It will be a reunion for Bacher
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Jesuit High School, a tiny private school in Carmichael Calif., is traditionally one of the better football programs in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
There will be a JHS reunion of sorts when Nevada players Josh Catapano and Alonzo Durham meet up with former prep teammate C.J. Bacher, who is Northwestern’s starting quarterback, on Saturday when the teams collide in Evanston, Ill.
A third Nevada player, Dominic Green, may not be making the trip because of a foot injury.
Bacher, Green and Catapano all played big roles in Jesuit’s 13-0 season in 2002 which resulted in a league, city and section championship.
“He (Bacher) is a great guy,” Durham said before Nevada’s Tuesday practice. “I played two years on the same team, my sophomore and junior seasons. I’m looking forward to playing against them and seeing C.J. again.”
Bacher, who took over the starting job five games into last season, and completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,172 yards and six scores, also is looking forward to the weekend.
“It’s going to be sweet playing against those guys,” Bacher said in a telephone interview after Wednesday’s practice. “Josh and I were best friends in high school. We did a lot of things together.”
Trips to the mall, playing video games at each other’s houses and bowling were what Bacher and Catapano were all about away from campus. Typical teen-age stuff.
Catapano just laughed when asked who the better bowler was between himself and Bacher.
“He’s pretty good,” Catapano said. “He gets strike after strike.” Catapano went on to tell a story about Bacher throwing so many strikes that he won a few lines of free bowling.
Catapano said that Bacher came up to Reno and hung around for a few days during the summer before the latter had to return to the Midwest to get ready for fall camp.
And, the pair stay in constant communication even during football season.
“I talk to him (Josh) two or three times a week,” Bacher said. “We talk about how football is going and other stuff, too.”
The two have had plenty to talk about in recent weeks.
Bacher, who retained the job with his performance in spring camp, completed 77 percent of his passes, running for one score and passing for another in the Wildcats’ 27-0 win over Northeastern last week.
Catapano took over the starting center job when Green broke his foot before fall camp and Kyle Robertson was kicked off the squad for taking a swing at one of the coaches during a practice session.
For a small time, Bacher considered going to Nevada. The Pack coaches showed some interest in him while he was at Jesuit, but Bacher commited early to Oregon State.
When the Beavers kept adding quarterbacks, Bacher started to second-guess his decision. Even though he’d given OSU a verbal, Bacher went to Northwestern on an official trip. A week later, he de-commited from OSU and opted for Northwestern.
“I knew Dominic was interested in Nevada,” Bacher said. “I looked at them a little bit. I didn’t take an official visit there, though. I think it was too close to home. I kind of wanted to play at a Pac-10 or Big Ten school.”
Bacher’s road to the No. 1 spot at Northwestern hasn’t been easy.
A stress fracture in 2006 cost him a chance to be the starter at the outset. He wasn’t cleared medically until Sept. 25, and the Wildcats got off to a 2-5 start, including a 31-21 loss at Mackay Stadium.
Bacher guided the ‘Cats to a 2-3 record down the stretch, including wins over Iowa and Illinois. Northwester lost 17-3 to Michigan and 41-38 to Michigan State. Bacher threw for a career-high three touchdowns in the MSU loss.
“That was pretty tough having to sit out, ” Bacher said. “I gained a lot of knowledge. I saw what was going on. We had a new offensive coordinator last year. I was able to sit back and learn things while I was out.”
Bacher had surgery on his toe in the off-season, which caused him to miss approximately 10 days of spring practice.
“When I came back, I was ready to go,” Bacher said. “II was preparing the whole time I was out. I think he (coach Pat Fitzgerald) had decided in the spring, but he didn’t announce it until the summer.”
“He (Bacher) is as good as they come,” Nevada coach Chris Ault said. “He throws the ball real well.”