A lot of the success for the Orange Lutheran football team can be attributed to its offensive line.
Wednesday, 3/5 of that line participated in a National Signing Day ceremony at Orange Lutheran.
“I’m blessed,” quarterback Lj Northington, who signed with Harvard, said. “Not a lot of people can say that they got to work behind one of the best (offensive) lines in the country.
“They provided a great year for us.”
Right tackle Logan Bathke signed with Oregon, center Alex Dalpe signed with Sacramento State and left guard Adam Heigis signed with San Jose State.
"It just shows what we could have done if we had better skill players," Bathke joked.
When Bathke arrived at Orange Lutheran, he was splitting time between football field and the basketball court. He was 6-5, but weighed less than 190 pounds.
“Once I got my first (scholarship) offer for football after junior year, that’s when I stopped (playing basketball and focused on football,” Bathke said.
Bathke admitted that the recruiting process became a bit stressful, but said he “would do it again.”
“We pushed ourselves as hard as we can,” Bathke said of the offensive line. “You can see now, with three of the five signing, but just pushing ourselves constantly in practice and you see the hard work will pay off.”
“He was that guy that always led,” Petersen said. “When he first walked in the door, just because of his personality and he was so good that the kids always responded to him, but as he became more mature as a person and athlete, he became more vocal and a guy that would actually talk and sit.
“He just has that aura about him.”
The senior quarterback passed for 1,855 yards with 14 touchdowns and rushed for 848 and 14 touchdowns as the Lancers advanced to the second round of the CIF-SS Pac-5 playoffs.
Wednesday, he fulfilled one of his dreams, signing with Harvard University.
“I had to really work, if I wanted to go to Harvard,” Northington said. “Spring after my junior year, stars kinds of aligned and things opened up for me and I was blessed to get an offer over the summer. That’s when it became a reality that this (going to Harvard) might really be happening.
“It takes a different level of work and dedication.”
Two of Harvard’s top three quarterbacks were seniors last season. Northington is looking forward to fine tuning some areas of his game before he departs.
“I want to get bigger and stronger, to be able to take some hits,” he said. “I want to focus on my throwing mechanics, polish that up and just study the game and learn my playbook the best I can.”
Bleu Willis said he was intimidated a bit when he first started long snapping.
“When I first got here Chase Dominguez was still the snapper here,” Willis said. “He was one of the top snappers, but he and Viese (coach Dean Vieselmeyer) really helped me and out through the whole process. He was the one that taught me how to snap.”
Willis was the long snapper as a junior at the JV level and moved up to varsity for the recently completed season.
The position switch certainly paid off as Willis signed his letter of intent Wednesday with Kentucky Christian University.
“I worked with Viese a lot and I went out and got myself a personal snapping trainer, (Chris Ramos). He helped me a lot to refine my skills make things more crisp. He also helped me with my nerves because the first time I snapped in a JV game, I got really nervous and I messed up and after that week, we found him and started working with him and he taught me how to calm down and really get into my rhythm and start snapping.”
“I never thought I would make it college on a scholarship. It is a great honor for me because I’m one of the few people in my family to get to go to college.
Orange Lutheran football coach Chuck Petersen knows both sides of National Signing Day.
Even though he recently completed his four year as coach of the Lancers, Petersen still relies on his ties in the college game fostered from his 20-plus years at that level.
“First and foremost, the reputation we have as a school, academically and character-wise, they’re going to come through here,” Petersen said. “I have relationships all over the country, literally from Maine to California.
Petersen said that in his four years at Orange Lutheran, there have been 28 players sign to go play college football.
This year, the Lancers had six: (Logan Bathke, Lj Northington, Adam Heigis, Bleu Willis, Alex Dalpe and Scean Mustin).
“This is a culmination of a lot of work, sweat and tears for each one of the kids that sign today, as well as their families,” he said. “At the same time, it is just the beginning and they understand that. It is also a proud day for me. For me to say, we have six that are moving on and going to the next level, is pretty neat.”