By WES FERGUSON
It’s a story line straight out of every TV show or movie about high school football in Texas.
The senior quarterback, the stud, the guy who broke every school passing record as a junior, gets hurt in the second quarter of the final game before district. His backup has barely sniffed the playing field until now, and it shows. The offense sputters and must rely on its defense to hang on for a 14-10 victory.
Now the backup is making his first-ever start on varsity. In the rain. Against the school’s biggest rival. To say that Hays junior Jeff Jordan is feeling the pressure filling in for Caleb Kimbro is an understatement.
“Caleb has been my inspiration ever since I was a freshman,” Jordan said. “I thought about that a lot before the game, actually.”
But the coaches cook up a game plan that’s heavy on handoffs. They don’t ask him to make a lot of decisions, just protect the ball. And he does. Jordan doesn’t throw a pass until the second quarter, but when he does he reels off five straight completions.
By the end of the night, Jordan has completed 7 of 9 passes for 67 yards, with no interceptions and his first touchdown pass, and the Hays Rebels have rolled to a 28-10 victory over the Lehman Lobos.
“Running the team, Jeffrey couldn’t have done a better job,” Rebels head coach Blake Feldt said. “When we needed to milk the clock, he milked the clock. When we needed to hurry, he hurried. Throwing the ball, he didn’t make any mistakes all night long. He made good decisions, he made good throws, and he took care of the ball.”
Jordan benefited from a bye week that gave him extra time to practice with the first-team offense. He also got a lift from the dominant Rebels defense, not to mention a huge night from running backs Taven Mayberry and Marco Solis, who combined for 304 rushing yards, and from the sure hands of senior wide receiver Granger Studdard, who hauled in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jordan in the second quarter.
“It was definitely a change from Caleb, but Jeff stepped up big time and got us the ball when we needed it,” Studdard said. “We know we have depth at quarterback now. He stepped up and came through for us.”
Jordan admitted he wasn’t ready for prime time when Kimbro was injured against Rouse, although he managed to complete 5 of 9 passes for 58 yards in that game.
“That was my first actual time staying in a game longer than a quarter,” Jordan said. “It happened all of a sudden. I practiced a lot more (before facing the Lobos), and the first pass I threw, I completed. Throughout the game I felt more and more confident.”
Kimbro suited up against Lehman but was not needed, giving him an extra four quarters to rest the shoulder he strained against Rouse. Vowing to return in time for the Rebels’ next district showdown against Kerrville Tivy, Kimbro added that he was glad Jordan got some unexpected playing time to season him up before his senior year.
“He controlled the game, and that’s what he needed to do,” Kimbro said. “He did a great job of it. You hate being hurt, but knowing you can still win a game with Jeff, that’s a great feeling.”