St. Albert has a family connection

Posted: 11/16/2007 - by

COUNCIL BLUFFS - As grade-schoolers, Matt Waters often played quarterback and launched passes to his younger brother, Jake.

Jake Waters, left, and brother Matt have led St. Albert to the Iowa 1-A football championship game on Friday against Iowa City Regina.Now their roles have reversed, but the Waters-to-Waters connection at Council Bluffs St. Albert is making life miserable for Class 1-A football programs across Iowa.

Sophomore quarterback Jake Waters and junior receiver/linebacker Matt Waters will lead top-rated St. Albert into its fourth 1-A championship game in five years at 3:30 p.m. Friday, when the 12-0 Falcons take on No. 2 Iowa City Regina (12-0) at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. St. Albert is seeking to become the first 1-A team to repeat as champion since West Branch in 1991-92.

In his first season as a starter, Jake Waters has shown a maturity beyond his years. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder has completed 78 of 146 passes (53.4 percent) for 1,382 yards and 18 touchdowns, with just three interceptions.

"He's probably been as composed as any sophomore that I've ever been associated with," St. Albert coach Jim Duggan said. "He's got great poise and excellent leadership skills. He's very confident in himself."

Duggan, a former South Dakota quarterback, has always preached ball security because he knows the effect interceptions have on games.

"That's one of my coaching cardinal sins," he said. "Every quarterback I've ever coached knows that I hate interceptions, because they're game-killers. He's accepted that responsibility and not forced bad balls."

 Jake Waters' favorite target has been his older brother, who is known in the St. Albert hallways as "Mo." At 6-1 and 180 pounds, Mo Waters has caught 21 passes for 533 yards, a sparkling 25.3 per-catch average, and seven touchdowns.

Both brothers say the connection they formed while learning the game in the backyard from their father, Rick, has been invaluable.

"I know what he's going to do and where he's going to be," Jake said. "I know if I just throw it up there, he'll go get it for me."

Duggan said Jake Waters has done a good job distributing the ball to other receivers, and not just locking in on Mo. "But when he gets in a tight situation, he's looking for big brother," Duggan added.

As the older sibling, Mo Waters said he's been able to resist the urge to tell little brother to look for him more often.

"Sometimes I think I'm a little more open than other people," he said, smiling. "But he's the quarterback, so he gets the final decision."

The brothers' competitive fire showed in the fourth quarter of St. Albert's 28-2 semifinal win over Southern Cal. After Jake Waters was tackled on a running play, he was punched by a Mustang player, an action witnessed by several observers on the sideline and confirmed by the St. Albert quarterback. When Jake Waters got up and said something to the defender, he was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, infuriating the Falcons.

On the next play, which was third-and-24, Jake Waters completed a 27-yard pass to his brother.

"He threw it high," Mo Waters said, "and it was either, I get it or it goes out of bounds."

On the next play, Jake Waters sprinted 35 yards into the end zone on an option keeper, clinching the victory.

Now the Falcons are one game from making history. The brothers are excited to play one more game of pitch and catch, just like they did in the backyard years ago.

Regina is "big and fundamentally sound," Jake said. "So it will be a tough game."

By Kevin White Wold-Herald Staff Writer

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