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Calling the Shots:

Lyon to be a part of Rose Bowl

December 23, 2009|By Steve Virgen

When Ned Lyon arrived for the fall semester at Oregon, there was something gnawing at him. Call it regret. But it was something urging him to try the game he left behind at Newport Harbor High.

He hated how his final football season with the Sailors ended. They won their last game, but they missed the playoffs after a bizarre process to determine postseason berths among five teams in the Sunset League. White-out bottles were picked out of a wooden bucket and Newport Harbor missed the playoffs.

When it came to football, Lyon wasn’t ready to kick the bucket as a player.

At Oregon, Lyon didn’t care that the season had already started for the Ducks. He wanted another crack at the game.

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Now he’s with Oregon in its postseason, preparing for the Rose Bowl, a big game against Ohio State Jan. 1. Lyon will be on the sideline in a jersey, but not dressed in pads or a helmet. He’s a redshirt this year, but a part of the team, nonetheless.

Pretty remarkable, considering he basically tried out for the team on a whim.

He competed against 40 other players, all vying for three roster spots on the first day of the fall semester. Lyon had to stay after the tryout for another evaluation because he was trying to make the team as a long-snapper. He was the backup long-snapper at Newport Harbor and hoped that would help him at Oregon.

“I never had a varsity long snap in a game,” said Lyon, who’s in Newport Beach until Christmas. “It’s kind of crazy that you don’t have a high school long snap your whole career, but then you can walk on to a No. 7-ranked team that is playing in the Rose Bowl and is the Pac-10 champion.”

On Friday night, Lyon, along with the rest of the Ducks will check in to their hotel in Pasadena. Then on Saturday morning they will begin practicing at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

Lyon is looking forward to the practices, yet he’s also naturally excited to enjoy the festivities. A day at Disneyland is on the itinerary, as well as a feast at the annual Beef Bowl at Lawry’s The Prime Rib restaurant in Beverly Hills.

During the game, he plans to pump up the crowd along the sideline. Maybe next year, he’ll get some playing time.

He’s planning to do all he can now to make it happen.

Even though he’s a long-snapper now, he sometimes practices with the kickoff and punt-return teams.

“I’ll try to get some recognition to maybe broaden my playing chances,” he said.

The practices and his role on the team are a bit humbling for Lyon, who was a team captain at Newport Harbor, where he played linebacker and tight end. He earned Daily Pilot Dream Team honors, as well as second-team all-league recognition as a senior.

“I don’t do much during practices,” Lyon said. “It’s a complete role reversal from what I did in high school. I went from being the captain to being the lowest man on the totem pole, but I’m enjoying the ride and I can’t complain.”


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