CASEY — Nicco Stepina is the real deal; in fact, Casey-Westfield head coach James Sullivan said one college scout told him he's the best athlete in the area. His skills were on display on Friday.
Stepina, the senior quarterback, rushed for five touchdowns on 13 carries for 174 yards against Newton in Casey-Westfield's 45-13 win, including a 74-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
On the first play after a Newton turnover, Stepina found an opening on the left side of the field. More than 30 yards into his run, he cut across the field and found a lane to the end zone.
“I just kept running and I started cramping up, but I kept seeing my cutback lanes and took it in,” Stepina said.
Newton head coach Jason Fulton said Stepina's 74-yard touchdown, which came with 6:58 to play in the third quarter, was a back breaker for his team.
Newton quarterback Brock Mammoser completed a 39-yard pass to senior Austin Angel, which put the Eagles at the 25-yard-line and closing in on a touchdown that could've made the game 20-14.
However, Newton running back Lucas Huston fumbled on the next play, and then Stepina put the 74-yard stamp on his team's victor one play later.
“We had that long play and felt like we had something going,” Fulton said. “We turned the ball over and the wind went out of our sails on that play. It's pretty demoralizing when you have a guy like Stepina that can take it 74 (yards) in a hurry.”
Containing the quarterback of the second-ranked team in Class 1A was part of Fulton's game plan entering Friday's contest, and Stepina knew it.
Stepina said Newton's defensive ends stayed in the hole on Casey-Westfield's option plays, making him pitch the ball. He said his offensive line did a great job making this happen for him.