When Jarrett Stidham went down with an inured hand it was Anthony Chavarria, a senior back-up all season, who answered the call.
He stepped into the huddle cold and threw a touchdown pass on his first play. And he threw five more touchdowns that first night in Big Spring, racking up 385 yards through the air, and pacing the offense to 57 points.
"Coach called me onto the field and asked me if I was ready,” Chavarria said the night of the Big Spring game. “I said, ‘Yes sir. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.’ I finally got to go out there and show what I can do.”
Chavarria threw for six touchdowns and guided the Yellow Jackets to within a score late in the game.
Chavarria’s parents, Dad Lupe and stepmom Dianna, can be seen at all the Stephenvile football games sporting their son’s No. 9 on Yellow Jackets jerseys.
“We’re very proud of him,” Lupe said. “We had a lot of people come up to us and tell us how proud they were of him for the way he played.”
“He did awesome," said Dianna. “We’re just so proud of him.
And two games ago, in a playoff outing against Decatur, he guided the Yellow Jackets to a 66-point night.
So he’s done quite a bit more than be a place holder for Stidham’s return. Chavarria has had a big part in the team’s success the past few weeks.
“Anthony had a huge part,” said Stephenville coach Joseph Gillespie. “He was thrown into an almost impossible situation. Whoever comes in and tries to fill the shoes of Jarrett Stidham has very, very tough shoes to fill.
“We were hoping for those shoes to be filled next season. But Anthony got thrown into the fire and, man, he picked up right where Jarrett left off. He did a wonderful job against Big Spring, did a great job against Abilene Wylie and, obviously, did a superior job against Decatur.”
According to Gillespie, one of the most memorable aspects of Chavarria’s time as the Jackets’ signal caller was that he enjoyed great offensive success with little preparation.
“To come in and do it in the fashion he did, with the limited number of reps he had, both game reps and practice reps,” he said. “That says a lot about, No. 1, Anthony’s character and his passion for this game and for this team. And what an instrumental part of this team Anthony is. What a huge role he has played.”
In his three-game stretch as starter, Chavarria threw for 1,073 yards, completed 60 percent of his throws, led an offense that scored 130 points, and quarterbacked a team to a playoff win.
There are many starting quarterbacks in Stephenvile’s Class 4A who have liked an entire season as good as Chavarria’s three games.
After an interception on the team’s first drive against Estacado, Chavarria was replaced by Stidham. And according to his coach, he took the decision with grace and maintained his team-first attitude and was as thrilled as anyone when the game was over and the Jackets had won.
“He’s extremely unselfish,” Gillespie said, “the epitome of what a team player is. It makes a coach proud of the character and integrity of our team, especially in a young man like that.”