DIVISION I-A FOOTBALL: Deaville wins over Crusaders

Jacob Deaville was tired of watching from the bench and wanted to get on the field. He was even willing to play a different position.

So the senior quarterback for the Faith Lutheran football team walked into the office of Crusaders first-year coach Vernon Fox and let him know.

“We had a heart to heart about the whole situation,” Deaville said, “and with that talk I came out with the confidence that I had a chance at the (starting quarterback) job. And I kind of showed that in practice that week.”

Deaville won the Crusaders’ starting job before the fourth game of the season and has flourished ever since, guiding Faith Lutheran to its first appearance in the Division I-A state final.

The Crusaders (11-2) take on Churchill County (10-1) at 4:05 p.m. Saturday at Damonte Ranch High in Reno.

“I always felt like my spot was on the field,” Deaville said. “Senior year, I thought it would be different at the start. But I just had to make it different, perform in practice and win the spot.”

Deaville was the Crusaders’ backup quarterback as a junior and started this season behind incumbent Greg Benson, who threw for 1,372 yards and 18 touchdowns as a sophomore in Faith Lutheran’s pass-happy spread offense.

Fox, a former NFL defensive back, installed a pro-style system when he was hired in February, and Deaville saw limited action as the Crusaders’ offense struggled at times during a 1-2 start.

“In the beginning, we tried to kind of play this game where we went back and forth to see which guy could give us a spark at times,” Fox said. “I got to a point where I wanted to make a decision and I let the guys know that. I said whoever stood up and ran with it would be the guy, and that’s what Jake did.”

Deaville went 5-for-8 for 115 yards and a touchdown along with 62 yards rushing in his first start against Chaparral, a 27-12 win. But the turning point came two weeks later in the Sunset League opener against preseason favorite Mojave.

Deaville threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown to put Faith Lutheran in a 25-17 hole midway through the fourth quarter. He bounced back with two long TD passes to Vinny DeGeorge in the final 6:14, lifting the Crusaders to a 32-25 road win.

“My teammates have said that’s my moment of leadership,” Deaville said. “That’s when my confidence really came about. That’s when the light bulb went off and I felt the team was actually mine.”

Deaville has thrown for 1,692 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. He’s also third on the team with 419 yards rushing, adding another dimension to the Crusaders’ offense.

The Crusaders have won 11 in a row overall, 10 straight with Deaville at the helm, and Saturday will face one of the state’s top quarterbacks in Churchill County’s Morgan Dirickson, who is being recruited by several Football Championship Subdivision schools.

Fox believes if Faith Lutheran avoids mistakes — Moapa Valley committed eight turnovers in a 34-24 loss to the Greenwave last week — Deaville will present several problems for Churchill County’s defense.

“He offers something that you certainly got to prepare for,” Fox said. “And I think for us, that was instrumental. It really was comforting to know that we’ve got a guy that can do what we’re asking him to do, and this is what we need as an offense to get rolling.”

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