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The Age of Excellence: Michael Herrick, male athlete of the decade second place

Posted: December 30, 2009 10:18 p.m.
Updated: December 31, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Valencia's Michael Herrick left the school as the state's all-time leader in passing yardage, attempts and completion.

 
The Santa Clarita Valley is known for its quarterbacks.

In the past decade alone, the SCV has produced about a dozen Division I signal-callers. From a budding NFL player in Matt Moore, to a former college star in Nate Longshore and high school champs like Sean Norton, the community has heard its share of quarterback success stories at every level these past 10 years.

But of all these great athletes, one young man stands above all others — statistically, anyway.

No high school quarterback in the state of California, much less the Santa Clarita Valley, has ever thrown the football for as many yards as Michael Herrick. Not the all-time great John Elway, who once held the state passing record. Or even the great high school passer Keith Smith, whose standard was snapped by a football flung from Herrick’s right arm on Nov. 11, 2005. No one ever reached the statistical heights of the former Valencia field general.

Herrick, now the starting quarterback at Northern Arizona University, broke the record in a 34-7 win over Saugus that saw him become the state’s first 10,000-yard passer. He would finish his high school career three weeks later with the number 11,022 appearing next to his name in the record books.

What makes this fact even more remarkable is that Herrick set the record playing for a team that had previously been known for its ability to run the football.

But come Herrick’s sophomore year, the Vikings changed their approach. Former head coach Brian Stiman and current coach Larry Muir, who was then the team’s offensive coordinator, lined their squad up in a spread offense that enabled them to feature their young quarterback.

And Herrick’s career wasn’t defined by just statistical greatness. In his junior season, the Vikings handed Hart High its first Foothill League loss in 65 games. That season ended with an appearance in the CIF-Southern Section Division II championship game, where Valencia lost 49-21 to national No. 1 Mission Viejo and current New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Herrick finished his high school career having led the Vikings to 29 wins and just 10 losses during a competitive three-year stretch that saw an SCV team reach the CIF title game each season.

Michael Herrick wasn’t just a record-breaker in his years at Valencia High, but a winning quarterback, too.

Grant Parpan was The Signal’s Sports Editor from 2004 to 2006.

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