It was nearly a year ago to the day that Travis Jasper first found himself under center as quarterback of the Mater Dei Knights.
A junior then, he completed two passes for negative yards in a 33-0 wipeout at the hands of Holy War rival Althoff Catholic. It was the second Friday night in a row the Knights had been held scoreless, a first in six years. Behind their reluctant young signal caller, they limped to a surprising 2-7 season record and missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 season.
Friday in Breese — 364 days later — brought the same two teams together with the same grudge-match trophy up for grabs. Jasper was under center again, but he was a much different quarterback.
And a different outcome followed. Mater Dei defeated Althoff, 47-0.
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“I knew the history, so I was a little nervous coming into it, I’m not going to lie,” Jasper said. “It feels good to beat them, but we’ve still got a pretty tough schedule ahead of us. Have to keep executing as a team like we did tonight.
“It doesn’t stop now.”
Once he 5-foot-11, 186-pound former wide receiver got going, he didn’t stop either. He and the Knights kept heat on the Althoff secondary throughout a flawlessly played second quarter.
Jasper completed nine of his 11 pass attempts for 156 yards and five touchdowns to three different receivers. He also rushed 11 times for 116 yards and another score, a 46-yard run down the home-team sideline.
Mater Dei put all its points on the board in the first two quarters, triggering the running-clock in the second half to expedite the win before the forecast rain began to fall. Three of Jasper’s touchdown passes came on successive attempts.
“Travis is crafty smart, laughing, smiling, loose and nerves don’t get to him” Mater Dei coach Jim Stiebel said of his quarterback. “He threw three straight touchdowns there at the end, and I had been telling him if he’s back to pass and doesn’t like what he sees to just tuck it and run it. He did that tonight, too.”
It was the Knights’ first win over Althoff since 2011 and their first time to capture the Holy War trophy in five years. Stiebel and Althoff defensive coordinator Austin Frazier, best friends off the field, started the tradition “to throw some extra stakes on top of it.”
The Knights improved to 3-0 and are relieved, to some extent, to have made it passed that big game circled on their schedule.
“The kids know what this means to me and that I wanted it bad and that I thought we had the team to do it. We haven’t had success in the last couple of years against a team that’s usually loaded,” Stiebel said. “They are a good team, but we were just outstanding tonight.”
Through three weeks, Jasper has completed 63.4 percent of his pass attempts (26 for 41) for 358 yards and six touchdowns without an interception. Friday’s Holy War was his breakout as a ball carrier.
He credits his rapid development to a summer working with Colin Schuetz, a former three-year starter who steered the Knights to a class 4A state semifinal in 2015 and quarterfinal in 2016.
“He taught me pretty much everything I know about quarterbacking,” Jasper said of Schuetz, who is now the starting quarterback at NCAA Division-III Wisconsin-Platteville. “He’s taught me how to read the defenses and what to look for when they’re rotating, how to work my drop steps ... Colin has been a great help.”
Mitchell Haake was on the receiving end of three of Jasper’s touchdown throws. The pair connected for scores of 11, 22 and 21 yards. Haake — the brother of Kansas City Royals minor league pitcher Zach Haake — finished with four catches for 88 yards.
“Mitchell Haake is a sophomore, tall and super athletic,” Stiebel said. “His brother is a professional baseball player, his dad was a tremendous athlete and nobody knows about him. But we’ve got him and teams should worry about him now.”
Logan Ratermann caught a 35-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter and Garrett Foppe caught the final score, a 30-yard strike from Jasper.
Mater Dei next faces unbeaten Freeburg, a 28-0 winner over Central in week 3. Althoff, 0-3 for the first time since 2001, begins South Seven Conference play next Friday at Mount Vernon. The Crusaders have lost their three games by an average margin of 42.7 points.