Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009 | 2:44 p.m.
Playing with four running backs that have Division I potential in a rush-heavy offense like Palo Verde's trademark double wing isn't an ideal scenario for a quarterback.
But that was the task given to Kelly Zurowski during the 2008 season, and the senior willingly accepted it. Zurowski ended up making the most of his opportunities to throw when he got them, completing 57 of his 94 attempts for 1,135 yards as Palo Verde finished 14-1.
Through the Panthers' 10 regular season games and initial four playoff games, Zurowski threw 17 touchdowns with just one interception.
"I think we ended up throwing the ball about as much as anybody except teams that run a spread offense," Zurowski said. "I was happy to get the ball to guys like Torin Harris and Chaz Thomas, guys that are going to play Division I football."
For his efforts, Zurowski was honored with the Mike O'Callaghan "Go For Broke" award during Palo Verde's awards banquet last month. The award, which has been presented annually by the Home News for more than 20 years, goes to a player who isn't regularly recognized but goes above and beyond to help his team excel.
The award, created by former Home News publisher Gov. Mike O'Callaghan, was established in honor of Japanese-Americans who fought in World War II while their families were locked up in internment camps following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
O'Callaghan, who died in 2004, admired the soldiers of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team for their heroic accomplishments in battle and named the award for their motto, "Go For Broke."
"That award definitely fits Kelly," Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said. "He is the kind of kid who would do anything for the team, put the team in front of self glory. He led by example. He was the first one to practice and the last one to leave. He is a 4.0 student in the classroom and a great kid to have in your program."
Zurowski doubled as a starting strong safety. On a defense full of stars like Harris, a USC commit, and Division I bound linebacker Liloa Nobriga, Zurowski still made an impact. He was fifth on the team in solo tackles (25) and recorded 73 total tackles on the season.
"In our defense, the strong safety has to come up and play linebacker a lot and be physical," Rost said. "Kelly did a great job with that. He made some huge open field tackles during the season."
Zurowski said his only regret was falling short of a state championship, as Palo Verde lost 13-12 in the state final to Reno's McQueen High.
"It was a great season," he said. "What I'll remember most is the team. We played together for so long, for 15 games. All my best friends are on the team, and I had a lot of fun playing with them."
Christopher Drexel can be reached at 990-8929 or [email protected].