Larry Frierson Jr. doesn’t just compete for his school and his team, he does so for his father.
Same position, similar skills, same goals.
The elder Larry Frierson quarterbacked Valley High School in 2000 and 2001, later overcame several close calls with death, be it gunfire or illness, and this season watched with pride as his son rallied Cosumnes Oaks from a slow start into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. The Wolf Pack play at Sheldon on Thursday night in an opener.
Frierson was voted The Bee’s Prep of the Week after completing 10 of 14 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for a score to beat Ponderosa 45-21 in a regular-season finale. The win secured a playoff spot for a program that started the season 0-3.
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“Every week, I try to focus on intensity, to be a leader, the best I can, and people say I have big shoes to fill following my dad, but I stay within myself,” Frierson said. “My dad has a big impact on me, and I thank God every day he’s here.”
Frierson has been motivated by the plight of his father, some of it self-induced and some of it rotten luck. When he was 21, he was shot 10 times in a gang-related dispute in South Sacramento. No arrests were made. One bullet struck him in the back and left him partially paralyzed.
He needs crutches or a cane to get around, but he doesn’t complain. He’s alive.
The elder Frierson also twice overcome non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, first in 2005 and then in 2010. He underwent a stem cell transplant in 2010 and said he’s in “good health now.”
“I credit a lot of the physical and mental side to surviving to having been a high school athlete,” he said. “Sports taught me to never fold and always fight. Once I realized what I was up against, I attacked it and never let it eat me up mentally.
“And I couldn’t let my downfalls and stupidity create a shortcoming for my son. I’m just so proud of him. I will never give up. I love life too much to throw in the towel.”
The son has a similar outlook on life. He battled injuries a year ago and hardly saw the field. He emerged as a team leader this fall, overcame growing pains at varsity quarterback as a senior and handled splitting time at the position earlier in the season, “with class and dignity,” Cosumnes Oaks coach Derick Milgrim said.
The coach added, “When we got into the last few games of the year and were in must-win situations, Larry elevated his game, and for three weeks now, he’s played the best football of his career. He never put his head down or pouted. He just kept doing his best and earned the admiration of his coaches and teammates.”
Frierson plans to attend a community college next season, looking to add to his 6-foot, 170-pound frame. He will look to play quarterback but wants to get on the field in any capacity, so he is open for a position change. And he prides himself in one family matter.
“Dad says I’m a better passer,” he said with a laugh.