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COURTESY LORIE SUTTON
Laguna Hills High senior wide receiver Logan Montgomery heads into his senior season with numerous Division I scholarship offers.

Laguna Hills' Montgomery makes a fast rise to the top

STAFF WRITER

Some call it fast. Some call it explosive. Some call it shifty. Some call it jittery. Some call it twitchy.

There are many ways to describe the freakish speed of 6-foot, 175-pound Logan Montgomery — a senior wide receiver for Laguna Hills — but one thing is for sure: few can catch up to him.

With lightening-quick footwork, Montgomery, who is also on the track team, can out-run anyone. Take the time he dashed down the field last season for a 97-yard kickoff return to beat Trabuco Hills, 35-29, in the final 52 seconds of the game.

Montgomery, who takes after his mother, Marcee’, who set several high school track records, clocked a 40-yard dash time of 4.43, his personal best, at the UCLA Camp in late June.

“One step and he’s gone,” said Laguna Hills coach Mike Maceranka. “He’s the most explosive player I’ve ever coached.”

“He looked faster in a football uniform than he did running a 40,” said Bruce Ingalls, former Laguna Hills coach of 30 years. “That set him apart.”

Montgomery scored 14 touchdowns in 2015, and he has collected 16 Division I scholarship offers. The list of programs pursuing him includes Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Nevada, Army, Air Force, Northern Arizona, Montana State and Eastern Washington.

His ascent in the recruiting ranks wasn’t nearly as quick as his first step.

Few knew who he was before last season. Some still don’t, as Montgomery, who holds a 4.2 grade-point average, has yet to garner offers from bigger schools, though, in Maceranka’s eyes, “there’s no better receiver in the county.”

“He’s like the best kept secret,” said Russell Carr, a former Division I player who has trained Montgomery since his sophomore year.

Montgomery has always been one of the smallest players on the field, since he started playing at age six.

He was born 10 weeks premature, at 2 pounds, 15 ounces. He stayed in the Saddleback Hospital Neonatal unit for eight weeks.

“It’s a miracle that he’s even here,” Marcee’ said. “We didn’t even know if this kid was going to walk or be able to see or do anything.”

Montgomery started out at running back, but his Pop Warner coach switched him to receiver in seventh grade, reasoning he wasn’t big enough to be a running back. The same concerns would follow him at receiver when he arrived at Laguna Hills as a freshman.

“My size has no effect on my playing abilities,” Montgomery said. “I’d rather have speed over height any day.”

Still, he had to develop physically, playing for Laguna Hills’ freshman team. He earned MVP honors.

“He didn’t just show up and all the coaches said, ‘This is a supertar,’ ” said his father, Jeff. “He had to put in work every single year. He had to earn it. He had to prove himself.”

In his sophomore year, Montgomery started on junior varsity and again earned MVP. Midway through the season, he was pulled up to varsity and started on defense. He didn’t contribute as much as he would have liked on offense, he said, due to a hamstring injury.

He had pulled his growth plate away from the bone in his left hip, causing pain whenever he would move his leg, even in doing something as simple as sitting in class. Enduring physical therapy three days a week for six months, Montgomery doubted if he would be able to return with the same speed.

But he kept working, sometimes training with Carr in pouring rain. Carr, standing under an umbrella with Jeff, called out to Logan who was running sprints: “Logan, do you want to shut it down?”

Not a chance. Montgomery kept going.

Another time, Carr fibbed about Montgomery’s 40-yard dash time, telling Montgomery he ran a 4.78 when he actually ran a 4.48. Montgomery was so mad he went to the gym every day thereafter, posting a 4.45 showing soon thereafter (he’d break that mark at the UCLA camp).

“I just kept telling him, ‘let the cream rise to the top,’ ” Carr said. “Just keep putting in the work. It’s going to pay off.’ ”

In his junior year, Montgomery broke through against Woodbridge with three touchdowns, including a 92-yard kickoff return for a TD, an 85-yard interception return for a TD, and a 52-yard scoring reception.

“Once he got that opportunity to catch a few passes, he seized the moment,” Jeff said. “He just exploded.”

Over the season, Montgomery totaled 14 touchdowns and 1,868 all-purpose yards. He made 27 catches for 770 yards (29.0 ypc avg.), three interceptions (two were returned for TDs) and 105 total tackles on defense.

He made the All-County team (third-team all-purpose), all-league first-team offense, and was named team MVP.

Yet after not receiving any offers by the end of the season, he had to stay patient. He competed for OC Elite from January to May of this year, facing some of the top defensive backs in the nation, such as Mission Viejo’s Olaijah Griffin.

He received his first offer from Cornell in March, snowballing to 15 more — something he never expected.

“I’m blown away by that,” said Montgomery, selected as one of Laguna Hills' team captains this season.

But he isn’t satisfied. In his spare time he watches game film on his iPhone, observing how receivers move, how they run routes.

His biggest goal is his team’s improvement. Laguna Hills went 1-9 his sophomore year. Last year, the team went 8-4 and finished tied for second place in the Sea View League. Montgomery hopes the upward trend continues.

“We’re trying to be the best we can be,” Montgomery said. “We’ll see what happens. We gotta put in the work. We can’t just expect it to happen.”

Contact the writer: mfader@ocregister.com


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