The Dean's List: Page finally feels at home… here

Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 11:50pm
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Doug (seated) and Kurt Page / Jude Ferrara, The City Paper

Logging considerable travel mileage has become a staple in the portfolio of Doug Page.

As Page literally turns the page to start his senior year in high school, he’s beginning a new journey – trying to lead Franklin Road Academy down a road to the playoffs. So far he’s led the Panthers (2-1) to two straight wins — the latest a 32-14 win in their DII and home opener over St. Benedict Sept. 4.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Page clearly has knockout football genes. He’s the son of FRA athletic director Kurt Page, a former star at Father Ryan and Vanderbilt, a school where he still holds a number of Commodore passing records.

“It’s fun looking at the tapes and the film clips of his playing days,’’ Doug said. “What’s so interesting is how the game has changed and evolved so much since then.’’

Kurt Page served as a grad assistant at Texas A&M under Coach Jackie Sherrill, then held head coaching jobs at BGA, then at Ryan, his alma mater. In ’97, he guided the Irish to the DII state crown. After that, the moving started.

Doug, who is Page’s eldest child, was born in Brentwood in 1991. He has played football nearly all his life, from the time he started with the Brentwood Blaze in the fourth grade.

The Page family relocated to Huntsville, Ala., where Page took the job as Randolph High athletic director.

Doug played for a team his father started up in the junior leagues when he was 12.Then, Kurt took the job as head coach at AD at St. Thomas High, a prestigious Catholic school in Houston where Doug entered his freshman year at age 15.

After competing as a freshman, Doug became the starter his sophomore year when the regular QB got injured.

“Doug started his high school career in Texas and spent two years playing against some of the toughest players in the game. With each year, he became more driven to improve himself and to better the team. He’s very self motivated with a strong work ethic.’’

The 'call up'

In the spring of that sophomore year, Kurt Page got the call for the job as FRA athletic director. For several reasons, decided to return to his home roots.

“Doug has always been accepting of change,’’ his father said. “He has always looked at the moves as opportunities to gain new experiences.’’

“Moving was tough each time,’’ Doug Page said. “Each place was different, Huntsville had a small town feel, Houston is huge, one of the biggest cities in the U.S., and Nashville is kind of in between, just about right.

“I established great friendships each place I went. Every place was fun. It was about then that I started to learn the process of team play and the developing of team chemistry,’’ he said. “But the transition was difficult each time, moving furniture, things like that. It got old lifting those sofas.’’

Perhaps the last move to Nashville proved to be a bit of divine intervention, albeit bittersweet.

In January, Page’s wife Candy was diagnosed with colon and rectal cancer and began treatments. Then in March, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which has been treated.

“She’s undergone three surgeries,’’ Page said. “We have four months to go on chemo for the colon and rectal cancer. The last few months have been an ordeal.

“One silver lining is that Dr. Alan Herline, the colon cancer specialist at Vanderbilt, is her doctor. Not only is he is an excellent doctor, he was the punter when I played at Vanderbilt and we’ve remained good friends.

In his junior year at FRA, Doug Page was called upon to play quarterback, running back, slot back and some on defense, due mainly to injuries as the team finished with four wins in 10 tries.

“I was glad to do anything that coach (David) Pack asked me to do,’’ he said.

Football really is his life

Page can remember his father coaching Father Ryan. “I’d run around the sidelines and behind the bleachers, throwing the ball around,’’ he said. “I love those Friday nights.’’

“Football has been a part of our family his whole life,’’ Kurt said. “Doug and I have played catch in the yard or talked football just like a lot of dads and sons do and we’ll watch games together. He’s grown up in coaches’ offices, drawing on erase boards while coaches map out their plan. It’s been a part of our lives.’’

Doug has a younger brother Nick, 14, a freshman WB/DB for FRA. A third-grader Hale, 9, plays flag football.

Among colleges Page is looking at include UT-Martin (where Page said has already offered him a full ride), along with UT-Chattanooga. He likely will decide between those two, with Western Kentucky, Furman and MTSU also in the picture. “I definitely want to stay in a climate where it’s warm, I hate cold weather,’’ he said, laughing.

The last two games have been very warm for Page. He rushed for 190 yards and three touchdowns as FRA crushed Riverside Christian 34-7. Against St. Benedict, Page rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 134 and two more scores. The 317 yards total offense was a career high. He has 483 yards rushing in three games.

On Friday, FRA will host powerhouse Knox Webb.

Asked about the season, he said, “I feel pretty good about it,’’ he said. “Last year, we had a lot of young guys, but this year, we are an improved team. Last year, I saw how the seniors did their part in terms of leadership. This year, I want to do the same.’’

His favorite quarterback? “(Florida’s) Tim Tebow. I love his leadership and how he carries himself on and off the field,’’ he said.

Leading his team’s journey to the playoffs will carry Doug Page just fine.