everyone says I’m from Mater Dei, but I tell people I played Pop Warner in Clairemont, Kearny Mesa and Carlsbad,” said Forcier, referring to two communities within the San Diego city limits, while Carlsbad is a North County high school power. “I probably know San Diego better than a lot of my teammates. I’ve helped my parents in their limo business, so I know a lot about giving directions.”
Forcier will be trying to map out a route back to Qualcomm Stadium for St. Augustine to the CIF San Diego Section Division III championship game. The Saints have finished as the runner-up the past two years to Marian Catholic.
“He’s fit in great here,” Ralph said. “Mater Dei is a private Catholic school, too. He almost came here as a freshman. He’s comfortable with the guys and he’s taken to our offense.”
Although Forcier frequently ran the ball at Mater Dei, Ralph is sticking with the spread offense his teams have played while putting up prolific numbers at Santana and St. Augustine. Among Ralph’s college-bound quarterbacks have been Santana’s D.J. Busch (Colorado State and Cornell) and St. Augustine’s Richard Kovalcheck (Arizona).
Forcier wants to show he throws well enough to be recruited as a mobile quarterback who can play in a drop-back offense.
“I know I have doubters who have labeled me a running quarterback,” Forcier said. “I’m looking forward to showing I can pass the ball. I want to learn as much as I can about the passing game. I think we can be extremely successful this year because my teammates are working hard.”
Ralph, who grew up in the area, graduating from University of San Diego High in 1980, went as far as to say he’s never seen a San Diego prep quarterback with Forcier’s combination of running and passing ability. Ralph played in college at the University of San Diego and has been an assistant at Grossmont and USDHS in addition to his tenures as a head coach at Santana and St. Augustine.
Forcier’s transfer to St. Augustine could be considered by many a step down. There is a difference in the level of football between Mater Dei, where a big game with Long Beach Poly or Concord De La Salle can draw 15,000, and St. Augustine, a school that plays at San Diego’s Division III level.
“I don’t see it as a step down for me,” Forcier said. “San Diego football is competitive. It all comes down to how much you learn, and I’ve learned a great deal from Coach Ralph and (assistant) coach (Dick) Van Raaphorst. I’m learning about progressions, and they’ve corrected some things in my throwing motion.”
Forcier’s knowledge of San Diego football includes his middle-school years when he lived in Carlsbad. Among his favorite players were Carlsbad’s Brian Guiterrez, a three-year starter at quarterback, and Fallbrook’s Donny Lucy, a linebacker who went on to Stanford on a baseball scholarship and is now a catcher in the Chicago White Sox minor league system.
Among his friends from Carlsbad whom he still talks with is Sean Canfield, the Oregon State-bound quarterback who is back for his third year at Carlsbad’s starter. In fact, Forcier and Canfield played on the same Pop Warner team in eighth grade. Forcier was bigger and more athletic at that age, so he was the quarterback while Canfield was a receiver and defensive end.
“But I always knew Sean could be a Division I college quarterback,” Forcier said. “He has a great touch on the ball. If I had stayed at Carlsbad, maybe the coach would have played both of us. But if one of us had to beat out the other, it would have been good competition and we would have both said, ‘Let the best man win.’ ”
But there is still a Forcier on the roster at Carlsbad. Jason’s younger brother, Chris, is a sophomore quarterback for the Lancers after also transferring from Mater Dei.
“One of the reasons I’m glad I’m playing in San Diego again is it was hard for my parents to make it to my games in Orange County while running a business in San Diego,” Forcier said. “I want to go away to school, and I’d love to play in the Big Ten. So my senior year is a chance for them to make it to all of my games.”