Templeton Eagles currently ranked No. 4 in D4
TEMPLETON — Coming into this season the Templeton High School football team had only won eight games in the last three years combined, on Friday, the Eagles defeated Mission Prep 38-21 to claim the undefeated Ocean League Title, first since 2005, and move to 8-1 on the year. There have been two major changes to the program between last year and this year, one of them being the re-hiring of head coach Don Crow and the other has been the development of junior quarterback Tyler Kaschewski who quickly became the county’s most exciting player and has proven to be one of the most dynamic in the state.
Kaschewski wasn’t on anyone’s radar coming into the season because not even the Templeton coaching staff really knew what they had as they entered the season splitting time with senior quarterback Zack Logan who opened the 2018 season as the starter, but something was clear from the beginning, they wanted to get the ball in his hands.
“I would say that was a conversation [who should start] we had probably the first offensive meeting before spring started was between the two of them,” offensive coordinator Tyler Lane said. “I wouldn’t say either guy had a leg up, I would say different guys on the staff had a different opinion of each guy and it was something that we just kind of let play through that summer and into the first week of the season.”
As a sophomore, the quarterback affectionately known as “Chewy” by his peers operated primarily out of the slot racking up 706 yards on 49 receptions with six touchdowns. Those statistics alone are pretty impressive but are even more so when most of those yards came off of bubble screens. His elusiveness was evident last year and now with the ball in his hands every play he has become borderline unstoppable.
Kashchewski stands 5-foot-11-inches and is listed at 190 pounds and is a touchdown factory for the green and white. Through nine games this season he has 22 rushing touchdowns which ranks him third in the state for quarterbacks regardless of division or size of school, according to Maxpreps.com. His 1,377 rushing yards currently has him in a tie for second among quarterbacks in California and all of this has come with the standout not starting week one and sitting out the fourth quarter of a couple of games down the stretch.
While he is already, unquestionably one of the top quarterbacks in the area, he is just starting to break the surface of what he is capable of because he is still learning the position.
“This is the first year that I have ever played quarterback,” Kashewski said in an interview last week. ”I have always been a running back or wide receiver…but it has taught me how to read the field a lot better and find the open holes in the defense and hit the gaps harder.”
The Eagles don’t have much of a passing game but that could have less to do with the offense’s ability and more to do with their need and their newfound identity. A season ago, the Eagles’ biggest problem was their defense. Templeton earned a bit of a reputation for being soft and at times had their defense out on the field for long stretches because the no-huddle offense, for all its strengths, gives teams that run it a tendency to either score or punt quickly.
This season the Eagles have controlled the pace of each game due to their tremendous running attack and have changed the culture to one of grit and toughness and that starts with the QB.
“It is great because we can run the ball,” coach Crow said. “That makes everything so much better for our defense because they might not be out there as long but some of those runs are pretty long. So we have had some short drives, playwise, but it has been good for our defense and I think some of it carries over because some of those kids play on defense and to understand the physicality of running the football, I think that has made us more physical on defense stopping the run, just that mentality has helped us a lot.”
While Kaschewski is the leader he is not the only Templeton runner turning heads this season as the Eagles also attack teams with two running backs which must give defensive coordinators nightmares back to the SMU “Pony Express” days.
Junior running back Josh Berna and senior Michael Avery split time next to Kaschewski in the shotgun and each brings a different element to the game. Berna is a one-cut back that sticks his foot in the ground and runs downhill and while he looks slender on the field he delivers far more shots than he takes and paired with Avery who is the bigger back, but probably the most patient of the three, who also takes a special joy in blasting someone under the chin, there hasn’t been a team they have faced yet that wanted to tackle either of the three late in the fourth quarter.
Kaschewski has reeled off some of the best games on the Central Coast since the days of Logan Budd at Morro Bay. The junior scored seven touchdowns on Sept. 9 against Carmel, five on the ground, while rushing for 286 yards and throwing for 181 and followed it up with a 139-yard, two-touchdown performance in what was the biggest game of the year in SLO County when the Eagles upset the SLO Tigers who were being touted as the best team in the county all summer.
However, even with all of the yards, touchdowns and accolades, Kaschewski, as well as the entire offense knows that they would not be where they are without the work of his dominant offensive line.
“I would say the real X-factor in all of it, Chef is great, Berna is great, Mikey is great,” Lane said. “But we have six, seven guys up front that are great too that are making great adjustments to things we haven’t seen.”
Defense’s across the county have begun to take notice of Templeton’s version of Lamar Jackson and began scheming to take the ball out of his hands but as his knowledge of the offense expands, paired with his refusal to be selfish with the ball, multiplied by the offensive line and playmakers around him has lead to the Eagles averaging nearly 400 yards rushing per game.
Following Friday’s game against Nipomo, the Eagles head into the postseason riding a wave of confidence as the revenge tour continues.
“It feels amazing to be able to prove everyone wrong,” Kaschewski said. “And to tell everyone that we are good, that we can do this, that we can go to CIF and we can win.”