|Joined by their families, six Heritage High athletes were recognized Wednesday for receiving athletic scholarships. From left: Briana Contreras, Brittany Rayls, Jamal Morrow, Darius Allensworth, Marvin Hifo, Julio Calix.|
Hundreds of students, parents, friends and media packed the campus theater Wednesday morning to witness the school's first major scholarship signings by student-athletes in Heritage's six-year history. The group included the first two Heritage High football standouts to sign with Pacific-12 Conference schools.
Running back Jamal Morrow, who rushed for 2,092 yards and 16 touchdowns last fall, signed a national letter of intent to attend Washington State on a full-ride scholarship. Cornerback Darius Allensworth signed with Cal.
Marvin Hifo, a wide receiver and linebacker, signed a letter of intent with Western New Mexico. Also attending the ceremony was lineman Julio Calix, who has orally committed to Western New Mexico but will wait until after taking a trip there to sign his letter.
"This is the biggest signing we've ever had," said athletic director David Drake, who introduced the players individually as they entered from behind a curtain to the cheers of the crowd. "This means we're on the map. People now know we have quality student-athletes. "
The first football signing in Heritage's short history came two years ago, when All-CIF player Donovan Adams signed with Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. After playing one season there, Adams died in an auto accident in Menifee last June. Patriots athletes announced Wednesday they were dedicating this celebration to his memory.
Kraig Broach, who coached the Patriots to the CIF finals two years ago and to the semifinals last season, acknowledged the significance of the signings.
"I don't know what it does for the school's reputation, but to have two guys going to Washington State and Cal ... that's big news and exciting for them," he said. "They're great kids and I'm very proud of them. We'll see about our reputation as the years go on. The motivation for other students certainly is there. They're excited to see their teammates go on."
Many teachers excused their first-period classes to attend the ceremony and the crowd was enthusiastic in its support of the athletes.
"It's a relief to have it done," Morrow said. "This is a dream come true for me. Every time I saw someone sign on TV, I wanted that to be me. It's just crazy, having all this support."
Morrow said he was attracted to Washington State by the community support for the school he witnessed in remote Pullman, Wash., during his recruiting trip. He said the Cougars' coaching staff pledged its support of him even when he underwent surgery last month for a torn miniscus.
"When the coaches found out I was hurt, they said, 'That's all right. Just get in the mindset that you'll get playing time.' " Morrow said. "They recruited me as a running back and I want to be ready to play."
Allensworth also is coming off an injury. He tore his ACL in a Sept. 14 game against Great Oak, missing most of the season. Even so, he said, Cal coaches kept their commitment to him all along and he's exited to be heading to Berkeley.
"They said two true freshmen will get to play, and I hope I'm one of them," he said.
|The athletes were all smiles as they signed their letters of intent.|
|Students, parents and the media filled the school's theater for Wednesday's ceremony.|