Taft’s Dexter Stigall has a smooth explosiveness with his arm and his legs. The junior threw for two touchdowns and ran for one in the Eagles’ 34-14 win against Perspectives on Thursday at Lane.
No one would ever guess he wasn’t sure about playing quarterback.
“He was a little resistant at first to being the quarterback,” Taft coach John Tsarouchas said. “He can do everything, he can play anywhere on the field. It’s best for us that he plays quarterback.”
Stigall connected with sophomore Justin Griedziejko for a 64-yard touchdown pass and Kobe Collins on a 15-yard touchdown pass. Then he really impressed with a darting, smart 12-yard touchdown to seal the win in the fourth quarter.
“I saw a defender come at me so I had to give him a little move and then I just dived in for the touchdown,” Stigall said.
Stigall was 7-for-16 for 123 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He had 10 carries for 51 yards for the Eagles (4-3, 2-1).
“He has his ups and downs but he is a dynamic player,” Tsarouchas said. “The sky is the limit for him. People need to start paying attention. He can play for somebody one day.”
Collins had four catches for 45 yards. He’s part of the team’s senior core that has been in the program since Tsarouchas took over.
“Piotr Krupa, Collins, Mikey Shine, Sean Watson and Jaime Gallegos deserve the credit,” Tsarouchas said. “They are the guys that bought in three years ago and have invested the most.”
Watson had a few tackles for losses and blocked a punt. Junior Gamaliel Garcia had 12 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown for Taft and Roberto Salgado added a five-yard touchdown run.
Senior Amanjah Jackson had 14 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown for Perspectives (4-3, 0-3). Latavion Bell had a streaking, 15-yard run in the fouth quarter but the Warriors only completed three passes in the game.
The win secures a city playoff spot for Taft and keeps its state playoff dreams alive. The Eagles have played a rugged schedule so far, all three losses are to good teams: St. Patrick, Evanston and Curie.
“I have the best coaching staff in the Public League, hands down,” Tsarouchas said. “And that is one of the biggest challenges in the Public League. They have accelerated the development of our young guys and we think the future is bright.
“Our program has been close to getting over what has been our hump for awhile. We are getting there. This program has won seven or eight games many times, but never as a member of the Illini Red Bird.”
The Eagles face their biggest test of the season next week against No. 6 Simeon.
“This was very big win for all of us,” Stigall said. “We clinched a [city] playoff spot and we are ready for Simeon.”