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Ken Bruich

Dylan Wheatley, sad to say, has yet to receive that affirmative, once-in-a-lifetime, golden chance to play quarterback at an NCAA Division I college.

Citrus Valley’s QB, who will get a limited five-game exposure to try to prove himself to a college coach that needs a 6-foot-3-inch QB that can throw any kind of pass he’s asked.

No college contacts?

It’s bugging his coach, Kurt Bruich, so much, he says, “he’s under-rated and under-recruited.”

There are the NAIA schools, a few NCAA Division 2s, but there’s still hope that a Div. I campus (more money to offer in scholarships) will be watching.

There’s some good news: With a college season in the rear view mirror, those coaches can freely roam in search of current senior prospects.

Bruich can point to a player, Wheatley, who threw 47 touchdown passes during his junior season in 2019, plus accuracy (55%) plus a ton of yardage (3,126 yards). Plus this: Wheatley is still available.

Bruich, for his part, has logged plenty of success coaching QBs, mostly during his time at Redlands East Valley.

Nathan Johns, for instance, got his start at QB in REV’s early days, eventually winding up at Oregon State. At that point, Bruich was just warming up as Wildcats’ coach.

Johns was just the first of Bruich’s string of QB prospects to hit the collegiate ranks.

“Boyd Lium,” says Bruich, noting his longtime QB coach who played collegiately at Black Hills (South Dakota) State, “is still with me (at Citrus Valley — also serves as athletic director).”

Lium, for his part, displayed a remarkable era of QBs that were, at one time, all on Citrus Valley’s roster.

Dylan Wheatley had transferred from REV to Citrus Valley, which lost a full force of QBs in transfers to other campuses — Jonathan Calderon to Cajon, Elijah James to Yucaipa, Jordan Pachot and Seth Burbine to San Gorgonio. Long before Bruich’s arrival, current University of Redlands QB Nathan Martinez transferred to Yucaipa.

Lium joked, “We must’ve done something wrong with all those kids.”

Only one player at a time, though, can play QB.

It was an incredible array of QB talent that was centered at Citrus Valley. Neither Bruich nor Lium shies away from their ability to coach the snap-takers.

“Kurt does the film study,” says Lium. “I teach technique.”

When Bruich eventually picked Wheatley to take the snaps, a variety of events took place. Calderon, the 2018 Blackhawks’ starter, moved on to Cajon.

Pachot, the Blackhawks’ 2016 and 2017 starter transferred to San Gorgonio High where he led the Spartans to a CIF championship and won CIF Player of the Year honors.

As Blackhawks’ starting QB under former coach Pete Smolin, Pachot threw for nearly 5,100 yards (46 TDs, 19 interceptions) over two seasons. At San G, Pachot threw for nearly 4,400 yards and 41 TDs in one season.

Upon Bruich’s arrival at Citrus Valley, there were plenty of anxious QBs awaiting the call.

Incredibly, Wheatley was tabbed over everyone else.

There was even talk that REV’s QB, Jeremiah Donahue, might move over to Citrus Valley. Except for this: Bruich was satisfied with Wheatley.

In Bruich’s years at REV, there was Johns, followed by Ronnie Fouch (Univ. Washington), plus Austin DeCoud (Idaho) and Tyler Shreve (Utah) — each a NCAA Div. I prospect.

Armando Herrera who, as a sophomore, took the snaps for REV’s state championship team, went from San Bernardino Valley College to an NCAA Div. II school in Texas.

Myles Herrera (no relation) left REV for another Div. II school in Iowa.

“Armando’s brother,” said Bruich, “is a sophomore here right now.”

Bruich stacks his system of teaching QBs — Lium, Gary Tessitore, among others — with anyone in the area, including Ryan Porter. Operator of QB Calvary, Porter has his own stable of signal-callers throughout the area.

Unlike Porter, whose specialty is QBs, Bruich gets the entire package. He nurtures along his offensive line, perhaps, more than any other position on the field. Those players, too big to qualify under junior football weight limits, must learn football from scratch.

Bruich, in essence, takes those linemen candidates carefully under his wing.

Throw in his stable of coaching skill players — receivers and running backs — it’s a comfort level for each of Bruich’s QB products.

Bruich cracked, “I could’ve coached Jayden. Great quarterback.”

All totaled, Bruich’s success rate — albeit aided by Lium and Tessitore — has been largely impressive.

“Every quarterback that’s come out of our system has gotten a scholarship,” said Bruich.

Which brings talk back to Wheatley, operating without a D-I offer.

“He’s got five more games to impress one person,” said Bruich.