As a seventh grader playing travel baseball for the most part, but dabbling in some quarterback play on a flag football team, Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista quarterback Jeff Lockie thought baseball might be his ticket to the next level.
The quarterback everyone talked about was his baseball teammate, Zach Kline.
“I’ve known Zach since we were in 7th grade playing travel baseball, and that was the first time, I met him,” said Lockie. “He was playing T-Bird (Pop Warner) and I was just playing flag football. We were friends and we all knew he’d be playing football at San Ramon Valley. I was going to Monte Vista and was going to play, but I didn’t get a lot of attention because I was playing flag football.”
Now both have enjoyed two years as the starters at the crosstown rivals, and both are headed to the Pac-12, Kline to Cal and Lockie to Oregon.
Both had to wait their turn, but Lockie had huge shoes to fill. He spent his sophomore year backing up Brett Nottingham, who’s now backing up Andrew Luck at Stanford and is poised to have big shoes of his own to fill next year, taking over for the expected #1 pick in the NFL Draft.
“Taking over for Brett, to say you want to do what he did, the stats he put up were unbelievable,” said Lockie. “I just wanted to go out and make good decisions.”
Lockie still keeps in contact with Nottingham, who will have the whole country staring at him, assuming Luck doesn’t shock the world and come back for one more year.
“I talk to him every once in a while,” said Lockie. “He says all day, every day, you’re definitely going to struggle, but you have to commit to it, study and stay with it. With him backing up Luck, what he says helps him like it does me.”
On Saturday night, Lockie will try to knock off his good friend Kline for the second time this year.
Earlier this season, Lockie engineered a final minute drive, just after Kline had crafted one of his own, to give Monte Vista a chance to win on a field goal with nine seconds left. When the kick was good, Monte Vista earned bragging rights and a trophy.
The last two playoff wins has now given them one more chance to lock horns.
And Lockie knows that the last game means nothing when tonight’s CIF-NCS game kicks off.
“I wouldn’t say it does have an effect,” said Lockie. “It’s cool that we won but nothing that happened then will happen now. If anything, they’re going to come back more motivated. This one’s a whole new rivalry now. I remember some of the games, that came down to the last second, how much energy that each time brings. It’s definitely a pretty cool rivalry. But I know in the back of my head, it ended then. I definitely remember winning that last game. It’s pretty important to everyone in Danville. But this game is its own game.”
The winner gets eternal bragging rights. A win tonight puts the victor in the CIF-NCS title game at the O.Coliseum in Oakland, to face Concord De La Salle, who has another star quarterback of their own in Bart Houston, who’s headed to Wisconsin.
“The legacy that so many great quarterbacks from our league have set, they set the stage high,” said Lockie. “They’re different people and we want to set our own name for ourselves. But all three of us enjoy making an impact.”
Lockie was all set to attend San Diego State, ready to commit to the Aztecs before the Ducks made an offer in mid-Summer.
It didn’t take Lockie much time to realize that the opportunity to play for one of the most innovative offensive minds in all of football, Chip Kelly, was one that was too good to pass up.
“I watched a lot of Oregon last year as a fan, and never knowing that was going to be me in that kind of offense,” said Lockie. “Then this year, I got to watch them and see myself in that offense. It’s a pretty cool offense to watch.”
Oregon’s offense has been a machine under Kelly and Lockie said his friends seem to be more excited for him, but that hasn’t always been the case.
“A lot of my friends are always messing around with me, talking about that offense, but I was pretty star struck at first,” said Lockie. “Now I just think how I would be in that offense and I know it’s going to be great and pretty cool playing with some of the best athletes in the country like DeAnthony Thomas.”
Lockie has had three different official visits set for Eugene, and each time, football came in the way.
“I was going to take my official visit for the USC game, but we had a playoff game and then I was going to visit for the Oregon State game but we had a playoff game and then I was supposed to go this weekend but we again had a playoff game,” said Lockie. “I guess that’s a good problem to have though.”
So Lockie plans to visit Eugene sometime this month.
“Whenever our season ends, I’m going to take my official visit and hopefully see them when they’re in their bowl practices,” said Lockie. “I talk to Coach Kelly a lot and I talk to Coach (Mark) Helfrich the most.”
Lockie is set to graduate in the spring and will enroll at Oregon in the early summer.
But for now, his focus is on Monte Vista’s playoff run.
“I just want to get another win, get to the Coliseum and see if we can win a championship,” said Lockie.