Three years ago, Teddy Booras and Jake Calcagno were freshmen at California High, competing for the quarterback spot at the San Ramon high school.
Booras ended up winning the job in the run centric offense and a friendship was born between the two.
Fast forward to this season.
Booras and Calcagno – the quarterback and his favorite target – have set the local football world on fire as the duo has led the Grizzlies to a 4-0 mark, pacing an offense that is averaging 52 points a game.
For Booras it is a far cry for someone that only went out for freshman football because it was the cool thing to do, and initially went out for tight end as opposed to quarterback.
“I went out for football for fun. I played football when I was 10, then stopped because I didn’t like the sport,” said the 6-foot-2, 195 pound Booras. “My priority was baseball. I thought I could make some good friends playing football.”
He did, and now football has made a serious run at being the primary sport.
After two years, (he was on the varsity as a sophomore), in the "run first - pass maybe" offense for former Cal coach Eric Billeci, Booras got the coaching change he needed when iconic prep coach Danny Calcagno came out of retirement to run the Grizzlies.
Calcagno, a former high-octane quarterback, is a former San Leandro and Chabot College coach. He turned San Leandro into a powerhouse and developed quarterbacks like Dennis Dixon, the former Oregon Duck and NFL quarterback for five different teams.
He is also the father of Jake, and when he took over the Grizzlies during the pandemic, he started the metamorphosis of Booras from a quarterback who was more of a caddy that handed the ball off to a gunslinger.
It was a tough start as COVID prevented Calcagno from running full team workouts until the spring, as opposed to the summer before and then the fall season.
“During COVID, we had about two weeks to put in the offense,” explained Danny. “But Teddy picked it up and had a great junior year.”
It also helps when your best friend happens to be a receiver, as well as the coach’s son.
“We’d go to the park, and it was just like throwing the ball around with your friends,” explained Booras. “That helped me to have some success and put up some decent numbers my junior season.”
In the shortened six-game spring season, Booras threw for 1,236 yards and seven touchdowns with six interceptions. Calcagno was by far the leading receiver with 56 catches, three of which were touchdowns.
“When the quarantine started, we hung out at the park, running routes and playing catch,” said Jake. “That’s when we became best friends. We both have a feel for each other when we are on the field.”
What the duo started as juniors has carried over to their senior year. Through the first four games, Booras has thrown for 769 yards and 14 touchdowns with only two interceptions.
Calcagno already has 30 receptions and 10 touchdowns. That’s a blistering pace for a 10-game season. At this pace, Calcagno would finish with 75 receptions and 25 touchdowns.
“(Being close friends) has a lot to do with our success,” said Booras. “We are both so competitive – when we play basketball, we are in each other’s face.”
That leads to some give and take during games.
“(Booras) is the best quarterback I could ask for,” said Jake. “We have the type of relationship where we can get on each other when we are slacking.”
And when one of them makes a mistake during the game?
“In the game against Milpitas, he missed me on a fade route when I was wide open,” said Jake, laughing. “I got on him when we got back to the bench, and he wasn’t happy. By the time we got the ball again we were back to normal, and we got a touchdown. But I had to let him know about it.”
If having Danny as a coach already made a big difference for Booras, Calcagno brought in former University of Cal-Berkeley and NFL quarterback Mike Pawlawski to the Grizzlies staff.
For someone that has been playing quarterback in a passing offense for about nine months, the talent is amazing.
“His accuracy is one of the best I have ever seen,” said Danny of Booras. “His arm strength is incredible. We were in practice the other day, and he was on the run and hit Jake right on the money 55 yards down field. I couldn’t be happier with his development.”
Others are catching on. Last weekend when Cal had a bye week, Booras was back on an unofficial visit to Mississippi State. From a baseball player who really didn’t like football to a prospective Division 1 quarterback in the SEC has left Booras is trying to wrap his hands around what has happened in the last year.
“It’s actually crazy with everything going on,” said Booras, who insists he has not yet determined whether it will be football or baseball he pursues in college.
Danny knows Booras can play at the next level.
“One hundred percent,” said Danny when asked if he thought Booras could be a college quarterback. “I know he can play at any level.”
The areas he still needs work on are to be expected.
“He still has to work on the intellectual side,” said Danny. “Learning to read different types of coverage and he has to learn to trust the process.”
“Being a quarterback with not a lot of experience, means that I have a lot to learn about the position,” said Booras. “I would categorize myself as a ‘pro-style’ quarterback so my speed and running ability could be improved.”
Booras also benefits from Danny’s competitiveness.
“We have competitions at practice, and he can kick my (rear end),” said Booras with a laugh.
Jake – just a touch under 6-feet-tall – runs a 4.65, 40-yard dash and has all the tools you would expect from a coaches’ son.
“He has really good balls skills and runs good routes,” said Danny of his son.
Being a coach’s son is never an easy thing -- but Jake embraces having his dad running the program.
“My dad has always been my coach in all the sports I played,” said Jake. “I think (having Danny as the coach) is a good thing for Teddy and me. He knows so much about the game.”