Name: Camren Torneden
School: Lawrence Free State
Common knowledge in football is that a quarterback should be tall enough to see over his offensive lineman so he can effectively see down field when passing. Camren Torneden spent his two years as Lawrence Free State’s starting quarterback dispelling this idea.
A few quarterback injuries early in the 2008 season left Free State coach Bob Lisher in a quandary of who to start at quarterback in replacement duty. Ultimately Lisher decided to start Torneden, hoping the dynamo athlete could mock some of the big plays Ryan Murphy delivered out of the zone read option offense several years before. That coaching decision may have proven to be the best of Lisher’s coaching career, as Torneden did little to disappoint.
After a bit of a rough start at 3-3, Torneden and the Firebirds began clicking and reeled off six straight victories to reach the 6A state championship game. Along the way they beat heavily favored units from SM Northwest, Olathe North, and Blue Valley. Free State lost the state championship game to Junction City 19-14, but their run with Torneden as quarterback was incredible. He had amassed 1,362 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, in addition to 1,042 passing yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 games as the starting quarterback. Torneden received First-Team All-Sunflower League honors for his efforts as a junior.
Free State graduated a very talented senior class in 2009, but with Torneden at the helm their chances of making another state title were still just as good. Free State went 7-2 during the 2009 regular season, then beat Olathe East 38-7 in the Regional Round of the playoffs to advance to Sectionals to play Olathe North. Despite three touchdown passes from Torneden, Free State wasn’t able to repeat their playoff magic again as they lost to eventual state champion Olathe North 41-28.
During the season Torneden put up 1,362 yards and 13 touchdowns through the air, and rushed for 935 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also returned three punts for touchdowns, and played cornerback on defense. He was once again First-Team All-Sunflower League at quarterback, in addition to garnering First Team All-State Class 6A honors. All told, Torneden’s 5,000 plus career all-purpose yards were amazing considering he was a starting quarterback for only two seasons—and significantly shorter than the “prototypical” quarterback.