Dowden sharing the wealth for Big Foot football
Early last summer, Walworth Big Foot football coach Rodney Wedig informed Dowden that the Chiefs would be hopping on the spread-offense bandwagon.
The senior quarterback thought his coach had lost his mind. The Chiefs had advanced to the WIAA Division 4 state title game a year ago by pounding the ball and controlling the clock.
“We’re Big Foot, and we run the ball. That’s the first thing I thought of,” Dowden said. “But once coach sat me down and started telling about how the spread offense would give me an even bigger role, I was hooked.
“Now, I can’t believe we didn’t go to it sooner. It’s an awesome offense with the weapons we have.”
Dowden may not be weapon No. 1—all-everything senior Michael Walker wears that hat—but his 26-1 record as the starting quarterback tells you all you need to know about the 6-foot-1, 185-pound playmaker.
In leading the Chiefs to a 13-0 record heading into Thursday night’s clash with Kewaunee, Dowden has eclipsed his brother Mike’s school record with 22 touchdown passes. Dowden has thrown for 1,505 yards, has completed close to 60 percent of his passes and has been intercepted only nine times in 180 attempts.
Dowden credits his older brother, Mike—a first-year varsity assistant with the Chiefs—with keeping him grounded during games.
“If something good happens, Mike is the last one to greet me on the sidelines,” Steve said. “He lets my teammates come and high-five me or whatever else we do, and then he comes over.
“If I throw an interception or the drive doesn’t go the way I wanted, Mike is the first one to meet me on the sidelines. And it’s always an encouraging word about what went wrong and how can we correct it next time. He’s been a big help.”
With another dominating season, Steve hasn’t needed a lot of brotherly, fatherly or coaching advice. His father, Dan, is Big Foot’s boys basketball coach.
Wedig said the fact that Steve quickly absorbed the spread offense and makes sound decisions on the field are the biggest reasons for his success.
“I think more than anything, Steve is a little bit more comfortable this year,” Wedig said. “If we’re in a second-and- long, or we get a penalty that backs us up, he knows there are now a number of plays because of the spread at his disposal.
“Steve reads the field as well as any quarterback I’ve seen. I don’t know how many times this year he bailed us out by finding a receiver that wasn’t one of his primary options.”
With one game left in his high school career, Dowden hopes to bring a gold ball back to Big Foot.
“I think for those of us that played last year for a state title, we felt like we let the community down when we lost to Wautoma,” Dowden said. “That was a really big motivator for us this season.
“The one thing we learned last year was that 13-0 doesn’t mean a thing. It’s now down to one game that we’ve been (as of Tuesday) waiting 362 days for.”
One game, and one more chance for Steve Dowden to spread the wealth.