Saratoga Springs • One of the most difficult things a teenager can do is make a major move while still in high school.
But Westlake junior quarterback John Ursua seems to have made the transition quite well from spending his freshman year on the Big Island of Hawaii and then moving to Utah to be with his mom.
“It was tough,” he said. “Mostly, it was leaving my dad, who is someone so huge in my life, and my friends. It was tough for them. I didn’t get an opportunity to say goodbye to anyone. It happened quick.”
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound all-around athlete is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the state early in Utah’s high school football season. After throwing for 1,376 yards and 13 touchdowns last year as a sophomore when the Thunder went 4-6 in the school’s first year, Ursua has been outstanding in his team’s two easy victories over Delta and Maple Mountain to open the season.
He has thrown six touchdowns and rushed for two others. There is talk that the new school on the west side of Utah Lake could figure into the Class 4A state tournament mix this season, something that didn’t happen a year ago.
Ursua said that while the amount of talent in Utah and Hawaii is similar, he feels the coaching is better on the mainland and that there are more opportunities to get known here.
He said his natural position is as a slotback — a position he hopes to play in college. He was surprised when coach Jason Walker moved him to quarterback.
“I was familiar with this offense [a shotgun spread],” said Ursua. “I have been running it for three years now, though I was uncomfortable in the beginning.”
The fact that he has good receivers in Brandon Allstead and Nate Jensen and some strong offensive linemen in Manny Teoalii and Andy Toala does not hurt, either.
“He’s a good quick kid with a good sense of the game,” said Walker about his quarterback. “He is a gifted athlete.”
The quarterback who plans on going on a Mormon mission when he graduates “so I can stand up for something,” enjoys playing football.
“When it is the game you love, everything is so fun,” he said. “I like the intensity, everything going on and the crowd. I love hearing people screaming and yelling. It’s great to be out there on the field.”
Ursua might hear cheering for other sports as well. He also plays basketball, soccer and volleyball and runs the speed events in track.
In the rare times when he is not participating in sports, he enjoys simply hanging out with his friends and relaxing.
For now, though, Ursua is playing so well that opponents are not going to be able to relax when he’s on the field.