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Perseverance

Former Canyon High quarterback refuses to give up on his dream, landing a scholarship to play

Posted: January 18, 2009 9:50 p.m.
Updated: January 19, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
It has been a little over three years since Austin Civita and Canyon High defeated Hart, 21-13 to win the CIF-State title in 2005.

Now, Civita has three days to prepare for his latest opportunity.

After spending time at the College of the Canyons and Santa Barbara City College, Civita has landed a scholarship to play at Southern Arkansas University.

When others might have given up, he kept pushing, refusing to let is dream die.

"I lead by example," Civita says. "I don't talk - I do. I think everyone was able to follow that."

It was a mindset cultivated following their 27-34 loss to Simi Valley on Sept. 23, 2005.

Civita credits then-head coach Harry Welch for rallying the team and refusing to allow them to let up on their season.

They won their next 11 games.

His senior year at Canyon, Civita passed for 2,732 yards with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while rushing for 457 yards and five more scores.

After weighing his options, Civita decided to play his hand at COC.

He grey-shirted in the fall of 2006.

"I came in late," says Civita. "I originally was playing summer ball at Glendale. (Then I thought) ‘you know what,' it is too far to do this everyday."

In order to grey-shirt, one must take fewer than the required 12 credits to maintain full-time status with the school.

He was able to train with the team without using up any eligibility or a red-shirt year.

His next season, the quarterback position was three-deep and Civita found himself on the outside.

Among them was current Cougar quarterback Brad McClellan.

That season, COC lost in the quarterfinals to Bakersfield.
All the while, Civita wanted to play at a four-year institution.

But his options would be greatly limited until he landed a starting gig.

With Cougars head coach Garett Tujague's blessing, Civita transferred to Santa Barbara on the day that classes started.

His schedule was arduous.

Commuting from Newbury Park, he had to leave by 4:45 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to get there by 5:45 a.m.
Practice would last for two hours and then he would head to class.

Tuesdays and Thursdays, the team had afternoon practices, so he would not leave until 6:30 p.m., only to hit the books once he got home.

"I knew that I wanted to play so I was going to do whatever it took," Civita says. "I needed to do whatever I had to do to get on the field. ... I was there 15 minutes early every day."

Only getting a few hours sleep, the starting job was handed to the incumbent quarterback Conner Rehage.

In their second game, SBCC matched up against COC.

"It was fun playing against friends," says Civita. "They knew I was at Santa Barbara. It was fun. ... I knew they were really good team and we were still trying to figure out who we were as a team."

Civita saw only a few snaps, in a losing effort.

The team went 0-4 (0-1 in conference) to start the season before Civita would get his chance following an injury to Rehage.

In their final six games of the season, the Vaqueros went 6-0, barely missing the postseason.

Coincidence?

"(The team was) rallying behind me," Civita says. "They had more respect for me as a football player and teammate. Once I started playing, everyone believed that we could do well."

Southern Arkansas University saw the connection as well and responded quickly.

Classes started on Wednesday, Jan. 14 in Magnolia, Ark.
On Friday, Jan. 16, Civita was offered a scholarship.

Now, he must report by Wednesday, Jan. 21, the last day of late registration.

With a new coaching staff and a blank slate, Civita has the opportunity to start this season and continue his football career.

But it hasn't been purely off his athletic merit.
"You can be the most amazing athlete in the world, but if you don't have the grades, it doesn't matter," Civita says.

His 3.2 transfer grade point average has allowed him to keep his options open, proof that there are higher priorities than what happens on the field.
Civita's advice is simple.

"It doesn't matter how good you are on the field. It is how good you are in the classroom," he says. "Don't ever give."


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