Two quarterbacks have helped SouthridgeNovember 7, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
HUNTINGBURG — There’s an old football adage which states that a team with two quarterbacks has no quarterback. However, the success of the Southridge Raiders this season probably throws a wrench into that old-school line of thinking.
The Raiders (9-2) had two quality athletes who competed for the starting spot at quarterback in junior Chase Taylor and sophomore Carson Niehaus. But when it was all said and done, Taylor wound up getting the nod to start in Week One. He performed admirably at the position for the first couple of weeks, but one play during the Raiders’ third game against Forest Park on Sept. 6 changed everything in a flash.
“It was a pass play," Taylor said. "So I rolled out, saw one of their outside linebackers come and instead of tucking and running, I tried to find the receiver for too long. Instead of getting out of bounds, I tried to see if I could get the edge and get a couple of yards. He grabbed my shoulder, pulled himself up on top and fell. I landed on my shoulder, heard it snap, rolled through it and I felt it shift under [the skin].”
Taylor suffered a broken collarbone and was ruled out for the next eight to 10 weeks. Losing the starting quarterback is a setback that could easily tank most team’s seasons. But at Southridge, the attitude has always been, “Next man up” when it comes to these kind of situations. So with that, Niehaus not only finished the game against the Rangers, but also accepted the challenge of leading the Raiders for the next few weeks.
“Coach always told me to be ready just in case it’s my time to step up and be the leader of the game,” Niehaus said. “With Chase going down, I had to be ready.”
Niehaus said he was nervous at the start of the next game on Sept. 13 against the North Posey Vikings, but he credited his teammates with welcoming him into the starter’s role. The nerves wore off after a few plays for the sophomore signal caller as the Raiders went on to beat the Vikings, 37-7. Niehaus proved to be more than just a stand-in, as he threw for eight touchdowns while guiding Southridge to a 4-2 record in the ensuing six weeks.
“He made it look pretty easy,” coach Scott Buening said. “It’s not supposed to be that easy when you’re a young sophomore who’s only been playing quarterback for a year. Our offense has a lot of movements and intricacies in it. We should have never been able to just continue to run our offense, and we were because of what Carson did and his preparation. We played some pretty solid teams in that stretch when Chase was out, and we had a chance to win every single one of them.”
Yet while Niehaus was out on the field running the offense, Taylor was still active on the sidelines while his collarbone healed, talking to Niehaus about what plays to run or how to approach the next drive. Taylor said that he and Niehaus didn’t always see eye to eye in terms of how to proceed on the field, but that was just a result of two competitors who had strong feelings about how to win. He said being involved with the team in that manner helped him cope with the fact that he couldn’t be out on the field with his teammates during that time.
“Coach B said your role is amplified because now you have to learn how to use all your powers to lead this team without using your actions,” Taylor said. “I took that as a challenge. I think helping the team without pads on was important for helping me cope with it. I didn’t want to sit out, so I had to carry myself with a different attitude so I would be able to do my job as a leader.
“Chase was always next to me giving me tips, just trying to get me to be the best I can to lead the team to victory,” Niehaus added.
Taylor finally healed enough to step back into the starting role in Southridge’s first-round sectional game Oct. 25 against the Mount Vernon Wildcats, when he scored three total touchdowns in a 43-14 Raiders victory. Niehaus confessed that it was hard to take a step back after what he had achieved in his six weeks as the starter, but he accepted his coach’s decision and didn’t let a bitter attitude taint his feelings about Taylor or the team as a whole.
“It was tough, but I love Chase as a person and a player,” Niehaus said. “He earned that spot himself, and I think he deserves it. It was tough, but I was fine with it.”
“It was one of the hardest conversations I’ve had to have with a young man,” Buening added. “It’s hard to sit there and look at a kid who’s done everything you’ve asked him to. As a young man, [Niehaus] totally understood and got it. He just went right back to work and he’s controlled the things he’s in control of.”
Niehaus said the six weeks he started at quarterback were some of the most exhilarating moments of his life. He’ll go back to working hard in practice, but the team knows it has the benefit of calling on his services in the future, and he will always be ready to seize the moment.
“You got to always be ready just in case something ever happens again,” Niehaus said. “You never know.”
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