It’s when things sometimes look their worst that Roncalli quarterback Derek O’Connor is at his best.
The left-handed senior doesn’t go looking for broken plays. He does, however, know what to do in such situations.
“I like to use my legs a lot. I love running the ball. Making plays when nothing is there,” said O’Connor, the son of former Rebels quarterback BJ O’Connor, who as a senior led the offense for coach Bruce Scifres’ first Roncalli club in 1990.
“I’ve got a great offensive line, too. If a play breaks down, they continue blocking the whole time.”
In his first season as a starter, O’Connor has completed a ridiculous 72 percent of his passes (43 of 60) for three touchdowns. He has carried the football 46 times for 99 yards and a score.
Roncalli is 4-0 for the first time since since 2004.
Never was O’Connor’s flair for the dramatic more evident than in a 21-14 conquest of bitter rival Chatard on Sept. 2.
With the score tied at 14-14, O’Connor hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Connor Gore for the winning points.
In its first three games this season, Roncalli had a total of 29 offensive series. O’Connor was the voice in the huddle for 27 of them, with not a single turnover.
The programs the Rebels have defeated this season are presently ranked among the top one-fifth of teams in Indiana, according to the weekly Sagarin Ratings — Chatard is 25th, Southport 30th, Plainfield 40th and Franklin Central 65th.
It doesn’t get much easier this week, with Roncalli hosting Class 2A unbeaten Indianapolis Scecina (No. 107 in the Sagarin Ratings).
Scifres knows with a schedule like his, having a quarterback who is calm in the clutch is a tremendous benefit.
“Derek has been a great competitor who has shown a propensity for making plays,” Scifres said. “He’s one of the better running quarterbacks we’ve had, and has done a nice job of being patient and just has a knack for making things happen.
“He’s been a playmaker when the game is on the line.”