High School Football

Blue-collar QB: Althoff’s Augustine comes back from two ACL surgeries and finds success

Althoff quarterback Jordan Augustine has helped lead the 11-0 Crusaders to the 4A quarterfinals
Althoff quarterback Jordan Augustine has helped lead the 11-0 Crusaders to the 4A quarterfinals

When Althoff senior quarterback Jordan Augustine takes a snap, he looks out and sees a lot more than the opposing defense and his receivers trying to get open.

He sees his hard-fought journey to get back to playing quarterback after enduring not one, but two ACL surgeries resulting from a basketball injury his freshman year. He sees the hours spent in rehab and in training, doing everything possible to get back on the field.

He sees all the moving parts of a dynamic Althoff offense that has helped him produce a school-record and St. Louis area-leading 2,988 passing yards and 36 touchdown passes. It’s a dizzying array of progressions and reads and quickly finding the open man.

Nothing came easy for Augustine and he never wanted it any other way.

Now he’s the player teammates call “QB1,” the man with the ball in his hands ever snap.

“He’s got the joystick with these guys and he’s just sitting back there and controlling it,” said althoff coach Ken Turner, whose 11-0 squad meets five-time defending state cham Rochester (10-1) in a 3 p.m. Class 4A quarterfinal game Saturday at Lindenwood Stadium in Belleville. “He’s htiting all the right buttons so far.”

Althoff-Rochester 4A quarterfinal game should be a wild one

Althoff-Rochester tickets on sale now

Augustine (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) said getting past the physical and mental demands of two knee surgeries and feeling more comfortable in the offense have made all the difference.

“Between getting back from my knee and learning the offense, I probably hit full stride last year late in the season, maybe Week 6 or 7,” Augustine said. “Before that no matter what I did, I felt like anything I did physically my leg was in the back of my mind. Now it’s like a total relief to be able to do stuff and not even think about it.”

He’s got the joystick with these guys and he’s just sitting back there and controlling it.

Althoff coach Ken Turner

Do stuff?

Stuff like throwing for 418 yards in the first half of a 68-48 win over Mater Dei? Augustine finished the night 25-of-30 for 537 yards and five TDs. Stuff like completing 22-of-26 passes for six TDs last Saturday in the second-round win at Quincy Notre Dame.

In two years as Althoff’s starter, Augustine has thrown for 4,687 yards and 50 TDs with 16 interceptions while running for 11 more TDs.

“People don’t think he’s fast, but he’s probably one of the top five fastest players on our team,” Althoff senior receiver Keenen Young said when asked things people might know about his good friend. “It would also be his unselfishness, following his keys and doing all the right things.

“He always knows exactly what he’s doing and exactly where we’ll be, even before we’re done running our routes. He’s very accurate, just makes it a lot easier for us.”

After his second ACL rehab, Augustine began training with Belleville West graduate Steve Bunn in north St. Louis County. Augustine would travel an hour each way to workouts with Bunn, a strength and conditioning coach and aquatic therapist who owns Midwest Fitness and Speed.

Bunn trains athletes of all kinds, including U.S. Paralympic sprinter and medalist Carrie Morgan.

When Augustine began training with Bunn, Bunn had him try to do less than a quarter-squat exercise standing on a six-inch box.

Jordan is probably one of the top three rehabs we’ve ever done as far as the end result of what we got and how traumatic the injury was.

Steve Bunn, owner of Midwest Speed and Fitness

“When he stood up on the affected side, that knee would not support him,” Bunn said. “It looked like when a newborn colt was born. Now Jordan can do a single-legged squat on a 30-inch box with the knee bent at 90 degrees and hold that for probably 60 seconds or longer.”

Bunn still trains Augustine, but in the early days worked with him twice a week for 7 1/2 months. The workouts sometimes lasted 2 1/2 hours and to Bunn’s amazement, Augustine only wanted more.

“He worked really, really hard,” Bunn said. “He’s kind of rare in the sense that he has a lot of natural talent, but a lot of times I don’t see the kids with that kind of talent and the work ethic all in the same package.”

Augustine’s work ethic got him back to the point where Augustine ran a 4.57-second 40-yard dash despite running on a knee that has been through two ACL surgeries.

“The Jordan that you’re seeing now is a product of his hard work and a very structured rehabilitation program that he never deviated from,” Bunn said. “Jordan is probably one of the top three rehabs we’ve ever done as far as the end result of what we got and how traumatic the injury was.”

LIGHTING A FIRE

After Augustine struggled a bit last season in a 28-26 win over Mount Vernon, Turner opened up the quarterback competition. He wanted more than Augustine was giving and used the coach’s best motivation tool - playing time - hoping to find it.

4,687. 50. Augustine’s passing yards and TD passes

“Usually I wouldn’t do that, but I wanted something to light a fire under him and get him back,” Turner said. “He went out the next week and I revved up the offense, made it faster. We played Centralia and he had a great game, they were undefeated and it was their homecoming.

“He didn’t argue about it, didn’t complain about it, just went out and worked. He hasn’t looked back since then.”

Augustine said he doesn’t have any scholarship offers, but has heard from schools like Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Murray State, Southeast Missouri, Northern Iowa, Northwest Missouri State, McKendree and Lindenwood-Belleville.

Augustine’s father, Jim Augustine, grew up in Cahokia as part of a large, athletic family. When many of the family members moved to Waterloo, Jim and Julie Augustine did, too.

Many of Jordan Augustine’s cousins played sports at Waterloo High, but despite living in Waterloo he opted for Althoff.

“My dad has seven brothers and one sister and almost every niece or nephew went to Waterloo,” Augustine said. “It was kind of tough, but there were just as many people supporting me saying (going to Althoff) would be the best decision of my life.

“I think it has been.”

BY THE NUMBERS

Augustine followed another record-setting quarterback at Althoff, Eric Mertens. Mertens was a four-year starter who left as the Crusaders’ all-time leader in career passing with 7,043 yards and 72 TDs.

Augustine broke Mertens’ single-season record last week, but said he also owes him a lot.

“I definitely never thought I’d break his record,” Augustine said. “He was always smart, made good decisions, had a big arm and was a winner. It was good for me to come up behind him and he taught me all his ways.”

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

Playoff tickets

What: Althoff vs. Rochester in Class 4A state football quarterfinal game.

When: Will be on sale from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Althoff High School main office in Belleville.

How much: Tickets are $6 each.

Where: Althoff (11-0) plays host to five-time defending state champ Rocheter (10-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Lindenwood Stadium in Belleville.

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