With Lely quarterback Ward Tanner posting impressive statistics week after week last season, all backup Culmer St. Jean could do was sit and watch.So St. Jean spent the time studying Tanner’s every move.He studied Tanner’s near-flawless, five-step dropback, his throwing technique and his penchant to lead Lely late in games.
“I learned a lot just from watching,” St. Jean said.The Trojans will find out just how much he learned this season. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior, who didn’t take a single snap last season, will be the Trojans’ signal-caller. Tanner, who threw for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, graduated.
“It’s going to be hard to replace Ward,” St. Jean said. “He had a strong arm, and he made things happen in tight situations, but I’m going to try. We’ll see what I can do.”Lely coach Chris Metzger said St. Jean has the potential to do a lot this season. So do his teammates.”In the beginning, I was like, ‘Nah, he can’t do it,’ ” senior tailback Fafa Alce said. “But as the practices have gone on — Culmer’s been getting 50 snaps per day — he’s been putting everything together. He’s looking great right now.”
Like Tanner, St. Jean has a strong arm. In the Trojans’ spring game against St. Petersburg Boca Ciega, he completed four passes for more than 20 yards each and fired a 45-yard touchdown pass.St. Jean is also a capable runner. In addition to starting at defensive back, he was Lely’s punt returner last season. St. Jean had an 82-yard punt return against Barron Collier last year.
He has run a 4.5-second 40-yard dash.”I like to sit in the pocket, but if you pressure me I’ll break one on you,” St. Jean said.Alce, one of the area’s corps of talented running backs, should help make St. Jean’s first season under center easier.
Despite battling several leg injuries last season, Alce rushed for 549 yards and nine touchdowns.”I wasn’t satisfied with last year,” Alce said. “This year, I’m coming out with vengeance.”
The vengeance has already began. Alce rushed for 228 yards and two touchdowns against Boca Ciega.
Junior got to study standout Tanner last year
St. jeanJunior QB
* Lely’s Danny Huffor, left, caught 30 passes for 569 yards and two scores last season as a junior.File PhotO