Jacksonville Episcopal quarterback Albert Chester has single-handedly led his Eagles to a sterling and dominating 8-0 record. But the incredulous shame for Chester and his teammates is that they cannot move on to the Florida state playoffs this year, regardless of their record and state rankings. The Episcopal Athletic Director pulled the team out of their league two years ago and went independent when the program was struggling, and there was a fear that the "bald" Eagles could regularly get their wings clipped in brutal competition. The move was generally supported at the time, but few had the vision of what Chester would do to single-handedly turn the program around.
Some of his games help to illustrate the awesome numbers he has put up this year. Against Melbourne Catholic Central this past week, he put up close to 400 yards in a 27-10 win with one touchdown in the air, one on the ground, and three more that were called back by whistle-happy officials. The week before that he threw for three scores and ran another in. In Episcopal's closest game of the year (a 55-53 win over Taylor), he threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns. A 28-14 win over South Carolina's Porter-Gaud came on Chester's shoulders, with a throwing score and two late fourth quarter running scores on quarterback options. Against Hilliard, he threw for four touchdowns and 245 yards on just 16 completions. And it goes on and on. For the season, he has thrown for 1700 yards and 19 touchdowns versus just four interceptions.
Chester describes the offense that is showcasing his talents as a "run and shoot" offense, mostly out of a pro set but with a little bit of option. He has the freedom to call audibles at the line of scrimmage, but regrettably does not yet have that same green light to improvise his own scrambles. "The coaches haven't yet turned me loose, not quite yet how I would like," adds the senior Jacksonville quarterback. When you note that even in a constrained scheme that asks him to pass first and run only in emergencies, Chester has put up some five hundred yards rushing and seven scores on the ground - well, you can only imagine what damage he could do with the chains off. The best chances for him to run currently are called bootlegs (our favorite play, Albert!) and a recently installed quarterback counter.
Even with no post-season available, he has some big games in November to look forward to. Jacksonville Episcopal squares off in their season finale against their top rival, Bishop Kenny, on the 7th, and then the Eagles will travel to Orlando on the 21st to play against a big out-of-state opponent in the annual Disney Bowl. That opponent was previously to be a team from New Orleans, but now Disney is looking possibly at a school from Pennsylvania.
On the recruiting front, Albert Chester still maintains that Stanford is clearly his number one choice, and at this point he is only awaiting the admissions process at Stanford to give his verbal commitment. He submitted his completed application a few weeks ago, but it is unclear how soon he will hear back. His cumulative GPA of 3.4 and SAT of 1070 are not slam dunks by any stretch. His father says that he has been signed up for the November SAT test date this Saturday, but that he may have to pass on that with a long-distance travel game Friday night. I imagine the Stanford coaches would very much like to see Chester get a higher SAT score before pushing his application all the way through Old Union, and the prospect of his not taking the test until December is an unpleasant one. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the coming weeks, but my guess is that the Stanford coaches are currently pleading with the Chester family to have Albert take this Saturday's test.
The Episcopal senior says he just received his latest report card, with a 3.6 GPA including courses in physics, business math, world & conflict (a debate class), marine biology and senior English. He says that all of his textbooks are college books, and his father notes that his essays and teach recommendations should help round out a "tight" Stanford application.
He has scheduled his official visit to Stanford the weekend of January 10, and will also travel to Vanderbilt and the Air Force Academy later that month. His other two visit slots are open at this time, and his father notes that a lot more interest has come his son's way with his senior performances. Florida is calling weekly and stepping up their tone, while schools like Boston College and Purdue are now addressing him as a quarterback recruit and not the previous label of "athlete" recruit.
Closing note: it was reported by several recruiting services yesterday that Albert has committed to Stanford, as sourced from either an Episcopal coach or the Athletic Director. But this is not true. Albert and the Chester family understand that the admissions process at Stanford still needs to conclude for him. They also understand that a full commitment to Stanford, likely though it may be if and when he is accepted, cannot take place until that time. Unfortunately, coaches or high school officials do not often fully grasp this crucial element of the Stanford recruiting process, and so they can often misinterpret a recruit's emotional commitment to Stanford for a complete verbal commitment. This happened in a Jacksonville newspaper back in June after Albert Chester took an exciting unofficial visit to Stanford, and that is again the case here... to set the record straight.