QB Chavez stayed at St. Bernard when others left

St. Bernard QB Steven Chavez (in red) stayed with program even after 2012 varsity season was cancelled.

PLAYA DEL REY, Calif. -- It's Tuesday of Mary Star week on the campus of St. Bernard.

The Vikings are preparing for another league foe and trying to get back on the winning track after having their two-game win streak snapped by Verbum Dei, 48-12, the previous Friday.

The scout team offense is trying to get the first team defense prepared and junior quarterback Steven Chavez isn't impressed.

"We have to take this seriously," Chavez implores the rest of the scout team inside the huddle.

He takes it seriously and expects his teammates to do the same

Chavez is no ordinary scout team quarterback, as evidenced by the tightly thrown spirals he was releasing 30-yards downfield at the conclusion of practice. One after another, each one as tight as the last.

At 6-foot-3, 185-pounds, and able to make just about every throw a quarterback needs to make at this level, he certainly resembles other local 2015 quarterbacks being courted by colleges across the nation. There's no question, he certainly looks the part.

"He is the part," his head coach John Bibb says.

Nevermind running the scout team offense, Chavez is the quarterback for the Vikings and one of the most pivotal pieces of a roster that includes just 29 others.

Bibb calls him the backbone of the team. Another description, just as fitting for the St. Bernard junior, would be the composer of the team.

After former head coach Larry Muno stepped down just weeks before the start of the 2012 season, a host of football players began to scatter out of the school as well.

The St. Bernard varsity football team, less than a year from accomplishing an undefeated regular season and a Del Rey League championship, was down to just eight players.

Chavez and a teammate walked around the campus with a signup sheet in hopes of forming a team. They got 20 others to join them but any hopes of having a varsity team had vanished. With a roster that included plenty of first time football players and underclassmen, from a safety standpoint, playing at the varsity level would have been dangerous.

"I did really push (for the varsity season to be cancelled) because I did feel the boys didn't have a really, true, true, true offseason," Bibb said. "I just didn't want to put them in a situation, of course, playing a contact sport to be hurt or just to be in a mental breakdown or something negative."

Bibb, a former St. Bernard assistant, who was asked to return to run the program just two weeks before the start of the 2012 season, found himself as the head coach of a JV team with no varsity squad.

Behind Chavez, then a sophomore, the JV team went from just eight players late in the summer to 7-0 on the field and a league championship behind the rallying cry "From 8 to Great!"

Chavez like the others that remained at the school was devastated there would be no varsity football in 2012. He would have been on the varsity squad as a sophomore and even had a chance to be the team's starter at quarterback.

All of that was taken away and like some of those that stayed at the school and others that departed, he contemplated transferring. When it came down to it, Chavez wouldn't allow himself to leave.

St. Bernard is in his blood, literally.

"My aunts are alumni at this school," Chavez said. "It's right up the street from my house and it does mean a lot to me. When I come here every day, it's not school to me. It's a family, basically."

In 2013, Chavez has over 1,300 yards passing, 14 TD and seven interceptions in his first season as the varsity starter. The Vikings have won four of their first seven games and are knocking on the door of the playoffs.

Chavez's decision to stay and initiative to start a signup sheet has St. Bernard in the position they're in, and looking toward the future.

He's the quarterback. The leader. The backbone. The composer.

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