Goss: Jake Czerniakowski steps up as full-time quarterback for Minooka
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org September 21, 2013 5:46PM
Minooka's quarterback Jacob Czerniakowski (16) pulls down a high snap against Plainfield Central during the second quarter in Plainfield, Friday, September 20, 2013. | Raymundo Luna/For Sun-Times Media
Minooka entered this season with senior quarterbacks Shane Briscoe and Jake Czerniakowski pretty much alternating series.
After a victory over Morris and a loss to Providence, Briscoe decided shortly before last week’s game at Oswego that he did not want to continue playing. When he quit, that provided Czerniakowski a full-time gig.
Things did not go well last week as the Indians fell 41-13. However, it was a different story altogether in Friday night’s 48-7 triumph at Plainfield Central.
Czerniakowski directed an offense that rushed for 301 yards, and he completed his last eight passes to finish 8-of-10 for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
“When Shane and I were splitting time, I prepared like I was going to take every snap, so from that standpoint it’s not different,” Czerniakowski said.
“But I do feel more responsibility, like the team has to rely on me now. I have to try to do my best every snap.”
Czerniakowski said he and Briscoe are good friends. “I was actually surprised when Shane left,” he said.
“It was a shock for all of us,” senior right guard Paul Stawarz said.
“Our program is down a quarterback,” Minooka coach Paul Forsythe said.
“Jake has an opportunity and he played well (against Central). We told him he had to take care of the football, and he did.”
The Indians produced offensively largely because the line — Alec Shannon, Gabe Parker, James Lang, Stawarz and Brock Whalen from left tackle to right tackle — was on top of its game. Nate Gunn rode the escort service to the tune of 158 rushing yards, Victor Turpin chipped in 116 and the duo combined for five touchdowns.
“Football is about third downs,” Forsythe said. “But it’s also about positive yards on first down. I just told the linemen that if they play well, the overall team plays well. That’s the way it seems to work.”
Stawarz said Czerniakowski will be a good leader for the offense the rest of the way. Wide receiver Anthony Corrado, who caught two passes for 50 yards, is the backup. At least he took the snaps the last couple of series against Central.
“He (Czerniakowski) has stepped up a lot,” Stawarz said. “He gets us focused on what we need to do.
“As far as his game goes, he definitely has improved his throwing.”
Czerniakowski, who also has played a significant amount of wide receiver during his Minooka career, was billed as the more athletic of the dual quarterbacks, while Briscoe was the better passer.
However, it was evident Friday that Czerniakowski is passing more accurately. Three of his eight straight completions were medium to long range over the middle, and to three receivers: Corrado, Anthony Mack and Zachry Zamora.
“I feel I’m getting better as a passer,” Czerniakowski said. “Getting more reps in practice helps that. When we can throw, that makes it easier to move the ball.”
The Indians’ final five regular-season games, all in the balanced Southwest Prairie, should prove interesting.
“We’re a good team,” Czerniakowski said. “I think we can play with anybody we have left, but we have to play our best.”
The full-time quarterback aims to do his best to see that it happens.