Jayden Steinkamp is the kind of player network television would love to link up with a helmet cam for entertainment value.
The Brownstown Central senior is a running back who seems to run two plays at once coming out of the backfield, starting out with the intent of going around end, then abruptly slicing back to the middle due to the lure of a slowly developing path.
Just give him the ball and Steinkamp will give you a first down. Close to it anyway since thus far in the Braves’ 4-1 season, he has rushed for 495 yards while averaging 9.0 a carry.
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Steinkamp may be a guy who moves fast, given he has a track man’s 100-meter sprint speed, but he seems to have a slow motion mechanism built into his vision, too.
“I’m always very patient and try to stretch it (the run),” he said. “The hole will form eventually.”
Only a few nights earlier, Brownstown mustered one of the great finishes in Indiana high school football, twice coming from behind in the last minute against rival Seymour to stash away a memorable 43-42 win.
Steinkamp scored the game’s first touchdown and rushed for 90 yards, a major contributor, though not his finest game of the season. He already has banked a 196-yard rushing night and has six TDs as well as mixing in some major hits on defense.
In the immediate moments after the miraculous finish, Steinkamp admitted, “It was (hard to believe). I did think we were going to win. Right now, I’m high.”
Exhaustion was soon to follow, he was sure, but then once the elation wore off, Brownstown had to get ready for the next game, a Mid-Southern Conference contest Friday night at home against 3-3 Clarksville. It was back to the business of capturing a sectional title.
“He’s (coach Reed May) basically telling us if we just do what we’re supposed to do, we can do some great things,” Steinkamp said.
One game is one game, and May said while the victory was worth celebrating, the mindset had to swiftly reset.
“We move on,” May said. “We have to win to have a chance to win the conference.”
Steinkamp, 17, has emerged as a first-rate contributor as a senior after working his way through the Braves system.
“Every year, they get better,” May said of players moving into positions of responsibility as seniors. “By then, they’re ready to run the ball.”
Steinkamp has been playing football since age 8, so he has been waiting a long time for this featured role. He doesn’t want it to be his final season, either, hoping his future includes playing at either Hanover College or Franklin College.
Jake Steinkamp, 14, should take heart from May’s message about his own future. He is a freshman and right now doesn’t get the same kind of varsity playing time as his older brother. He is glad he has the chance to share this one season with Jayden, though.
“I was hoping this year would be fun,” said Jake, who plays some linebacker and special teams.
He also gets some tutoring on the Braves Way from Jayden.
“He has helped me a little bit,” Jake said. “He has taught me a little bit.”
Jayden said he’s trying to play the role of mentor. He wants to come back next year and see bro as a star.
“That’s the plan,” Jayden said.
May said he counts on things like that, Steinkamp the elder’s lessons rubbing off on Steinkamp the younger.
“You hope the younger guys learn,” May said.
Although the passing game was integral to the big plays in the Seymour game, fundamentally the Braves are a running team. Jayden Steinkamp, who stressed praise for the offensive line, said when opponents see Brownstown on the schedule, they think, “They’re going to pound it.”
Many players, especially the bigger ones for whom foot speed in the open field is a foreign concept, say they play football because they like hitting.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Steinkamp said he is all about running away from foes, whether it is in the 100, 200 or relay on the track in the spring or on the field play after play during a long drive.
“That’s a great feeling when you take them apart piece by piece,” he said. “I like running the ball better than defense. I find it a whole better feeling scoring touchdowns than tackling.”