Sports Chatter

By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Service
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“Say it ain’t so, Joe.” A growing trend in high school sports – that 20 years ago was practically non-existent and 10 years ago was just a small blimp on the radar screen – is now turning into a practically everyday occurrence if you are a follower of prep athletics. In what could be dubbed, “If You Can’t Play ... We’ll Go Somewhere Else Club,” scores of parents are not even having second thoughts of moving from one school district to another in order for Johnny or Mary to have a better chance of getting playing time. This week, in perhaps one of the boldest moves that has already drawn statewide and national attention, an Associated Press story run by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat confirmed that Nick Montana, the youngest son of Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, will be transferring from De La Salle of Concord to Oaks Christian in Westlake Village for the 2008 season. The younger Montana led De La Salle’s JVs to a 9-1 record last season but it became apparent that he was not going to be able to unseat De La Salle’s returning quarterback who led the Spartans to a win in last season’s State CIF Div. I Championship Bowl game. On Montana’s behalf, the move to the Thousand Oaks area in southern California is being done for two reasons. It puts the younger Montana closer to Steve Clarkson, the famed quarterback coach who runs Air 7, and it brings the senior Montana closer to his business interests. But wait a minute, that’s what the Montanas said when they left Cardinal Newman in Santa Rosa a few years back to transfer to De La Salle. Joe Montana was quoted in the story about the transfer that, “The Oaks Christian offense is a better fit for Nick,” who is 6-5 and supposed to be the spitting image of No. 16 in looks and throwing styles. If it means anything, the Montanas older son, Nate, was De La Salle’s third string quarterback last fall but earned a preferred walk-on offer at dad’s alma mater, Notre Dame, this season. Closer to home the trend isn’t much different. A all-league basketball player at Whitney jumped ship and is now playing at Rocklin. A Granite Bay JV standout at quarterback from last season has reportedly also transferred to Rocklin and last season a linebacker who wasn’t going to beat out a solid core of linebackers at Colfax left and went cross-river to Bear River. A few years back, Colfax High coach Tony Martello received a phone call from a parent at a fellow Placer Union High School District school who was inquiring about bringing his quarterback son to Falcon-land. Martello told the parent that he could do anything he wanted but that Colfax was set at the QB spot the next two years. In this case, the player stayed at his school and actually is now playing at a Div. I-AA school on scholarship. In bygone days, a transfer from one school to another was not a big deal. The new CIF state wide transfer rule is supposed to be a deterrent to players following AAU coaches to schools but it is still happening. Anyway, the stands at Oak Christian’s games this football season should be star-studded because also on the team are Trevor Gretzky, the son of Wayne Gretzky, and the star receiver is Trey Smith, the son of actor Will Smith.