Extra Points: Brian Spano 11/8
By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
There’s a quote from William Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that I will paraphrase: “Though he be but little, he is fierce!
That is Shawnee Mission West senior tailback Brett Sterbach.
Sterbach stands 5 feet, 7 inches and weighs just 150 pounds. If it wasn’t for his uniform and pads, he might be mistaken for the team manager.
But he has never let his diminutive size stand in the way of what he has been able to accomplish on the football field.
In 2012, Sterbach led the Sunflower League in rushing with nearly 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns.
This is the same Sunflower League with traditional powers like Lawrence, Olathe South, Olathe North and Shawnee Mission East.
Sterbach’s performance has helped lead the Vikings to a 9-1 record and a spot in the quarterfinals of the Kansas Class 6A playoffs against Lawrence.
“I’ve been blessed and am so humbled by my stats this year,” Sterbach said of his season. “I’m proud of the team and how good we’ve come together and how we’ve played the game of football that we all love.”
What’s so amazing when you watch Sterbach run is how Sterbach runs.
He is a wily, slippery-type back that slithers through defensive lines as he uses his arms to shed would-be tacklers. Oh yeah, and he’s fast too.
“My size doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I’ll take on anyone. I’ll try going head-to-head with a lineman. I go out there every play trying to do my best, and I have trust in my teammates to do their best as well and hopefully make plays throughout the game.”
And he has.
Last Friday night in a first-round playoff game against Blue Valley Northwest, Sterbach broke off a 63-yard run on the Vikings third play of the game. He was stopped just a yard short of the goal line. He finished the game with 217 yards and two touchdowns.
To spotlight another game, he had 229 yards and three scores in a 28-17 win over Shawnee Mission South in week five of the season.
Even the big guys up front who block to open holes for him enjoy working for Sterbach.
“As offensive lineman, we love blocking for a guy like him because we know every play he’s going to go his hardest no matter what,” said junior guard Austin Chambers. “He hits the hole hard. I love blocking for him.”
And like any successful running back, Sterbach’s affection for the line is mutual. He owes all of that success to them.
“I think it’s my mentality and just the fact that I think our line is the best out there,” he said. “I’ll take that to the books. I think the line sets it up for me really. They get a lot less credit than they deserve, but they do a (heck) of a job in there.”
Sterbach’s determination and competiveness aren’t lost on his head coach Tim Callaghan, and that can be seen in the trust he places in his talented tailback by feeding him the ball each week.
“He’s a tiny kid who has a huge heart,” Callaghan said. “He’s got a huge heart and just wants to compete and wants to get it done.”
As a senior, this postseason will be Sterbach’s last opportunity to try to get it done.
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