Friday, September 17, 1999

Highlands QB filling big shoes

Guidugli making sure Bluebirds don't pine for Lorenzen

Enquirer contributor

Gino Guidugli
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        Highlands junior quarterback Gino Guidugli knew there would be comparisons to his predecessor.

        The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Guidugli isn't putting up the same numbers University of Kentucky freshman Jared Lorenzen did a year ago, but he has led the Bluebirds to a 3-0 record and the state's top Class AAA ranking entering tonight's game at Elder.

        “There's no doubt there's going to be pressure there when you follow a great quarterback like Jared was,” Guidugli said. “Jared taught me a lot when he was here.”

        Actually, Guidugli's statistics are outstanding.

        He's 39 of 63 for 636 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 212 yards per game. His 344-yard passing night Sept. 3 against Campbell County ties that of Covington Catholic's Brett Dietz for the state's second-highest total this year, just 2 yards behind a 346-yard game by Lexington Henry Clay's Shane Boyd.

        “Gino really runs our offense well,” Highlands coach Dale Mueller said. “He can throw it from the pocket; he can do our bootlegs well.”

        Which Campbell County coach Mike Corson found out.

        “He's got such a strong arm, and he's got the ability to move,”

        Corson said. “It's tough to cover both.”

        What Guidugli is doing now is something he's been doing since he was a fifth-grader in the Fort Thomas Pee Wee League. He was a quarterback then, and he made his first impression in a league all-star game.

        “I ran a 60-yard touchdown my first play,” Guidugli said.

        Senior tailback Brenden Zenni, who has caught 10 of Guidugli's passes, admires how he won the starting job from senior Dickie Booth (who was a candidate during spring practice but ruled out football this summer to concentrate on baseball) and junior Jake Donelan.

        “Jared had everything ready for him,” Zenni said. “Gino had to overcome some obstacles. Gino was fighting for it until late summer.”

        Mueller, though, said there never was much of a battle.

        “Gino had a great spring and a great summer at quarterback camp,” he said. “There's a battle for every (other) position, but Gino was the quarterback.”

        Said Guidugli: “In my mind, I knew I was the best quarterback. I still had to go out on the field and prove I was the best quarterback to Coach Mueller and the rest of the team, basically.”

        Lorenzen was offering Guidugli tips long before he left.

        “He taught me a lot: ballhandling, throwing, a lot of things about the game,” Guidugli said. “When things come open, how to read receivers, how to read (defensive backs), a lot of things.”

        Zenni said Guidugli's passes are softer to the touch than Lorenzen's but just as accurate.

        “Jared would knock you back a couple yards,” Zenni said.

        Guidugli's 344 yards against Campbell County compares favorably with two of Lorenzen's best games last year — 365 yards against Scott and 348 against Ryle — which Guidugli mentioned during a Sept.4 visit with Lorenzen in Lexington.

        “He was complaining ... (saying) Coach Mueller lets me throw a whole bunch, talking trash,” Guidugli said. “But it's all fun.”

        Guidugli said if there's one thing he needs to learn, it's being willing to stay in the pocket a little longer.

        “Sometimes I'm in the pocket, and I'll run out there and I'll think there's more pressure than there is,” he said. “I rush things sometimes when I'm out there.”

        Regardless of what happens tonight, Guidugli said his goal never has been to make people forget Lorenzen.

        “I'm going to do what I do regardless of what anybody else thinks,” he said. “... I just want to go out and win. That's all I'm really worried about, getting another state championship for Highlands High School.”


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