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Tigers QB ready to run the show

by Chuck Smock

Douglas High quarterback Anthony Bartone had two football idols as a kid: San Francisco 49ers Ronnie Lott and Joe Montana.

Lott, a bruising free safety, was known for punishing hits and unmatched intensity. Montana was the graceful and intense quarterback who led the Niners to four Super Bowl victories.

Early in his career, Bartone preferred punishing opposing ball carriers to throwing passes.

“I had my mind set on being a free safety,” he said. “And then I played quarterback one year in Pop Warner and I loved it.”

The transition wasn’t an easy, or immediately successful, one.

Bartone didn’t start at quarterback when he was on the freshman football team at Douglas. He stayed in the program and worked hard during the offseason, however, which helped him earn the starting QB position on the DHS junior varsity as sophomore.

“Going into my sophomore year, I just told myself, ‘I’m going to be the quarterback,'” he said. “Twice a week that summer, running backs and receivers would come over to my house and we would practice handoffs and passes in my backyard.”

Douglas head coach Mike Rippee was impressed with the results.

“That shows the dedication and commitment he has,” Rippee said. “He’s worked in the weight room; spring, summer, whatever it takes.

“I think Anthony has the opportunity to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s getting better every day. The thing about Anthony is he continually wants to get better and he works hard in practice every day.”

The hours Bartone has spent in the weight room not only pay off on the football field, but they also paid his way to football camps the last three summers.

At Douglas High, the Tiger who raises the most money each year at the football team’s lift-a-thon earns an expenses-paid trip to the football camp of his choice. Bartone has raised the most money in each of the last three years. He raised more than $2,100 this year and nearly $1,500 last year. Rippee said no one else was even close to Bartone the last two years.

For his most recent fund-raising efforts, Bartone chose to attend a football camp at the University of Michigan.

“That was one of the best experiences of my life,” Bartone said. “I have been a Michigan fan since I was 5 years old and I always wanted to go there and see the stadium.”

Visiting the Ann Arbor campus changed Bartone’s mind about wanting to become a Wolverine, though. The hot, humid weather and the fact that the steamy temperatures last well into the night in the Midwest didn’t agree with the Tigers’ QB.

“It was a little hot for me,” admitted Bartone, who said he is looking for a school a little closer to home and that he would really like to attend UCLA. “They always have a good team, their coach, Bob Toledo, is great with quarterbacks and I have family down there, so that would make it easier.”

Another thing that would make it easier, Bartone said, is having his friend and teammate Levi Shoda make the trip to Los Angeles with him.

“Levi and I have a kind of magic on the football field,” Bartone said. “We’re real good friends. We want to go to school there together and hopefully play football together.”

But for now, Bartone, Shoda and the rest of the Tigers are focusing on continuing the success the Douglas football program has experienced during the last two seasons.

“We’re all obviously shooting for a state title,” Bartone said. “Two years ago, the team made it to the playoffs for the first time in 20 years. Last year, we won our first 4A playoff game.

“This year, we want to win zone and bring a state title home for Douglas.”

And Rippee is confident he has the right quarterback to lead his team.

“The thing about being a good quarterback is having confidence in your ability to perform,” the coach said. “Anthony leads by example. He has a real even temperament and he doesn’t panic.

“Consistency and how he handles adversity will tell the story in the end. But that’s true of everybody on the team. How a player handles different situations – good and bad – separates the greats from the not-so-greats. And how you handle adversity defines what type of player you are.”

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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