INDIANAPOLIS — Steven Stephany couldn’t picture himself as a star.
Lafayette coach Jeff, Pat Shanley, however, could think of no better representative to make the case for the Broncho’s safety.
Turns out it wasn’t hard to convince those responsible for putting together a roster for Friday’s Indiana Football Coaches Association North-South All-Star Classic that Stephany should be included in the event. annual.
“Sometimes you have to hit the table pretty hard for guys,” Shanley said. “We didn’t have to hit the table very hard for Steven. He put together one of the most spectacular seasons I have ever participated in in all three phases.
As Lafayette Jeff’s season progressed, Stephany became a player who didn’t leave the field.
The Bronchos played him on special teams, on offense and defense.
And even after earning IFCA Class 6A senior honors, Stephany still thinks there’s more to prove before his high school football career officially ends Friday at Ben Davis.
“I always had disadvantages in certain areas like height,” said Stephany, a 5-foot-10 free safety. “But I always wanted to live up to a higher standard. I wanted to make sure that no matter what, even if people say I’ve proven myself, I’ll still look like I haven’t proven enough. I am always striving for a higher purpose and trying to prove myself for better content.
This attitude is exactly why Stephany has thrived.
While playing junior football at Tecumseh, Stephany stood out and Shanley knew he would make an impact at the high school level.
Then you add an endless desire to improve and you get a star player.
“He’s always had a chip on his shoulder. Some of that is probably fabricated in his mind, but that’s what makes him special and what drives him every day in the weight room and on the court,” Shanley said. “It sends a strong message to all underclassmen and everyone who goes through our program: No matter how talented you are, if you work really hard and are really motivated, you can accomplish special things.”
Five blocked kicks, 114 tackles, four pass breakups, a 35-yard punt average, 38.4 yards per kickoff return and 27.4 yards per reception. It’s just last season.
The statistics prove it enough.
Stephany can play ball.
“He led 6A in punting average for a while. He was leading 6A in kickoff returns. He probably led 6A in blocked clearances,” Shanley said. “Some guys are like pulling their teeth into special teams, but Steven was always the first to want to make an impact in that phase.
“He’s going to have an impact on this game beyond what he does defensively. I have no doubt in my mind.
What Stephany can do on a football field has impressed the Butler University coaching staff.
Stephany will go for the Bulldogs at the collegiate level, but he first wanted to represent Lafayette Jeff once again.
“Thinking about it, my hair stood up right now, which gives me chills,” Stephany said. “To be able to represent this community and everyone around me and go out there and show that kids like me can play. I never thought I was going to be able to play in the All-Star Game. To compete for this community and everyone around me and have one last game, for all the seniors who have graduated, I’m putting this out to them.
It’s no surprise to Shanley that Stephany is playing for something more than himself.
But rest assured, Stephany also plays for himself.
He’s playing to prove he belongs in the same arena as many of Indiana’s top senior football players last fall.
Unlike a typical Friday night, there is no reconnaissance report.
The all-star event is simply about going 11-on-11 and freestyling a lot of ways, especially from the safety position.
“When you watch a movie, you watch what individual guys are doing and you study them as a test. (In the All-Star Game) You go out knowing you have to drive,” Stephany said. “You put your best effort first. You’re not going to do everything right. I’m going to go out there and play 100%.
“As long as I give 100% and keep going, keep going, at the end of the day, I will be satisfied. That’s how it goes. You don’t watch a movie. Just go over there and play ball.
Sam King covers sports for the Journal & Courier. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @samueltking.
North/South Star Classic
Friday, 7 p.m.
At Ben Davis High School
Local stakeholders: JT Downey, linebacker, West Lafayette; Ky Risner, offensive line, Rensselaer; Colin Seymour, kicker, Twin Lakes; Steven Stephany, security, Jeff Lafayette; Thomas Urban, defensive line, Harrison