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Canyon likes what Harman can do in his comfort zone
ANAHEIM – If there’s one person who knows best how Canyon’s Jason Harman has progressed as a quarterback, it is his favorite target, especially since they’ve known each other since the eighth grade.
“He’s gotten a lot smarter over the years, and his decision-making has improved,” senior wide receiver Trace Hobbs said. “Freshman year, freshman football, he would just kind of throw up the ball.”
Hobbs sees a much different player now.
“His arm strength has improved, the ball is getting there quicker this year … All that combined, he’s turned into an elite quarterback in my opinion,” he said.
The senior quarterback has developed into a legitimate two-way threat under second-year Coach Mike Ogas, and he has led the Comanches to their first apprearance in the CIF-SS finals since 1979.
Canyon (8-5) plays its North Hills League rival Brea Olinda (8-5) on Friday night at Brea Olinda High in the Southern Division final at 7.
“Until this year, I was learning a new offense every offseason,” Harman said of finding his comfort zone in Ogas’ system. “Just having a year knowing the offense makes me understand a lot better. I focused this year on understanding line calls, so I could help control that as well as what the running backs and receivers do as well.”
Harman was slated to be the starting slot receiver as a sophomore, with then-senior Cory Elsasser at quarterback. Things didn’t get off to a good start.
“I broke my collarbone in the first scrimmage, came back first game and re-broke it,” Harman said. “My sophomore year was scratched.”
As a junior, Harman completed 55.6 percent of his passes (180 of 324) for 1,949 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also rushed for 700 yards and seven touchdowns.
“It helped that he was a 4.0 student. He picked it up real quick,” Ogas said. “The offense is actually pretty simple for everybody, except the .. quarterback has to know everything. It was a lot on him. Initially, he struggled early last season and we started off 0-6. Then things started slowing down for him.”
This season, he completed 56 percent of his passes, his passing yards rose to 2,429, his touchdown total increased to 28 and his interceptions stayed at 11.
The Harman-Hobbs connection has been one of the best in the county, with Hobbs pulling in 63 catches for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns.
“The whole offense is predicated around an athletic quarterback,” Ogas said. “He’s perfect for our system. He’s not a pocket passer, but he’s not a straight zone-read, he can kind of do everything.”
Harman’s development coincides with the rapid improvement of the program.
Canyon was 0-10 in 2011, followed by 3-7 the next season.
“I didn’t want to go here because they went 0-10,” Hobbs said. “When I met Jason (at a football camp), I decided to go to Canyon.”
This senior class arrived on the varsity level as sophomores, leading to 5-6 record. Last year’s team went the CIF-SS Southern Division semifinals.
“We had a special freshman team. We went 8-2,” Harman said. “That’s the seniors now. I knew that we were going to be a good team, our junior and seniors year, we just had to kind of go through the process.
“We were going to have to go through some rough years. Last year, starting off 0-6 helped us grow together, and then we ended up going on a six-game winning streak. This year we knew we were going to be a special team.”
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