A Visit with Skyline's Jake Heaps

The Skyline Spartans, led by junior quarterback Jake Heaps, boarded the bus in silence. Anticipation filled the air. The destination was Issaquah Stadium, for a battle against rival Issaquah on Oct. 17. Both teams were 6-0, and the Eastside was abuzz.

"We intentionally wanted to get there late," Skyline coach Mat Taylor said. "It's only five miles down the road. We just had the kids dress here and then get on the bus. When we got there, the stands were packed. It was unbelievable. They were turning people away. It was really cool."

The atmosphere was indeed electric. Issaquah felt confident, led by its great running back/safety Grant Gellatly. But following the opening kickoff, Skyline quickly asserted its dominance. Heaps promptly showed why he's considered the nation's #1 prospect for the 2010 class.

After running for one touchdown and passing for another, Heaps made a play for the ages in the second quarter. Operating out of an empty backfield, he avoided the rush to deliver a stunning 87-yard touchdown strike to receiver William Chandler. The score put the Spartans up 21-0, and largely silenced the partisan crowd.

"They actually brought a defensive back in as a defensive end," Heaps said. "I saw this blur coming off the edge as fast as anything I've ever seen. I didn't know what to do. I was able to throw him off me, and keep my eyes downfield. Fortunately, I was able to find William streaking down the sideline. I threw it out there and let him go get it.

"When Willie caught it and scored, I was so excited for him and our team," Heaps said. "I was jumping up and down and pumping my fist. I was just so excited."

"That was one of the best plays I've ever seen Jake make," Skyline receiver Gino Simone said. "I ran an underneath route, and that enabled me the opportunity to be a spectator for a moment. The defensive end was coming hard, and he shoved him off and threw the perfect deep ball. It's plays like that that make him such a great player."

Skyline coasted the rest of the way for a 38-0 win over the Eagles. They followed that up last Friday with a 41-6 win last Friday over Redmond, to run its record to 8-0. The Redmond game also illustrated that Heaps is the recipient of 27 scholarship offers from across the country. That was due to the presence of Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, who stalked the sideline during the rout.

"I was pretty excited to perform for coach Weis," Heaps said. "My teammates were pretty excited too. Coach Weis and couldn't really talk due to NCAA rules. But through email and text messages, he said he had a great time and enjoyed watching me play. He walked up and down the sideline, and was definitely seen by everyone."

Of course, Weis' visit stemmed from Notre Dame's visit to Seattle to take on beleaguered Washington. The Irish throttled the Huskies 33-7, dropping UW to 0-7. Heaps, however, feels a degree of kinship with Husky Nation.

"I love the U-Dub fans, and I know everything is going hard right now," Heaps said. "They've got a great coaching staff and it's tough to see those guys struggling. But the U-Dub fans are great, and they're loyal. I mean, I'm a U-Dub fan too. It's tough to see them losing like that. But you know, I've been to as many practices and games over there as I can."

Often noticed about Heaps is his maturity amid all the attention he receives. The Spartans are playing Bothell on ESPNU this week, and the national spotlight on Skyline continues to grow by the game. He addressed that by discussing how he keeps level-headed.

"The whole recruiting process has been fun, in meeting all these people," Heaps said. "I've seen these big- name coaches on TV, the elite of the elite. And suddenly here they are, calling me and offering scholarships. But they've all been really respectful, and letting me do my thing.

"I know that without God in my life, none of this stuff would have happened," he added. "It makes me very appreciative. I've learned to never take anything for granted, because it can be taken away from you. Your blessings aren't rights, they are privileges. They aren't rightfully yours. You have to work for them. My big thing is to not get complacent, but to keep working hard. When you see people who think that these things are supposed to come their way, that's when you see people dropping off and not being as good as they used to be. I don't want to be like that.

"So having my faith has been a great balance for me," he said. "Even in my social life, it has helped to keep me away from trouble. Helping me focus on things that are important, like school, football and friends. Having that standard helps me morally.

"It always seems that there's something missing in many people's lives, and they can't quite figure it out," he said. "I'm very fortunate and lucky to know what that missing piece is and to have a good knowledge of the things that I should and shouldn't do. I'm just trying to live my life every day and live as an example of the Lord Jesus Christ. I'll let the future take care of itself."
Derek Johnson can be reached at derekjohnsonbooks@comcast.net

Husky Football in the Don James Era available at www.derekjohnsonbooks.com

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