CLOSER LOOK: North QB Justin Gheorghe

Take a closer look at Riverside North senior Justin Gheorghe and you’ll see the best QB in the Inland Area thus far in 2011.

Not only are his stats a testament to that statement, but so are those other not-quite-definable qualities that make him a quarterback, and the leader of a football team.


He’s immensely gifted in the craft of turning a busted play into a 82-yard touchdown pass. Or better yet, a 49-yard run. He’s done both this season.

He also has great repoire with his receivers, senior Aaron Peck and junior Marcus Baugh, and they make plays on the end of passes from Gheorghe, whose duty it is to run North’s intricate offense, which, by the way, he’s done since he was a sophomore.

All those games, all that experience, and a tremendous senior season is ignited by the combination of ability and intelligence.

Have we mentioned that Gheorghe is a left-handed scrambler ala vintage Steve Young? It’s an apt comparison given Gheorghe’s talent throwing on the run.

In North’s 48-7 victory over Poly on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, Huskies coach Mark Parades wasn’t a big fan of one play Gheorghe made, although he conceded that it worked.

“We weren’t trying to do anything spectacular. We wanted to run the football. (Gheorghe) saw something, audibled, and threw it in for a touchdown. He’s just a great athlete. He just wants to score,” Parades said.

Gotta love that: “He just wants to score.”

It’s something he’s done a lot of this season, with 17 total TDs (15 pass) through Week 6. He passed for three and rushed for two in the first half vs. Poly. He didn’t return after halftime.

I caught up with Gheorghe outside his team’s bus (another quick exit by Parades’ team) and got almost two-and-a-half minutes with one of the favorites for 2011 Player of the Year.

What was so much different about this week from last week?

“We noticed we didn’t really come out strong at the beginning (last week). We were a little nervous at times. We picked it up but it was a little too late. (This week) we kept telling ourselves, ‘This week we gotta come out strong, gotta come out hard. We come out fast and do everything right. Execute on everything.'” Gheorghe said.

How sweet was it to get your first three possessions inside Poly’s 20?

“It was good. It made it a lot easier for us to get the ball into the end zone — not having long drives — and it just boosted the team.”

What was the locker room like at halftime, with a 48-0 lead?

“The mentality? Some of the boys were happy, things like that, but we kept saying, ‘This game’s not over. It’s 0-0, halftime. We’ve got another game to play.’ They took to it.”

How do you feel about how the season has progressed for you, individually?

“The season’s coming really well. I worked hard in the off-season. Made sure I could be a leader to this team, and rally everybody behind me and that’s what they’ve done. It’s been working so far.”

You play at Roosevelt next week? What do you know about them about them and what can you take from this week into that game?

“Roosevelt’s off-and-on but when they’re on, they’re good. We need to expect the best, and study for the best and we’re ready to go.”

Can you think about a football career after this season?

“I just signed up with a recruiting company and just got myself out there with that. I’ve been getting letters of interest but no letters of scholarships or things like that. So I’ve been waiting patiently. Keep working hard, day-in and day-out, and hopefully this takes me to my dream, which is playing football at the next level.”

Is football your No. 1 sport?

“I love football, basketball, baseball the same, and which ever one gives me the best school, the best offer, I’m willing to take it, which ever way.”

He should have plenty to choose from by the end of the calendar year.


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