By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Sanford has stellar year at Central
Placeholder Image
Ceres' Austin Sanford didn't get much playing time last season. He watched from the sideline as the Central Catholic football team claimed its third straight section championship.

This year, Sanford helped guide the Raiders to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title and a 13-0 record. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior passed for 1,655 yards and 20 touchdowns.

"This feels better because I was the starting quarterback," said Sanford, several minutes after being interviewed by sports anchor Del Rodgers as part of the KCRA's Blitz 3 weekly high school football program. "I earned it."

Sanford was third on depth chart behind sophomore Ruben Ramos and junior Stuart Rotticci prior to the start of the 2004 season.

"He was real inexperienced coming in," said Central assistant coach Tim Garcia. "But the potential was there." Garcia played quarterback at Davis High School, Modesto Junior College and the University of Mary in North Dakota.

Central's coaching staff turned to Sanford after Ramos and Rotticci suffered setbacks. Ramos had a growth inside of his jaw, which had to be removed via surgery. Rotticci separated a shoulder.

Sanford was prepared.

"This summer, I worked real hard," Sanford said. "I watched a lot of film."

Added Garcia: "He learned the system."

Sanford gained confidence with each practice, game and player-coach meeting. He developed into a leader.

"It's amazing how much he has grown," Garcia said.

Sanford completed 64 percent of his passes and threw just 10 interceptions in 13 games. He also ran for 253 yards on 28 carries and scored eight touchdowns.

Not bad for a first-year starting quarterback.

"He's going to be remembered as a pretty good quarterback at this school," Garcia said.

In the playoffs, Sanford passed for 443 yards and scored 12 touchdowns (nine passing and three rushing) in three games.

He threw for 145 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Raiders to a 50-6 win over Le Grand in the section championship game. He also scored on a 1-yard run.

In a 77-12 win against Brookside Christian in the semifinals, Sanford completed 13 of 16 passes for 183 yards and accounted for five of his team's touchdowns, including four passing and one rushing.

"When he gets his feet set, he can really do some damage," Garcia said.

In 2003, Sanford was a backup quarterback, receiver and outside linebacker at Central. He completed 1 of 5 passes for 13 yards, had two catches for 25 yards and five rushes for 15 yards. He also made 11 tackles.

Sanford transferred to Central after completing his sophomore year at Pitman, where he played receiver and outside linebacker for the school's JV football team.

Sanford went to Modesto Christian during his freshman year. He played quarterback and safety at the JV level.

"I'm glad I made the decision to come here," Sanford said.

Sanford plans to play football at the next level. He has already sent out over 50 tapes to colleges.

"He has a bright future ahead of him," Garcia said. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier