DEER PARK – Every coach will tell you that a “next man up” mentality is key to have within your program. Just be ready to be the next man up.
Jacob McAdams, a 6-foot-3 sophomore quarterback, was slotted as the backup for the Deer heading into Friday’s meeting with Clear Brook. A chance for the Deer to get off to a 4-0 start for the first time in eight seasons.
McAdams went through all the pre-game warm-ups on the field and was ready to go – if needed.
On Friday, the sophomore was needed.
On the opening drive, Deer Park starting quarterback Rafael Robles scrambled into the end zone for what seemed to be the first score of the night. It was called back due to a flag, but Robles went to the sideline.
A shoulder injury would knock the senior out for the rest of the night. Step in McAdams.
“I just went into straight game mode,” he said.
McAdams, who had some JV experience under his belt, was immediately thrust into the limelight of Friday Night Lights.
Through the first half, McAdams was able to manage the game. He did throw an interception but he did get the offense in place for rushing scores by Reed Mallett and Erasmo “Mo” Canales, to tie Clear Brook 14-14 at the half.
“That was a great time to sit down and even coaching-wise dial back the playbook a little bit,” Deer Park coach Austin Flynn said about the halftime break. “What we feel comfortable with and when he does and collaborate from there. I thought our staff adjusted well.”
Coming out in the third quarter, McAdams looked comfortable and confident.
A completion to Hayden Smith across the middle that he then took deep into Clear Brook territory seemed to boost the confidence of the young signal-caller.
“We got the spark,” Smith said.
To cap the drive, McAdams rolled out to his right and on the run hit Smith in the endzone for what would be his first career passing touchdown.
“I was just a lot calmer, we started driving the ball at the end of the first half,” McAdams said. “I got a little bit more comfortable.”
Once the Deer offense got rolling, it was hard to stop.
Canales was a workhorse in the backfield, chewing up yard after yard. Mallett, who is the Deer’s starting linebacker, would come in on special redzone packages and be the “hammer”, trying to punch it in on direct-snap runs.
Then there was McAdams, growing up right before everyone’s eyes. Making big-time throws and then even using his legs and busting off double-digit yardage runs.
“He got comfortable when he got going,” Smith said. “He started throwing real good footballs, he got comfortable in the offense, and he looked natural out there.”
The Deer went on to score 21 points in the third-quarter – including a second touchdown pass from McAdams to tight end Drew Ganoe – alone to go on to win 35-14 and improve to 4-0 on the season.
“That was very fun,” McAdams said with a smile.
For the young quarterback, Flynn – who also played the position in high school at Deer Park – said the confidence being built through the game was big.
“Nerves a little bit but then I think he calmed down and made some bigtime throws, particularly in that third quarter to get us going,” Flynn said. “I’m proud of him, he obviously was prepared.”
Once the game had ended on Friday night it was evaluation time and time is something that Flynn and his staff do not have a lot of.
With a short week, playing Dobie on Thursday, the quarterback competition begins on Monday afternoon. Robles could be still out with injury, leaving McAdams, junior Keaton Erdmann and sophomore Landon Kieselhorst to duke it out.
“It’ll be a short week, that’ll be the hard part,” Flynn said. “We just have to rally around whoever it is.”
With 39 seniors on his roster, Flynn, who is in his fifth year of leading his alma mater is pleased with the start – wins over La Porte, Clear Creek, West Brook and Clear Brook – but District 22-6A play begins Thursday night and with a potentially new starting quarterback taking the snaps.
“We’re happy now where we’re sitting but we also know that district is here now,” Flynn said. “Everybody starts 0-0. We’ll reset the mind frame here and see what happens in district.”