A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

OPINION: The Bear Cubs need to roll with Santino Chavez at QB

Christian Vieyra
Bear Cubs quarterback Santino Chavez dumps the ball to a running back after evading a sack and fleeing the pocket in a 15-7 loss against the Modesto Pirates Sept. 10 at Bailey Field.

With conference play starting this week, the Bear Cubs’ best opportunity to score would be sticking to a single QB, giving the offense a greater sense of continuity. 

Freshman quarterback Santino Chavez is ready for the task.

Before the 2022 season opener against San Francisco City College, I watched a Tuesday night practice that involved an intense 7-on-7 red zone drill. When coaches rotated quarterbacks frequently. Chavez and sophomore Carson Budke competed for the starting role.

Both looked the part, but one stood out to me. Chavez zipped his throws through tight windows and put the ball in a place only his receivers could catch, leading receivers to catch touchdown after touchdown.

When comparing the two, there is an obvious difference in size, as Budke is listed at 6-foot-1 and Chavez is listed at a generous 5-foot-11. Although Chavez performed well, his size gave me doubts about his ability to perform this well in-game. This isn’t high school. The defensive linemen are significantly bigger at the collegiate level and they can easily bat down balls thrown down the middle. 

Week One rolled along, and the Bear Cubs displayed their dual-quarterback offense, because Head Coach Lenny Wagner believed neither of the two out-proved the other. The Bear Cubs competed against the defending CCCAA champion San Francisco City College Rams, but fell short, despite both JC quarterbacks throwing touchdowns. 

Budke would continue to get snaps through Week Five with three touchdowns but his one dimensional play style limits the Bear Cubs’ offense. 

SRJC struggled early in the season, but Chavez stood out as a dual threat quarterback, with the ability to maneuver his way out of a collapsing pocket and throw on the run. It became clear that Chavez allowed the offense to move the ball downfield, using his legs and his arm.

Although the Bear Cubs offense was no match for the Modesto Pirates in Week 2, Chavez kept plays alive multiple times. Chavez demonstrated he could either roll out of the pocket or dump the ball to an open running back. Chavez also took off when he felt pressured and fought for extra yards with his legs. 

The Bear Cubs used both quarterbacks in Week 4 at 1-2 when Chavez had his breakout game vs. Chabot and solidified his case to be the sole Bear Cubs QB. Chavez threw for over 200 yards and had three touchdowns in a 47-18 route of the Gladiators. 

Chavez, from Bay Area powerhouse Pittsburg High, now leads the Bear Cubs quarterbacks’ room in yards and touchdowns, with 681 yards and 6 touchdowns through 5 games.

As conference play approaches, Chavez as lone commander of the huddle will allow the offense’s chemistry to blossom as the Bear Cubs push for the playoffs. 

The Bear Cubs locker room is built for adversity, as there have been no gripes from players about the team’s using two quarterbacks. “I like both of them to be honest… we are such a close team,” offensive guard Kaleb Torres said. 

As coach Wagner said after the Modesto loss, if one of his two QBs steps up, the job is theirs. 

Chavez has stepped up, and he should take every snap this Saturday against Butte — and for the rest of the season.

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About the Contributor
Christian Vieyra
Christian Vieyra, Sports Editor, Reporter
Christian Vieyra (he/him) is in his fourth semester at The Oak Leaf and is a sports editor. He aspires to be a professional sports journalist and plans to transfer to a 4-year college this fall.

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