When fans think about famous "Hail Mary" passes, the two names that inevitably come to mind are Doug Flutie and Kordell Stewart. Now, after one of the most amazing last-second plays you'll ever see, Flutie and Stewart might have to make room for Kingsburg (Calif.) High School quarterback Garrett Steele. And thanks to YouTube, we can all see just how magical the last-second play that gave Kingsburg a 19-15, season-opening win over San Luis Obispo really was.
According to official statistics, the play was snapped at the 20-yard line, which is almost precisely where Steele unfurled his 40-yard pass to running back Taylor Abernathy. In fact, if you look closely, Steele was approximately a stride away from crossing the 20 and earning a game-ending illegal forward pass penalty.
Instead, he made a play that is almost sure to go down in California high school football history, thanks in part to a devastating block from Kingsburg's Zach Bethel.
"It was going to be the last play no matter what and Garrett was running around, and he threw it a long way," Kingsburg coach Dave Steele, who is also the quarterback's uncle, told the Kingsburg Recorder. "When Taylor caught it and was running down the sideline, I knew we had a chance to score. Then Taylor scored and everyone went crazy. It was just pandemonium."
What makes the play even more amazing is that the younger Steele wasn't even supposed to be the player throwing the pass. According to the Recorder, Steele was forced into action when the Vikings' starting quarterback, junior Austin Bray, left the game with a severe wrist injury and broken left arm in the second quarter. Steele then moved over to quarterback after starting the game at running back, which helps explain his elusiveness in the backfield on the miraculous final play.
Bray, whose older brother Tyler quarterbacked the Vikings in 2009 before signing with the University of Tennessee, is expected to miss six weeks after surgery to repair his broken arm. He might have a hard time wrestling the quarterback spot back from Steele if the replacement quarterback's heroics continue.
Even if Friday's win does turn out to be Steele's one magical moment as a signal caller, there's little doubt it will spread much farther than central California.
"I have been coaching 16 years and have never experienced anything quite like that," Dave Steele told The Recorder. "These are the kind of things you see on YouTube and you don't think you will ever be a part of one, but we were."
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- Dave Steele