CLEARWATER — For the record, for those who wrote off Countryside quarterback Jimbo Chmelik this week (and I'll admit I was one who thought coach John Davis was making a change based on the local intel):
Jimbo can see above the line of scrimmage.
He can scramble.
His arm is good enough to make the big throws.
He is a winner.
All these things, and even more, were points of debate leading up to Countryside's district opener. Consider the debate settled after the Cougars' surprisingly dominating 49-34 victory over Dunedin.
"That was as good a performance as I've ever seen from any quarterback I've ever had," said Davis, and that is mighty fine praise considering he's had a few good ones.
Jimbo, maligned for a slow start this season and a loss last week to St. Petersburg that seemed to undo the good from the week before in a win over Gibbs, was simply brilliant.
He completed 9-of-12 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for 53 yards.
Pedestrian, maybe. Until you consider that almost every one of those yards meant something.
He made big play — how about the 19-yard run to the 1 to set up a Cougar score after Dunedin had pulled within 28-26 early in the second half — after big play — how about his 29-yard run on the next series down to the 4, to set up the game clincher?
While the surprisingly flat Falcons fumbled and bumbled their way through the first 15 minutes, Jimbo was slicing them up with his arm and feet.
"That was by far his best effort, and his best game," said Davis.
Apparently, Jimbo loves a challenge. Line him up against three other quality quarterbacks in the spring — taller, bigger, with stronger arms — and watch him chase two off to other schools and keep his starting job.
Threaten to take away that job in the fall after a few weeks, and watch him make Dunedin's defense look like a junior varsity unit and keep his back-up at bay.
You want Jimbo's job?
Well, come and get it.
"I'm proud of the way he stepped up," said Davis.
He had to.
On Monday and Tuesday, backup Ryan Dailey took most of the snaps in practice. Word quickly spread that Jimbo was being benched, that Davis had grown weary of his starter.
"There was a lot of drama all week with the quarterback position. Yeah, sure, there were some doubts," Jimbo said. "But if I had been benched, I would have just kept my head down and kept working hard."
Davis, however, was not weary. Just a little restless.
Jimbo was still his starter, but Dailey was going to see a good many snaps against Dunedin. Change seemed to be in the air, even if the whiff of it was faint.
But a funny thing happened between Jimbo's first pass and Dailey's first pass — about three quarters worth of flawless play.
"He took that as a challenge this week," Davis said. "Maybe he needs that."
And if that wasn't enough, Dunedin started Ryan Singer at quarterback, one of Jimbo's spring competitors who bolted for the Falcons when he didn't win the job down the road.
Davis is the first to admit that Singer is the best college quarterback prospect of all the kids that auditioned in May. And through three weeks, Singer has been better than Jimbo and was supposedly playing on the better team.
So not only did Jimbo have to beat a Dunedin defense that was supposed to be scary fast with wicked hitters, he had to:
Hold off Dailey.
Good thing for Countryside, it was like spring all over again.