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Incoming St. Anthony quarterback Joey Howorko hopeful move from Canada will bear fruit Incoming St. Anthony quarterback Joey Howorko hopeful move from Canada will bear fruit
LONG BEACH — Joey Howorko seems to have it all — talent, smarts and character. The native Canadian is hopeful that recipe will result... Incoming St. Anthony quarterback Joey Howorko hopeful move from Canada will bear fruit

LONG BEACH — Joey Howorko seems to have it all — talent, smarts and character. The native Canadian is hopeful that recipe will result in him playing Division I college football.

First things first. Howorko, who is 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, is the new quarterback at St. Anthony after transferring from Saddleback Valley Christian in San Juan Capistrano.

He comes to the Saints knowing he needs a big junior season if he wants to attract scouts from the bigger schools. He said he already has feelers from Bryant University — a Division I FCS school in Rhode Island — as well as several Ivy League schools and that he appreciates that interest, but he wants more.

“I need to throw over 20 touchdowns this year, I need to get over 2,000 passing yards, I need to get a lot of rushing yards,” Howorko said Wednesday ahead of conditioning drills at Clark Field. “I just need to put up really good highlights this year. I’ve gotten a lot of interest just from my highlights last year because I was a sophomore playing varsity.

“But all the coaches just say, ‘You need to have a really outstanding season. You’ve got good size, you’ve got good arm strength. We just really want to see a good season out of you.’ “

The road traveled

Howorko said ever since he was in the fourth grade playing youth football in Canada, there was talk about him coming to California to toil. He said his mother, Patricia, is into California sports. In the eighth grade, he went to an IMG Academy camp in Florida as a first step of sorts.

St. Anthony quarterback Joey Howorko looks to lead the Saints this fall as the team gets to practicing at Clark Field in Long Beach, CA, on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

“We talked to coaches there and they told my dad (Joe) that, ‘You need to get your son down to America freshman year so he can go to college if he wants to go to college; that’s how, because he can’t really go D-I from Canada,’ ” Howorko said.

He did in 2018, enrolling at St. John Bosco, where star quarterback DJ Uiagalelei resided. Howorko, who played on the freshman team, was there about half a year and then had every intention of playing his sophomore season at Santa Margarita, another Trinity League school.

Howorko transferred and was there for three weeks when then-coach Rich Fisher was fired in January 2019, which is how Howorko landed at Saddleback Valley Christian.

“There was a whole staff revamp (at Santa Margarita),” Howorko said, “so after assessing a lot of stuff I realized I just need to play varsity to get interest from colleges, and so that’s how I found Saddleback Valley Christian.”

The results his sophomore season were a mixed bag. Playing on a rather mediocre team with a small offensive line and the poorest offense in the San Joaquin League — the Warriors averaged only 14.9 points while going 3-7 — Howorko played in all 10 games, starting four.

He threw for 499 yards, three touchdowns and eight interceptions.

“I thought what I had, I liked it a lot,” Howorko said. “We didn’t really have a big O-line. I was actually bigger than almost everybody on our O-line; there was only one player bigger on our O-line. So I learned to scramble a lot.

“But if you see my highlights, when I was put in I made big plays and I executed well.”

SVC in May was bought out by Fairmont Private Schools, which offers secular education, and renamed Fairmont Prep SJC.

Getting to St. Anthony

Howorko learned about St. Anthony from his time at St. John Bosco.

“I just knew people in the area,” he said. “I knew they lost their quarterback from last year; Lucas (Lehmar) graduated and there was an open spot here.”

Saints coach Mario Morales said he is glad Howorko filled that vacancy. For one, he loves Howorko’s attitude.

“He’s just willing to learn the offense, he’s got an open mind-set to learning what we’re doing,” Morales said. “On the athletic side, he’s got a super strong arm and real good feet and he’s very athletic.

“We’re really impressed with some of the things that he’s done on film that we’ve seen. We’re excited to have him.”

Howorko does not lack for confidence. Asked what he brings to the field, he spelled it all out, but did not go overboard.

“I’m a very fast-paced athlete, very smart-minded with the game. I’ve learned from a lot of very talented coaches over the years,” said Howorko, who had a grade-point average in the high 3s at SVC. “I know how to read a defense really well, I know how to put a ball in tight spaces, I can really sense awareness on the field.”

The character of a young man

It’s only been two years since Howorko left Canada to live with a host family in SoCal. He’s aware of the recent civil unrest here, and he had a splendid response when queried about all that.

“I just think everybody’s equal,” Howorko said. “Everybody should be given the same rights, nobody should be looked at just because of their skin color. Everybody’s the same. If I look at you and you look at me, we’re the same.

“Everybody’s got the same mind, everybody’s got the same heart. There’s nothing different about us.”

St. Anthony athletic director Chris Morrison is a Black man who said he experienced his share of racism during his days playing basketball at Western Wyoming Community College and professionally overseas in Finland. He loved what Howorko said.

“To hear a kid who’s 16 years old, to hear his quote, it’s great to hear because hopefully society understands that the new generation thinks differently and wants to see the world change and be different,” Morrison said.

Complete package? Time will tell.


Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 215

Age: 16

Position: Quarterback

Year: Junior

Note: He played youth football for six years in Canada, winning three consecutive provincial titles.