Time is now for Jasper's Young

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Junior Grant Young (10) competes in a drill Tuesday at practice. Young has slid into the quarterback role for Jasper, and has thrived in the early going.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

JASPER — Grant Young's been on Jasper's quarterback depth chart before, though the junior didn't expect his name to shoot to the top of it the way he did.

The Class 4A-No. 3 Wildcats have rolled to a 5-0 start for the second year in a row, and everything was going along fine with Will Weinzapfel at quarterback — until it wasn't.

"I found out the weekend before the (Evansville) Bosse game that Will was in a boot and had hurt himself," Young said. "So, it was just kind of sprung on me pretty quick — I wasn't really prepared for it."

Weinzapfel had been getting the job done through the first three games of the season. The senior had passed for 302 yards, four touchdowns and rushed for another 229 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Young's been tasked to keep it going following that kind of production, which seemed like a tall order that first practice.

"I didn't do that well," he said. "I was pretty nervous. I was making a lot of bad reads and messing stuff up, but over time, I've been getting better at it — and everybody's been helping me out a lot with that."

But Young wasn't completely new to things because he had gotten reps before as the backup to the graduated Blake Mann. He learned from Mann how to be a good runner and read the option — citing Mann as a good mentor to him.

Mann might no longer be with the program, but Weinzapfel helping Young out while he's been thrust into the quarterback job means he still has somebody to learn from.

"He's helped me with making reads on the run plays and then knowing who to throw on passes, and just helped me just gain some confidence throwing the ball and running the ball and taking care of the offense," Young said.

Wildcats coach Tony Lewis believes Young is like Weinzapfel in a few ways. Both are smart, both listen and both are coachable.

And when Young ripped off a 63-yard touchdown run in the 31-13 win Sept. 17 at Evansville Mater Dei, a similarity of another recent Jasper quarterback popped into Lewis' mind.

"That first touchdown was vintage Blake Mann, but with Grant running it," Lewis said.

The third-year Wildcats coach described Young's touchdown run as inside play that Young ran out the back side of it — which was something Mann did in the past. Lewis noted that not many quarterbacks see that, but Mann did, and so did Young.

Lewis also lauded Young for being somebody a team would want leading them as their quarterback.

"You want your quarterback to be somebody that people trust, people would jump in a foxhole with, people would run through a brick wall for," he said. "And Grant's that type of person because he gives great effort. His teammates know he's working hard, his teammates know that he cares about them and if your teammates know you care about them and your teammates know that you want what's best for them, then they're more than likely to do things the way they should do them."

Young not only possesses the traits sought after in a quarterback, but he's also been accumulating the numbers to complement the qualities that he has. He's 6-of-11 passing for 103 yards, while adding 142 yards on the ground with four total touchdowns on the season.

But Weinzapfel won the job before the Aug. 20 opener at Evansville Memorial, and he never lost it. It's an inevitable situation that Lewis will have to address. Weinzapfel is due to be evaluated again in a few weeks, and Lewis is hoping to get him back by the playoffs.

Like everything in Jasper's program, it would be an open competition between the two of them. Both would be evaluated on how they look in practice, and the coaches would have to go with a gut decision on whom they think would give them the best chance to win.

Only one player can get the starting quarterback nod, but both of them can have a job when the time comes.

"If it's Grant, then Will has played defensive end leading into his quarterback days," Lewis said. "So, he could play defensive end, he could play linebacker for us. If it's Will, Grant has played some strong safety for us, some DB for us. So, both of them are going to have to be able to play a defensive position if the other one plays quarterback."

So, at least for the time being, the Wildcats will keep moving along with the spotlight on Young. His next task is trying to finally lead them past an Evansville Central team that has beaten them three times in the last two years — including twice in the playoffs.

"We're not treating anything like a revenge game, but we know they've beaten us quite a few times in the last few years," Young said. "We're all really focused on this game and we want to get a win."




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