Sports

QB Malcolm has Knights air attack on target

St. Thomas More quarterback Chase Malcolm takes instruction from offensive coordination Joe Adams during practice on Tuesday. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
St. Thomas More quarterback Chase Malcolm takes instruction from offensive coordination Joe Adams during practice on Tuesday.
— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

For years, make that decades, the St. Thomas More Knights football program churned out star running backs such as CFL stars Jon Cornish and Calvin McCarty to name a couple. The Knight's route to the promised land of a provincial championship was taken along the ground, although they didn't always reach their destination.

The last few years, the Knights have added an aerial attack to augment the ground game. Quarterback Mikey Carney was at the helm and he was good enough to get himself a spot on the University of Guelph Gryphons.

This season, the Knights air force is being piloted by Grade 11 Chase Malcolm, who has them sporting a 4-2 overall record and in the top two in the provincial AAA rankings. He has averaged 200 yards passing a game, completed 77 per cent of his passes and thrown for 11 touchdowns in six games. Those are exceptional numbers for a high school QB.

Football has been in Malcolm's blood since he was six years old when he started playing minor football. At first, he says, he was a running back but two years later he switched to quarterback when the previous one went to another team and they had no one else. Malcolm was only too happy to be the centre of attention at quarterback.

"Every eight-year-old boy wants to score a touchdown. But once I got older I realized it was a team game," says Malcolm during a break from a practice on the STM field.

At first he was a little scared because he was younger than most of his teammates.

"The first year I didn't now what to expect and what the role is. Every year I'm starting to improve in my leadership skills. I learned what I need to work on," says Malcolm. "I like to lead others and that's one of the roles of being a quarterback.

"I like making decisions. I have to make because coming into every game it's not going to be easy, and that's one of my favourite things about it, you've just got to find the obstacles and overcome them."

When Malcolm was heading into Grade 8 he wanted to go to a school with a football program. He chose STM because he'd seen the coaches adapt to Carney's skills.

"Mikey was probably one of the first athletic quarterbacks to come to St. Thomas More and once he came in they pretty well changed their offence to suit him. And once they decided to change that for him I decided to go here," says Malcolm.

When he moved up to junior varsity in Grade 9, they already had a quarterback, Giovanni Trasolini, who had led STM to the Grade 8 final the year before Malcolm arrived. Trasolini, though, didn't want to be a QB. He wanted to be the guy catching the passes, not throwing them.

At six-foot-four, Trasolini has turned into an enticing target for Malcolm. Receiver Malcolm Lee, who is six-foot-two, is also a favourite along with running back Jalen Jana and tight end Kevin Marshall, all of whom are in Grade 11 and won the provincial AAA championship last year. They also play a lot of flag football together, notes Knights head coach Bernie Kully.

"It's a case of recognizing we have certain guys that can do certain things, and utilizing them to your advantage," says Kully, who credits offensive coordinator Joe Adams for making a lot of the changes to emphasize passing.

Last Friday's game in the rain when the Knights defeated the Terry Fox Ravens 36-6 at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex West really showed off the air attack. Malcolm threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns, exceptional numbers for a high school quarterback.

"It was impressive," says Kully.

Two of those TD tosses and 152 of the yards went to Trasolini. On one score, the Knights were backed up close to their own end zone when Malcolm reared back and threw it about 40 yards into Trasolini's arms who romped the rest of the way.

"It was pretty awesome, but it wasn't just me," says Malcolm of his performance.

He's even learning at home by watching a lot of pro football. His favourite QB is Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, who like Malcolm, is five-foot-11. Malcolm is blown away by Brees' skill, knowledge and ability to succeed at an elite level despite having to throw around and over six-foot-eight behemoths. "I don't know how he does it."

Malcolm also has a passion for lacrosse and holds out some hope he might be able to play both sports at the college level.

"A dual scholarship would be unreal, but it's pretty hard to get one of those," say Malcolm. "But football will always be my favourite sport because it's been that way ever since I was six years old."

This year there are four or five teams all in a good position to win the provincial championship. STM is just starting to round into form after starting the season with injuries to key people. Running back and linebacker Elliott Nelson, the 2011 B.C. Grade 11 player of the year, missed four games with a knee injury while Lee had a hip problem and Jalen broke a bone in his leg in the summer.

"We've found more adversity already in the first month than what last year's team did until November," says Kully of the 2011 squad that went into the playoffs ranked No. 1 in the province before losing in the semifinals to Victoria's Mount Douglas. "We didn't know how to handle it."

The Knights take on Coquitlam's Centennial Centaurs on Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Burnaby Lake before finishing the regular season against Lord Tweedsmuir in Surrey on Oct. 26, and West Vancouver on Nov. 2.

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