SPRING HILL — At 5 feet 8 and 160 pounds, Brian Beeker doesn’t exactly look like the prototypical leader of men on the gridiron.
Stature isn’t his strong suit, but heart is on his side. He uses experience and a never-say-die attitude to lead Springstead, and behind that combination, Beeker has the Eagles in the state playoffs for the first time since 2005.
“After having an extra year (of starting last year and) getting reps, that was a big advantage for Brian,” 13-year coach Bill Vonada said.
“He is also one of the faster guys we have. He’s broken the longest run for us this year.”
Beeker, a senior, has been overlooked by major colleges despite putting up some eye-popping statistics and possessing obvious talent. While directing the Eagles’ option attack, he has led the team in rushing with 1,116 yards and seven touchdowns.
He is a little different than the line of quarterbacks he has followed. Last year, he split time with Chris Kelley, more of a pocket passer who had the ability to run. Before Kelley, the guy under center was one of the most proficient passers in school history, James Mahla.
Don’t be fooled. It’s not that Beeker can’t burn opponents with the pass. He uses the threat of his legs to keep defenses off balance and open up the pass. He tossed three touchdown passes against River Ridge this season.
He’ll need to use all of these abilities and more to guide the Eagles (5-5) to their first playoff victory since 2004 Friday at Wiregrass Ranch (6-4). With two weeks to prepare for the Bulls, Vonada knows the play of the offense will be crucial.
“First and foremost, we have to play within ourselves,” Vonada said. “We have to control the ball. Everyone loves to rip off big touchdown plays, but we have to be patient.”
Despite having never been to the postseason, Beeker is ready for the challenge.
“I am not really nervous,” he said. “I just have to play a little harder, and we have to have our best game.”
As for his future, he’s just taking it the way he always has: playing hard and controlling what he can control. He’s had some looks from the Coast Guard Academy, Mount Union and Central Connecticut State, but his focus right now is on a postseason run.
“Maybe I can open some eyes. Coaches are always looking at quarterbacks,” Beeker said. “We just have to win games.”