Cougar graduate Thomas Fishburne looking to excel at community college level

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Southwestern College’s Devore Stadium was the site of Steele Canyon High School quarterback Thomas Fishburne’s two biggest wins as a senior last season.

The Cougars upset the top-seeded Ramona Bulldogs, 33-29, to win the San Diego Section Division II championship last Dec. 2.

Two weeks later, Steele Canyon capped its eight-game winning streak with a dramatic 44-42 come-from-behind victory against Northern California regional champion Half Moon Bay to claim the California Division 3-A state bowl championship.

Southwestern College’s Devore Stadium was the site of Steele Canyon High School quarterback Thomas Fishburne’s two biggest wins as a senior last season.

The Cougars upset the top-seeded Ramona Bulldogs, 33-29, to win the San Diego Section Division II championship last Dec. 2.

Two weeks later, Steele Canyon capped its eight-game winning streak with a dramatic 44-42 come-from-behind victory against Northern California regional champion Half Moon Bay to claim the California Division 3-A state bowl championship.

Fishburne will be returning to Devore Stadium this season as a member of the Southwestern College Jaguars community college football team.

It is a great steppingstone for the Cougar alumnus.

“I got a couple of offers but I decided to stay here because I felt I didn’t get enough exposure for myself,” the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Fishburne said. “I want to play at a higher level and want to do that by getting more exposure and more experience at the community college level.”

Despite winning last year’s high school state championship, Fisburne said his most exciting moment last season came in the section championship game.

“That was the first time I was playing in front of so many people,” the charismatic former Steele Canyon signal-caller explained. “Looking up in the stands and seeing so many people watching me and my team was so exciting for me.”

Fishburne joins a SWC program on the rise. The Jaguars have appeared in six state bowl games since 2008, winning four of them. The school receives promotion this season from the American Mountain Conference to the National Southern Conference where Southwestern will get a chance to play some of the top teams in the state such as Saddleback, Riverside, Golden West and Orange Coast College.

The upgraded schedule is a big motivating tool for players.

“I don’t know too much about the teams we play because I’m just coming out of high school but for me the goal is always to compete and win,” Fishburne said.

Fishburne earned 12 varsity letters at Steele Canyon by competing in football, basketball and track and field. He said being multi-faceted is his biggest attribute as an athlete.

“The biggest thing is that I’m athletic,” he said. “I like to think game time that I can stay calm, keep the team together and make that last play. I feel making the state run has made me feel more confident.”

Southwestern College head coach Ed Carberry, a member of Monte Vista High School’s Football Hall of Fame, said he believes that the freshman QB can be successful at the next level.

“I think he can play Division II football,” the veteran Jags sideline boss explained. “If he gets a chance at Division I, he can’t make mistakes with the ball. He can make plays on short passes or go deep. He’s got an excellent football sense.”

Fishburne will be joined by a pair of ex-Cougars on this year’s SWC team: cornerbacks Perry Steele and Robert Whitehead.

The Jaguars also have several other former East County prep standouts on their roster this season, including defensive returners Cameron Hanson (Mt. Miguel), Duran Miller (Mt. Miguel) and Jonathan Milsap (Helix) along with newcomer linebacker Landon Wood (Santana). Kameron Tiamalu (Helix) should add depth at the running back position.

Miller recorded 15 sacks last season.

Southwestern kicks off its season with a Sept. 1 home game against San Diego Mesa College. Game time is 6 p.m.

The Jaguars defeated the Olympians, 19-14, last year on the final play of the game to win the American Mountain Conference championship.

Southwestern is also playing Palomar (Sept. 8 at Palomar) and Grossmont (Oct. 20 at West Hills High School) this season. The game against Grossmont will be part of the teams’ National Southern Conference schedule.

“This year we’ll have a true San Diego County champion,” Carberry said. “That should be an extra incentive for all the teams involved.”

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