Josh Farr wanted to be the quarterback.
He dreamed of the role, visualizing the joy of leading Jesuit High School to championship success.
Farr earned the job before the season, showed moments of promise, but also forced passes at times and labored through bumps and bruises while warding off linebackers bent on cutting him in half.
And then, suddenly, he wasn’t the guy any more.
Jesuit coach Marlon Blanton rotated Farr with Hank Harvego for a spell, then decided to keep Harvego at quarterback and to unleash Farr everywhere else. Harvego has emerged as a steady passer and Farr has become one of the region’s most versatile playmakers, catching touchdowns, passing for some to mix things up, rushing for scores and making plays on defense.
The position change was one of the subtle tweaks to the lineup that has fueled a 10-game winning streak, and here comes Big Red charging into Folsom on Friday night for a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal. The unselfish mantra of Farr and his friends has defined a team that has overcome myriad season-ending injuries and claimed the Delta League championship and two playoff victories.
The last time Jesuit lost was on Sept. 1, and it was painful, a 55-9 beating at Folsom, which is 12-0 and has its sights set on reaching a section final for the eighth consecutive season. Jesuit aims to reach a final for the first time since 2002.
“Losing the quarterback job was a really low point of my life,” Farr said. “Overall, it was my fault. I didn’t play that well. But Coach Blanton trusted me as a leader to make the change for the best interest of the team and to use me elsewhere, and it’s been the best thing. Hank’s been great, and it’s fun to have him throw to me.
“It was a huge ego step back, but it put things into perspective. I had to swallow the bullet and knew I had to be OK with the change for the team. Luckily, it’s worked out for the best.”
It helps that Farr, a senior, gets along so well with Harvego, a junior. And winning helps cure all ills, too.
“It wasn’t always easy splitting time but we both have a team-first mindset and we are both willing to take on whatever role our team needs,” Harvego said. “That selflessness was contagious throughout the team and a part of why we are winning.”
Blanton agreed, saying, “It wasn’t easy at first because both guys are competitors, both are good quarterbacks but both did what was best for the team, and that’s what made it easy. And we needed that. Absolutely needed that.”
Farr and Harvego want to make this a record season for the Marauders. They also want to play in college.
Farr, at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, is still growing, and he has recruiting interest from Big Sky Conference programs such as Cal Poly, Montana, Montana State and Northern Arizona. His father, Greg Farr, played quarterback and safety at St. Ignatius High in San Francisco, though he won’t admit that his son has passed him up as an athlete.
Harvego is 6-2 and 180 and has another year to play before college. He has some athletic genes, too. His father, Terry, swam at UCLA. And Harvego’s uncle and cousin – Rick and Jerry Neuheisel – played quarterback at UCLA.
Folsom coach Kris Richardson is aware of the Jesuit changes, and he’s leery of a red-hot team eager to knock off the Bulldogs.
“They’ve won 10 games in a row and have clearly made some good adjustments,” Richardson said. “It’ll be different if we last played them two weeks ago. It was 10 weeks ago, and that’s an eternity in football, and Jesuit’s a different team now.”
Here’s a look at other Sac-Joaquin Section playoff games of note this weekend:
St. Mary’s (10-2) at Oak Ridge (11-1) – Oak Ridge and linebacker ace Nate Otto know they have to deal with Dusty Frampton, the Rams’ rampaging running back who scorched the Trojans for four touchdowns in a Division I semifinal rout last year, and St. Mary’s faces an offense that has produced 63 and 49 points in two playoff routs.
Del Campo (12-0) at Granite Bay (10-2) – The Cougars pride themselves on defense and escaped with a 49-48 win over Sacramento in D-II, and the top-seeded Grizzlies have been pounding teams on the ground, in the air and on “D” in what figures to be a low-scoring affair.
Del Oro (7-5) at Central Catholic (10-1) – The two-time defending D-II champion Golden Eagles are coming off a thorough effort to beat an 11-0 Inderkum team and now meet a Raiders team that has four CIF State titles this decade and a runaway rout over Rocklin last week.
Christian Brothers (10-2) at Manteca (10-2) – What a whopper of a rematch, won by Manteca 36-35 in Week 1 as this again will be a quarterback showcase between the Falcons’ Gunnor Faulk and Gino Campiotti of the Buffaloes, two of the section’s most dynamic playmakers.
Placer (11-1) vs. Center (7-5) – The Hillmen have been in four title games since 2008 and seek their first banner since 1981 as they meet their Pioneer Valley League rivals in D-IV play. Center is in a title game for the first time since coach Digol J’Beily quarterbacked the Cougars to the finals in 1988.
Bear River (9-3) vs. Colfax (9-3) – Bear River beat PVL rival Colfax for the D-V banner in 2014, and here the teams are again as small-school powers playing big despite small rosters as champions of the game of attrition.
Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs
All games Friday at 7 p.m.
No. 4 Jesuit at No. 1 Folsom
No. 3 St. Mary’s at No. 2 Oak Ridge
No. 4 Del Campo at No. 1 Granite Bay
No. 7 Del Oro at No. 3 Central Catholic
No. 4 Patterson at No. 1 Oakdale
No. 3 Christian Brothers at No. 2 Manteca
All games Saturday
No. 3 Center vs. No. 1 Placer at Cosumnes Oaks High School, 6 p.m.
No. 6 Bear River vs. No. 5 Colfax at Cosumnes Oaks High School, 1 p.m.
No. 6 Hilmar vs. No. 4 Modesto Christian at Lincoln High School-Stockton, 6 p.m.
No. 2 Ripon Christian vs. No. 1 Rio Vista, at Lincoln High School-Stockton, 1 p.m.