ST. GEORGE – Dixie State College freshman Cody Stevenson didn't realize that only three games into the football season he would have moved from third string to starting quarterback. But he's up for the challenge, he says, and ready to get DSC on a winning track.
As a senior at Juan Diego High School last year, Stevenson led the team into the playoffs, winning the 3A state championship in the last few seconds of the game against Hurricane. With 45 seconds left and 85 yards to go, Stevenson said it was a "gut check-moment."
"We were moments away from losing the state championship game," he said. "I looked and everyone was down and I really owed it to my team to go out and finish this game. I didn't want to be the guy who got the loss for us."
Stevenson threw the winning touchdown pass to teammate Bruce Knicks with 28 seconds left in the game, taking home the championship. He ended his senior year with 18 touchdown passes and 1,800 passing yards. That was enough to get him a scholarship to several Division II schools; but Stevenson wanted to go to DSC, knowing he wouldn't be the starting quarterback. Or so he thought.
After working with offensive coordinator Phil Rauscher, Stevenson was able to prove to himself and his coaches that he could do it. He led the team last week and gave DSC their closest-scoring game of the season, although they lost 24-14 to No. 13 Central Washington. But it was a big improvement.
The team is starting to come together with the help of a new coaching staff, Stevenson said. Even he admitted he had to adjust to college football.
"Everything is faster: corners, safety, linebackers. Everything moves faster – the reads and everything," he said. "It was tough at first. Coach Rauscher really helped me out. He's done a ton for me. This organization, the whole line, has been helping me out."
Stevenson will lead the team tonight against Humboldt State with his supportive family and some 3,500 fans cheering him on. The oldest of three, Stevenson's parents and siblings never miss a game. His younger brother is even following in his footsteps, playing quarterback for Juan Diego.
Stevenson said he knows Humboldt will be a tough game, but he thinks Dixie is ready.
"We've stepped up and look really, really good," he said. "We're really going to come out and bring our 'A' game."