It’s Friday and fantasy football fans everywhere are scouring quarterback rankings to decide who to post this week. The following five are fantasy starters but let's see how their high school careers stack up;
5. Phillip Rivers (Athens HS, Ala.): In 1996, Rivers was the starter on the freshman team at Athens, where his father was the varsity head coach. As a sophomore, Rivers played linebacker on varsity before unseating senior starter Grant Lauderdale at quarterback. He grew six inches heading into his junior year and soon drew college scouts. He completed 109 of 195 passes as a junior and started at safety before emerging as the best quarterback in the state as a senior. He’s worn the number 17 since ninth grade in honor of his father, who wore the same number during his playing days. Rivers’ Chargers play at the Giants Sunday.
4. Peyton Manning (Newman School, New Orleans): In his three seasons as starter, Manning led Newman to a 34-5 record. He was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 1993. As a sophomore he threw 23 touchdown passes, a dozen to his brother Cooper leading to a 12-2 season. He’s called that season one of his favorites of all time. He threw 30 touchdowns passes as a junior and as a senior connected on 63 percent of his passes for 2,703 yards and 39 TDs. Manning’s Colts host the Texans Sunday.
3. Carson Palmer (Santa Margarita HS, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.): Not only did Palmer lead his team to back-to-back Southern Section crowns, but he was standout basketball player as well. Hoops was his first love, in fact. As a junior he passed for 2,152 yards and 25 touchdowns and was rated the No. 6 quarterback in the country heading into his senior year. Despite missing two games to injury, he led SM to its second straight SS title in 1997 by throwing for 2,685 yards and 31 touchdowns. In the title game he threw for a school-record 419 yards and five touchdowns and ran for another. When he left, he had set 23 school records by going 261 of 435 for 4,692 yards, 55 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions in his career. He finished off his high school career by averaging eight points and eight rebounds while leading Santa Margarita to a 32-2 record and state Division II title. He calls that one of his greatest thrills as an athlete. Palmer’s Bengals host the Ravens Sunday.
2. Ben Roethlisberger (Findlay HS, Ohio): A tremendous all-around athlete, Roethlisberger was also team captain of his basketball and baseball teams and wasn’t a quarterback until his senior year. He was a wide receiver because the coach’s son played quarterback. He was Findlay’s starting point guard on the basketball team in 1996 and eventually set the school career scoring record. He made All-District as a .300-hitting shortstop with, of course, a strong arm. He was a reserve quarterback on varsity as a freshman and sophomore, and as a junior caught 57 passes for 757 yards. In his first start at quarterback as a senior, he threw six touchdowns and Miami of Ohio offered him a scholarship the next day. He led the team to a 10-2 record and the second round of the playoffs by passing for 4,041 yards and 54 touchdowns, both state records at the time. Roethlisberger’s Steelers play at the Broncos Monday.
1. Jay Cutler (Heritage Hills HS, Lincoln City, Ind.): He started three years but the last two season he was particularly effective as Heritage Hills went 26-1 including a 15-0 campaign as a senior when the Patriots outscored foes 746-85. He completed 122-of-202 passes for 2,252 yards and 31 touchdowns his senior year and also rushed for 493 yards and 11 TDs. Showing off his athleticism, he intercepted nine passes as a starting free safety. His senior year was capped in grand fashion, a 27-24 overtime win over Zionsville when Cutler actually caught a touchdown pass on a halfback option. It was Heritage Hills’ first-ever 3A state title. Cutler went on to earn All-State honors in basketball and baseball as a senior. Cutler’s Bears host the Cardinals Sunday.
Have some good memories about a professional athlete who attended your high school? E-mail Mitch Stephens at firstname.lastname@example.org.