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Thomas Jefferson's Steve Scott?
By Paul Paterra

One of the main question marks that surrounded the Thomas Jefferson High School Football Team entering this season was at the quarterback position. After all, Brian Dawson, who had led the Jaguars deep into the WPIAL playoffs for two straight years, had graduated. As a freshman, he is now the starting signal caller at Washington & Jefferson University.

Steve Scott has answered that question - with an exclamation point. All he has done is completed 40 of 63 passes for 646 yards. Scott had more passing yardage than anyone in the entire WPIAL, after the first two weeks of the season. "He's just taken charge of the position," said TJ football coach Bill Cherpak. "He's not real vocal, but he's really become a leader for us on the field." This especially surfaced Friday night, in what may have been Scott's crowning moment in the young season. Sure, Scott put up sparkling numbers, completing 13 of 19 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns in the 16-14 win over West Mifflin.

Most importantly perhaps, he led his team on the drive that set up Mike Virgin's 34-yard game-winning field goal. The four-minute, 60-yard scoring march sealed a win that Scott said his team desperately needed against a Class AAA Keystone Conference rival. "It was huge," Scott admitted. "Coming off the loss against Peters Twp. (last week), we knew we had to win. We knew it was going to be a tough game, but it was a must-win situation. It was fun. I was getting a lot of help from my teammates, with some nice catches and good protection." Scott, 6-0, 175 - actually had to win the job as starting signal caller in the pre-season. Win it he did, to go along with his starting free safety duties.

In the early part of the season, Scott has been needed to carry a good portion of the offensive load for the Jaguars. Injuries have shelved starting running backs Tom Jura (back) and Tom Blaze (knee). Blaze did return Friday after limited time the second week of the season. Jura has yet to play, but may return this week.

"We've been passing a lot, more than we thought," Scott explained. "We've been doing alright with it. I just hope we keep on winning. Scott has liked the part he has played in the Jaguars' wins. Scott said that before this year he enjoyed playing on the defensive side of the football a little more than offense. That has changed since he has had the chance to be the so-called "main man" of the offense. "I used to like defense. Offense has been more fun this year, with us airing it out," Scott admitted. "But it's pretty fun to play defense. I like to make some tackles."

Scott, who runs a 4.7 in the 40, hopes that his career on the gridiron continues at the collegiate level. However, Cherpak said Scott's future may be on defense. "Colleges are looking for that strong rifle arm, and that's not him," Cherpak says. "But he's got the mind for it." Whatever Scott's skills are, Cherpak has confidence in his quarterback's ability to get the job done. "His arm is strong enough to get the ball where it needs to be," Cherpak said. "That's all that matters. I don't expect him to throw the ball 70 yards downfield. He doesn't have to."

Scott has had one of the best seats in the house over the last two years, while Dawson took the Jaguars to the WPIAL Class AAA quarter-finals in 1997 and the WPIAL semi-finals last season. He said he was able to learn a lot from watching Dawson. "He was extremely calm in all situations," Scott said of Dawson. "What you have to do is keep your composure." That lesson proved valuable in the game-winning drive Friday night. "Everyone was getting all excited," Scott said. "I had to keep them under control." "He's picked up a lot of things Brian did," Cherpak added. "He doesn't make mental mistakes. That's from watching Brian, studying the game and watching the game." He's passing well and providing good leadership.

It appears that, yes indeed, Scott has answered any questions that may have surrounded the Thomas Jefferson quarterback position.