Listed as a wide receiver and defensive back on the Mater Dei ‘17 football roster, Travis Jasper didn’t envisioned himself playing quarterback against one of the Knights most fierce rivals three weeks into his junior season.
But against the Althoff Crusaders, the 5-11, 183-pound Jasper, made his high school varsity debut under center. He compled 2-of-6 passes for a minus 1 yard.
“We had a lot of injuries and we had a lot of players playing positions that they weren’t exactly familiar with. I had been playing a little bit at wide receiver and running back before I got moved to quarterback,’’ Jasper said. “Mentally, the move wasn’t that difficult. I had been working with those guys since my sophomore year and I knew the offense.
“The toughest part for me was physically. I wasn’t use to getting hit like that. And then at the beginning, my footwork wasn’t very good. But each week, I felt myself improving a little more.’’
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A year later brought different results, for both Jasper and the Knights. After a summer of daily workouts with former Knights quarterback Colin Schuetz and getting a better grasp on Mater Dei coach Jim Stiebel’s offense, Jasper became one of the top small school football players in the metro-east.
A true double threat in the backfield, Jasper created havoc for opposing defenses with both is arm and legs.
In his full season as the Knights offensive leader, Jasper completed 98-of-176 attempts for 1,665 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also ran for 669 yards and seven touchdowns. More importantly, the News-Democrat Class 1A-4A Offensive Player of the Year played the key role in the Knights getting back to their winning ways.
After suffering through a 2-7 season a year ago, Mater Dei was 7-3 this past fall, earning a long-awaited win over Althoff, a coveted Milk Bowl over cross-town rival Central High School, and a Class 4A Playoff berth.
“It was a good year. One of my goals this year was to help bring Mater Dei back to a winning program after we struggled a year ago. To be able to accomplish some of the things we did. I felt good about that,’’ Jasper said. “We got off to a good start, winning our first six games before the injuries started to take a toll on us. We lost one of our best linemen, Bennett Krebs and that really hurt. But we were able to win in week nine to finish the regular season on a winning note.”
After taking over at quarterback in the first half of the 2017 season, Jasper trained with Schuetz, a former teammate and Knights starting quarterback for much of the past summer. Schuetz currently plays college football at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
“AJ Albers worked out with us and we would work on different routes and getting the timing down on pass patterns,” Jasper said. “We also worked on getting my footwork better and Colin worked with me on reading different (defensive) coverages and what to look for against different teams.’’
That hard work paid off early his senior season. With Jasper, who also played safety on the Knights’ defense, leading the way, the Knights offense was one of the best in the St. Louis area during the first six weeks of the season.
After opening with a 26-19 win over Effingham, the Knights offense put up 153 points in lopsided wins over Marquette, Althoff and Freeburg the next three weeks.
Jasper’s emergence came as no surprise to Knights coach Jim Stiebel.
“Jazz (Travis) just knew the offense better then anyone. He played wide receiver a few years, so he knew the routes real well. He was just a student of the game,’’ Stiebel said. “As a sophomore he would run routes for Colln Schuetz. I know he had a lot to do with Travis’ success as well.’’
His high school football career now complete, Jasper is currently a member of the Knights basketball team. He hopes to play college football and is considering Missouri Baptist and Illinois College, among others.