Freshmen lead the way for the EC football team


Jeremy Taylor

Cole Klayman and Jerman Gotoy pose before their game against No. 2 Riverside College.

El Camino quarterback Cole Klayman deliberately guides the offense in practice while fellow freshmen quarterbacks, Jerman Gotoy and Aaron Thomas, anxiously spectate, waiting for their reps.

One good quarterback is hard to find, two capable quarterbacks rarely happens, three quality quarterbacks is an afterthought.

After battling it out in camp this summer, EC started the season with confidence that three separate quarterbacks could lead their team at any given moment.

“You’re lucky to get one, you’re grateful to get two, and you’re blessed to have three that can win football games for you,” Head Coach Gifford Lindheim said.

Thomas won the starting job out of camp after a tedious evaluation process from EC coaches, largely measured by the efficiency and consistency of each quarterback throughout camp, until a first quarter collision in the first game changed everything.

Thomas scrambled down the middle of the field when a defender took his legs out, causing him to smack his head on the turf which resulted in a game ending concussion for the EC quarterback.

Without warming up, Gotoy entered the game prepared to begin his college football journey, one he imagined would be favorable.

“I threw an interception my first time in the game,” Gotoy said.

The nerves and the excitement briefly overwhelmed Jerman, contributing to his next play being a fumbled snap that EC recovered.

Jermans first two plays as a college football player were a disaster.

“I told my whole team that I would make up for it,” Gotoy said.

It’s safe to say he didn’t disappoint, Gotoy’s next play from scrimmage resulted in a long touchdown run on a quarterback keeper, breaking three tackles along the way.

“I just waited and then made the best of my opportunities,” Gotoy said.

His competitiveness and strength were in full effect, much like they had been when EC recruited him.

“I was really impressed, honestly with his guts,” Offensive Coordinator Tim Kaub said. “I remember saying to Giff, we got to recruit that guy, that kid is tough.”

Gotoy wasn’t the only one to impress after Thomas went down, in the second quarter, Cole Klayman, transfer from Shippensburg University, entered and immediately led EC to a touchdown.

“I went out there and made sure I was accurate and efficient with the ball,” Klayman said.

Midway through the season, Klayman is ranked as one of the top Junior College quarterbacks in the state.

“I love putting in the work, I love putting in the hours, it’s something, if I wasn’t doing it, I wouldn’t like it,” Klayman said. “This is what I love to do.”

The Warriors were blessed with a good problem to have.

“Once I got hurt, the next guy stepped up, Cole and Jerm stepped up,” Thomas said.

Stepping up is something Klayman and Gotoy are seemingly used to.

Cole started his football playing career at linebacker and didn’t begin playing quarterback until the eighth grade.

“I think a lot of those skills that you learn playing linebacker and the physicality of it translates to playing quarterback,” Klayman said. “Its something not a lot of quarterbacks have because they grow up with the training since they’re young and they don’t really know what the other positions are like.”

Klayman’s time spent leading the opposite side of the ball has paid huge dividends towards his mentality as a quarterback.

“You don’t know until you get into a fight, Cole is very tough and a competitor, he wants to win,” Lindheim said.

Both have been athletes much of their life which has contributed to competitive, tough individuals with unbelievable talent.

“He has a really high ceiling, Jerman’s super talented and the best has yet to come with him,” Lindheim said.

Gotoy is motivated and inspired to prove he is the best so his mother sees him succeed.

“I fed it to my son as if it were breakfast, ‘There’s no one better than you,'” Jerman’s mother, Loraine Hackett, said.

That confidence instilled in him growing up has noticeably impacted his development as a young leader.

“Jerms got more swagger than you could ever imagine,” Lindheim said. “He enters the room, he’s got a big personality, guys want to follow him.”

All that swagger has come in handy on the field allowing Gotoy to make mind-blowing plays like scrambling down the sideline and jumping over opposing players for touchdowns.

Klayman’s fire and desire is released when he leads the offense down for a touchdown and filled with excitement, flashes a Hulk Hogan flex towards the sideline.

“They have the ability to play fast,” Thomas said. “They both have division one potential, they both have amazing talent, they both show that they can lead and throw the ball accurately, they can read the defenses as well, they have D1 potential.”

Top to bottom, this is one of the deepest quarterback rotations EC has had.

Klayman is largely recognized by his toughness and compact delivery.

Gotoy creates with intangible playmaking skills and athleticism, while Aaron brings a professional approach to the game.

All three of these quarterbacks allows the team and offense to maintain an identity that is unlimited.

“They’ve made it the hardest it’s ever been (to decide who to play), in a good way,” said Kaub.