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St. Francis High football's Ty Gangi's one season of greatness

FootballHigh School FootballCalifornia Interscholastic Federation

Not long after concluding what was arguably his team’s most impressive victory of the season, St. Francis High senior quarterback Ty Gangi was asked about the statistical splendor that was his seven-touchdown performance against Monrovia.

Some 15 minutes removed from the Golden Knights’ 48-14 dismantling of the host Wildcats, Gangi replied that he had no idea he had totaled seven scores on that night until just then.

It was a night, coupled with a revelation, that proved emblematic of the skill and talent possessed by Gangi, along with the intangibles showcased by the Golden Knights captain.

“Now, looking back on it, it’s kinda cool seeing those numbers,” Gangi says. “But during the games, it wasn’t about that, it was all just about winning the game.”

When looking back now on the season Gangi had, it really doesn’t matter what numbers one chooses to examine.

As a team, the Gangi-led Golden Knights went 10-3 and advanced to the CIF Southern Section divisional semifinals for the first time since 2005.

With the brilliance of his right arm, Gangi passed for 2,882 yards and 25 touchdowns.

With his educated feet, he rushed for 421 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Any way one looks at Gangi’s body of work, it all added up to him being voted the 2013 All-Area Football Player of the Year by the Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press and La Cañada Valley Sun sports writers.

“Just looking back on the season, he exceeded our expectations with his numbers and just his play,” St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds says. “He was phenomenal.”

It stands to say that in the current high-profile world of high school football in which so much hype and pomp surrounds multi-year starters draped with early offers from myriad colleges, Gangi’s accolades and appeal came from just one season and 13 games.

“He absolutely made the most of his opportunity as a starting quarterback at St. Francis,” Bonds says. “It’s a year I won’t soon forget.”

Having finished his freshman season at St. Francis as a starting quarterback and then carrying on the distinction through his junior varsity season, Gangi was forced to wait in the wings in 2012, as last year’s All-Area Football Player of the Year, Jared Lebowitz, was leading the Golden Knights.

Following the completion of St. Francis’ 4-7 campaign a season ago, Gangi didn’t waste any time stepping in to fill the vacancy left by the departing Lebowitz and taking on a leadership role.

“Honestly, I think as soon as the season started in January,” says senior center Trevor Provencio, in reference to when St. Francis began its offseason workouts. “He was our quarterback and everybody looked to him.”

It was very much the beginning of a St. Francis season that was one of the program’s greatest — a notion that once more can be judged just as easily by the team’s number of wins or statistical excellence.

Gangi, who was named to the All-CIF Southern Section Western Division first team,  quarterbacked one of the most prolific offenses Bonds has ever coached. While the Golden Knights advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2005, it was the team’s third quarterfinal trip since then,with the others coming in 2011 and 2009. A very memorable 2009 squad was quarterbacked by Justin Posthuma.

“This offense had 1,000 more yards than that offense in 2009,” says Bonds, whose 2013 offense averaged 39 points per game. “That was a pretty dang good offense [in 2009]. That’s remarkable and all that starts with Ty.

“[It was] just an unbelievable season.”

Posthuma was coupled with running back and blue chip recruit Dietrich Riley back then. Gangi had plenty of help this season from senior running back Joe Mudie, but in contrast to that 2009 squad, which had plenty of aspirations and expectations, the 2013 Golden Knights were very much personified by Gangi, as they entered the season as an unknown, a wild card, a team hoping to emerge from a losing season.

The Golden Knights far exceeded any expectations — no matter what they were — just as Gangi did.

“I think we were all confident with how well we could do,” Gangi says, “but I don’t think other people believed we could be this good.”

Gangi led an offense that produced 5,694 yards of offense (438 yards per game) with the astounding balance of 2,890 through the air and 2,804 on the ground. The 2009 offense, high flying as it was, totaled 4,653 yards.

“This offense, especially for a quarterback, was so fun to run because I had so many options,” Gangi says. “We were so balanced.”

Gangi’s success came in the face of the area’s most daunting schedule. It was a slate that saw St. Francis play nine teams that advanced to the postseason, take on four league champions, a CIF Southern Section Western Division titlist and a state bowl winner.

Through it all, Gangi appeared nothing like a quarterback playing his first varsity season.

“He never doubted himself,” sophomore receiver Dylan Crawford says. “He always just went out there and knew what he had to do: cool, calm and collected.”

St. Francis started the season at an 8-0 clip, highlighted by Mission League wins over Harvard-Westlake and Cathedral and the aforementioned throttling of Monrovia. Gangi finished with four touchdowns through the air, two on the ground and one receiving on that night against the Wildcats, who had narrowly defeated St. Francis the season before on the way to a CIF championship before making it to the Mid-Valley Division semifinals this year.

St. Francis’ season concluded with a second loss to Gardena Serra, a team ranked among the best in the nation all season until it lost to Chaminade — which won division and state championships and was the only other team to beat the Golden Knights.

Prior to the semifinals, Gangi, who threw a touchdown in every game in 2013, rallied St. Francis twice to defeat Culver City and Camarillo — both league champions — in the first and quarterfinal rounds, respectively. He scored a combined seven touchdowns in the two games.

“You hear the saying from the coaches, it’s kind of a cliché, ‘As so-and-so goes, we go,’” Bonds says. “But it was really true this year: As Ty went, we went. In all regards, he was a great leader.

“It wasn’t cockiness. He had an extreme confidence in his ability to get the job done, no matter how tall the order and it just rubbed off on the rest of the team.”

At the conclusion of St. Francis’ historic run, Gangi finished with 38 total touchdowns. His 25 touchdown passes came against only six interceptions, as he completed 189 of 342 passes (55%). In four games against Monrovia, Chaminade and Serra, he threw for 1,148 yards (more than 300 yards three times) and tallied 14 total touchdowns. In the playoffs, he had eight touchdowns in three games.

“Ty’s really just the glue to the puzzle,” Crawford says. “Everything ran through him. Without him, we wouldn’t have had the success we had on offense.”

Indeed, at the end of a most memorable 2013 season, Gangi walked away knowing he left it all on the field in his first, last and only shot to start for the Golden Knights.

“I definitely think that I did everything I could and I did the best I could and I had a lot of fun and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life,” Gangi says. “Looking back on it, it was such a great experience. We did have so much fun this year and we had a lot of success. It was a great year that I’ll look back on forever.”

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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