Posted by Bryan Fischer
CARSON, Calif. -- One of the top offensive linemen in Southern California, plenty of doubters thought offensive lineman Max Tuerk's Santa Margarita (Calif.) team didn't deserve to play for the state championship. For awhile, late Friday night at the Home Depot Center, Tuerk was one of them.
That was until the Eagles started marching down the field, putting together a eight-play, 79-yard drive that had them inches from the lead on 4th down. It was every linemen's dream to have the game - and a title - on the line in that situation and thanks to quarterback Johnny Stanton's keeper with seconds left on the clock, Tuerk's came true.
"It was the best game of my life," he said after Santa Margarita's 42-37 win over Bellarmine Prep (Calif.). "I didn't even think we were going to win, I was kind of scared to be honest. But we pulled it out. The underclassmen really played great and it was a great game."
The 6-foot-6, 254-pounder is ranked as the 17th-best offensive tackle in the country by MaxPreps but played at multiple spots along the line in the win. Tuerk helped pave the way for the do-everything Stanton, who finished with 306 yards passing and six total touchdowns.
"I like moving around," he said. "It's fun to get a little guard work in.
"We played pretty good today. There were a couple of sacks we gave up but we played pretty well when it came down to it."
Tuerk is Santa Margarita's top recruit in the class of 2012 but the young team features two underclass linemen receiving early interest from FBS programs in Erik Bunte and Riley Sorenson. Bunte holds an early scholarship offer from SMU and figures to gain a long look from UCLA now that former offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has moved to Westwood. While Tuerk departs a California Division I state champion, the affable tackle hopes it's just the beginning of a run for the school.
"We want to keep the tradition going," he said. "They're all studs, Coach (Marty) Spalding is an awesome coach, we owe all our credit to him."
"There are probably three or four D-1 guys on that line," Stanton said. "You don't get many O-lines like that in the entire United States in high school. It's huge having those guys and all of them support each other and us."
Tuerk had a solid junior season in 2010 but didn't see heavy interest from scholarships until the following spring. He committed to USC in late May and recently received an in-home visit from the coaching staff to check in on him.
"Coach (Ed) Orgeron did a couple of weeks ago," Tuerk said. "(I'll visit) January 13th."
Several members of the Trojans coaching staff were on hand last week to see Tuerk battle one of Southern California's other top tackles, Kyle Murphy, in the CIF Southern Section Championship. With a coaching staff change across town at UCLA, many are looking for signs of waffling among the nine USC commitments. With offensive line coach James Cregg among those in attendance Friday night, Tuerk remains firmly committed despite other schools' interest in getting his signature before Signing Day.
"They tried talking to me but I'm 100% USC," he said. "Nobody's really (coming after me), I've told them I'm 100% USC."