Patterson confident in himself, Eagles, as season nearsBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
It’s not easy to be a high school quarterback, especially being a varsity starter for the first season.
There are far more who struggle at the position than those who are successful. Vista’s Grant Patterson is one of the success stories. Coming into last season, not too many were sure what kind of season Patterson would have, as he was battling Nate Cromwell for the starting job.
Patterson earned the job and went on to quietly have a strong season, as he completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,139 yards and 22 touchdowns, against only eight interceptions. He led the Eagles to a 5-1 record in the Capital Athletic League and a 7-5 record overall before the team was bounced from postseason play by Patterson.
With a season of varsity experience under his belt, the 6-4 senior is looking forward to an even better performance in his final high school season. He put in a lot of work in the offseason to make sure he’s a better quarterback this year.
“The offseason is a big grind,” said Patterson, who’s got a couple Division III colleges looking at him. “I tried to put on weight and get stronger. I also played a lot of seven-on-seven ball with a couple different teams. I just wanted to get as many reps as possible so I could perfect my technique.”
On top of that, Patterson threw with his receivers at Vista at least twice a week to get a head start on timing and consistency with the team’s “bread and butter routes,” as he called them, and to continue to build chemistry with his receivers.
Looking back on last year, Patterson said he wished he would have gotten off to a better start to the season, and while he was pleased with how he progressed, at the end of the year he wasn’t as consistent as he wanted to be.
“I struggled to figure out varsity football for awhile,” Patterson said. “I started to figure it out and became more confident and ended up having a decent year. I wish I could have settled my nerves earlier in the season. I also came up short in being consistent with my technique and ball placement on a play-to-play basis late in the year.”
For those reasons, along with the fact that Patterson hopes to play college ball, Patterson has put so much time in the offseason preparing for the season. He only started playing quarterback in eighth grade, but he’s come a long way quickly.
“I’m content with how I performed last year, but I’m constantly working to be better,” Patterson said. “(Head coach Mike) Struebing likes to put quarterbacks in uncomfortable situations, so I just try to be confident and figure it out. I feel like I’m in a good spot about being comfortable with things, but I’m always trying to get better.”
Patterson’s also hoping for a good season for the Vista football team. With two linemen returning along with three receivers, the offense has the pieces to be successful this season.
“I feel our chemistry is good and it’s getting better,” Patterson said of the offensive unit. Jaxson (Hansen) is going to surprise some people this year at running back because everyone is going to expect us to go to air since Dom (Norris) is gone. Chad wants to break the single season touchdown record at Vista so he’s focused. Nate (Hollingshaus) has some of the best hands around, and Mitch (Northcutt) and Ryan (Tung) are solid. Our “X,” Nate Zan, is always asking how to get better and make things better. With Struebing making the calls, I think we can be a high-scoring, high-powered offense. We just have to have everyone pulling in the right direction, because it’s going to take us all to get the job done.”
Though the Eagles have only 28 players on the roster this season with few returning starters, Patterson said the team is a tough-knit group with a strong bond and can surprise some people this year.
“Things will be tough for us because we’ve got a smaller-sized scale, but the guys work hard and are pulling in the same direction,” Patterson said. “If we grind, we can have a good year. All the guys have bought in, and a lot of the first-year guys, you can’t tell are first-year guys because of all the work they’ve done.
“We want to have a winning record after preseason, and then we want to win our home games and steal as many games as we can on the road. Ultimately, we want to have a deep playoff run and I feel that’s a very possible reality.”