Isaiah Knowles has been a quarterback at Seffner Christian since he was in sixth grade. That’s when he ran the middle school offense, and that’s when coach Travis Puleo saw his future.
“You could tell right then that he was a special player,” Puleo said. “He’s the best athlete I’ve ever coached, and I’ve been doing it for 20 years.”
Knowles took his first varsity snap in the spring game prior to his eighth-grade year. By his freshman year he was the full-time starter. He has never thrown for fewer than 1,300 yards since. For the past two seasons, he has led the Crusaders to the playoffs.
This season, despite missing the first four games due to injury, he has passed for 1,474 yards and 17 touchdowns. Seffner Christian went 1-3 without him, 7-0 with him.
“It was rough being on the sideline but I was that guy trying to help with the plays, trying to help any way I could,” Knowles said. “Once I got back I still had confidence. Coach Puleo called some screens early on (against Tampa Bay Christian) and I got right into the groove. Once we had the pass game working again then it opened up things for our running back, Justin Stubbs.”
Knowles will be under center when the Crusaders take on Northside Christian on Friday night. Every game could be his last at the school. But it won’t be his last football game ever.
He is committed to Navy, where he will play quarterback and study general science.
“My experience was there were a lot of coaches who would recruit you and then stop talking to you,” Knowles said about choosing Navy. “A lot of them thought I was too short (6 feet) and they wanted to get me to play safety. But Navy recruited me as a quarterback.
“I want to play there for four years and if the NFL works out, then fine. But if not I’ve got my four year degree from a great university and I can go on and do other things.”
High school football region semifinals
All games 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Class 2A, Region 3
• No. 3 Seffner Christian at No. 2 Northside Christian
• No. 4 Admiral Farragut at No. 1 Cambridge Christian
Class 3A, Region 3
• No. 5 Clearwater Central Catholic at No. 1 Berkeley Prep
Class 4A, Region 3
• No. 4 Clewiston at No. 1 Lakewood
• No. 3 Tampa Catholic at No. 2 Delray Beach American Heritage
Class 5A, Region 3
• No. 8 Chamberlain at No. 4 Jesuit
Class 5A, Region 2
• No. 4 Nature Coast at No. 1 Orlando Jones
Class 6A, Region 2
• No. 5 Clearwater at No. 1 Gaither
• No. 3 Lake Minneola at No. 2 Largo
Class 7A, Region 3
• No. 3 Manatee at No. 2 Mitchell
Class 7A, Region 2
• No. 5 Bloomingdale at No. 1 Armwood
• No. 6 Tampa Bay Tech at No. 2 Lakeland
Class 8A, Region 2
• No. 4 Steinbrenner at No. 1 Sarasota Riverview