Blake Jaeckels had big shoes to fill heading into the 2014 football season.

He was taking over at quarterback for a two-year starter in Curry Parham, who had led St. Joseph to one PAC 7 League title and 15 wins over the previous two seasons.

The starting quarterback position at St. Joseph High brings a lot of notoriety and pressure.

Jaeckels, a junior in 2014, handled that type of pressure just fine. He threw for nearly 2,000 and 24 touchdowns in his first season in charge at St. Joseph. He followed that up with a spectacular senior season, where he added 24 more passing touchdowns and 2,400 passing yards in 2015.

But Jaeckels wasn't a pocket-passing quarterback. He was a dynamic athlete as well. In two seasons with the Knights, he also rushed for 20 touchdowns and 1,356 yards.

In his first season at quarterback, the Knights went 7-5 and 3-1 in the Los Padres League, just missing out on a league title in a thrilling 24-23 loss at home to Lompoc, the perennial area heavyweight.

"I'm real excited. That's what I played in high school so it's going to be fun," Cole said during a recent fall practice. "Going from high school to here, we ran the triple option for three years and now I'm getting back to that slot position. It's going to be exciting." 

In his first game starting at quarterback on the varsity level, Jaeckels completed 17 of 24 passes for 270 yards and five touchdowns in a 42-20 throttling of Santa Fe. He also rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown in that win. 

Jaeckels also led the Knights to a 24-9 playoff win over Eastside that year before they were eventually eliminated in the CIF quarterfinals against a star-studded Newbury Park team that featured future NFL starter Darnay Holmes. 

The Knights were even better in 2015 as Jaeckels took another step forward in his development. He mirrored his touchdown total with 24 passing and 10 rushing, but drastically cut his interceptions down. Jaeckels was intercepted 16 times in his junior season and only seven times in his senior campaign as the Knights went 9-3. Their only losses that year were to Lompoc (42-21), Arroyo Grande (41-7) and Camarillo (38-7). Camarillo went 15-1 that year and won a CIF Southern Section title, eliminating the Knights on their way.

The three teams that beat the Knights that season went a combined 36-5.  

Jaeckels led St. Joseph to a 42-6 win over cross-street rival Righetti that year, completing 19 of 25 passes for 267 yards, four touchdowns passing and another rushing to make up for a lop-sided loss the year before.

The final win Jaeckels led the Knights to was a 26-16 CIF-SS Northern Division playoff win over Atascadero. Jaeckels completed 26 of 36 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns in that one. He also rushed for two touchdowns. 

"He's a great player," then St. Joseph coach Dustin Davis said of Jaeckels that night. "I still think he can play better. He's that good."

Jaeckels wrapped up his two-year run as the Knights' starting quarterback completing 57% (321 of 564) of his throws for 4,383 yards, 48 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He also rushed 272 times for 1,356 yards and 20 more touchdowns, accounting for 68 total scores in two seasons. (He was also St. Joseph's punter, averaging about 30 yards a kick on 48 tries).

Jaeckels' career at St. Joseph is being highlighted as part of "The Other Guys" series, which aims to feature standout football players who narrowly missed out on a Player of the Decade nomination or were overlooked during their prep careers. Submissions for athletes to be featured as part of the series can be sent to the author.

Jaeckels, who also competed in track and field at St. Joseph, did not continue playing football after high school, attending Chico State, where he dabbled in the decathlon.

Player of the Decade Boys Basketball: Get to know the nominees before voting starts

It's almost time to vote in our boys basketball player of the decade poll, have you taken a moment to read about the nominees? Go through this collection of profiles and get ready for the voting.  We have been working to highlight the decade's best players in several different sports over the last few months, and now we continue with boys basketball. We've really enjoyed the level of participation we've had with the football and girls basketball polls, so share these profiles and the contest with your friends to get the word out and support our local athletes.  

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