He says starting at QB is no big deal; in fact, sitting was his biggest adjustment.
By ANTHONY GAGLIANO
Published September 10, 2004
TAMPA - Jet Steele knows what everyone is thinking. How is a guy with one varsity start going to take down Jefferson, a defending 3A region finalist?
For three years, the 5-foot-10, 150-pound lefty waited as Sidney Bryant put the face on Chamberlain football. As a sophomore quarterback, Bryant led Chamberlain to the state championship game, then a couple more playoff appearances the past two seasons to run the Chiefs' postseason streak to five.
This year, the team is all Steele's and he's relishing the opportunity.
"It means a lot," said Steele, who also plays basketball and baseball for the Chiefs. "A lot of people think it's new, but it's the same thing. I've started all my life. So sitting was a big deal to me. I never sat the bench, ever."
While Steele's varsity experience consists of one start in Bryant's place last year, he's quarterbacked the Carrollwood Cardinals youth team to a championship. Displaying the poise of a winner, Steele has taken the reins of the team, Chamberlain coach Billy Turner said.
"He acts like this is team," Turner said. "He's in charge. The kids really respect what he can do and he's moved the football team up and down the field."
Turner has been impressed with Steele in limited duty. He led the Chiefs to a couple of scoring drives in their spring jamboree against Hillsborough and connected on two touchdown passes against defending 4A state champion Armwood in a preseason classic at Tropicana Field.
If Steele's one previous start pays any dividends it will be today because one year ago he stepped in for an injured Bryant at Jefferson. The Dragons harassed him with numerous blitzes and stunts, as Steele finished 5-of-20 passing, but he threw a touchdown late in the fourth quarter of Jefferson's 22-9 victory.
Using that knowledge, Steele knows what to expect when the Dragons enter John Adcock Stadium tonight. The fact that most of Jefferson's defensive backs also play on Steele's flag football team spices up the matchup even more.
"They disguise their blitz a lot," Steele said. "So, I learned how to pick up the blitz and I had to throw a lot of deep balls. Usually, I don't throw that many in a game, but I had to throw 15 in the first half."
Hoping to avoid that scenario again, Turner expects tailback Jordan Wilson to lighten Steele's load. Ideally though, Steele would have gained extra experience against Brandon last week before taking on the Dragons. Jefferson managed to get its first game in, beating 2003 Colorado state champions Ponderosa 41-15 at Disney's Wide World of Sports.
"For us to open up against Armwood and Jefferson is good for us," Turner said. "It gets us ready for the rest of our schedule."
Still, the Chiefs desperately want to avoid a repeat of last season, when losses to Brandon and Jefferson forced them to dig out of an 0-2 hole on the way to the playoffs.
"The first game of the season, to me, is the most important," Steele said. "The first loss is always hardest, but sometimes, it takes a first loss for a team to know what they can play like."