That Tyquell Fields accomplished so much with so few opportunities last season said more than enough about his talent. Just consider Stepinac’s first meeting with rival Iona Prep. Over the course of that 35-19 comeback win on Oct. 4, Fields attempted just eight passes and had two rushing attempts yet he accounted for four of the Crusaders’ five touchdowns, throwing for three and rushing for another.
Yes, Fields clearly left an impact as a junior, but Friday’s season opener at Newburgh Free Academy was the beginning of his next chapter. There’s no question that Stepinac is now his team.
“I’m pretty excited because last year I think I could’ve gotten on the field way more,” Fields said. “This year, I’ll be on the field a lot. I think I’ll get to show what I have, what I can do and what I’m capable of.”
That Fields played at all last year proved he was capable of much more than the average backup. He was good enough to split playing time with Brandon Coleman, who was not only a returning starter, but a Division I commit to the Naval Academy. Coleman embraced the situation and even shifted to running back in certain packages so he and Fields could be in the backfield together.
“We talked to Brandon and Tyquell and they understood that we needed to use Brandon, but still get Tyquell enough playing time to put a great highlight (film) together,” coach Mike O’Donnell said. “You always have to think when you have a talented kid like Tyquell that you need to get him ready as well. Tyquell won games for us last year, as did Brandon. They were two very different types of quarterbacks. Both of them bought into the system and respected each other.”
Fields managed to throw for 630 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 72 attempts. He had not only the three touchdowns against Iona Prep, he also threw for 190 yards and two scores on just nine attempts against Chaminade.
Fields no longer needs to worry about picking his spots to shine. Stepinac, the defending CHSFL AAA champs, return loaded on defense, but the offense graduated nearly all of its starters.
Those absences could lead to some transition, one that results in the Crusaders turning more to the air to suit Fields’ skills.
“I think people will see a dual-threat quarterback,” he said. “But I like to throw more, so (defenses) have to pretty much cover most of the time.”
Fields’ style may differ from Coleman, who, at just 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, was a run-first quarterback. Still, the team expects him to thrive nonetheless.
“Last year we always wanted the ball in Brandon’s hands at game’s end, but this year it’s Tyquell’s team,” O’Donnell said. “All the players respect him and love to play with him and for him.”
And now Fields will have plenty of chances to play for them, too.