St. Vincent senior quarterback Tim Schumer savors his final campaign

St. Vincent quarterback Tim Schumer has thrown for 1,140 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. (Kristin Eberts)

PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- Quarterback Tim Schumer savors pulling on his gold football pants and royal blue jersey before fastening the chin strap on his helmet, adorned with an arrowhead on one side and yellow No. 5 on the other.

He's longed to do it since he was 5 years old.

"I've been waiting to play football at St. Vincent," he said. "Watching my cousins play, I can remember them when I was really young. I remember the '98 season when they went to the dome. I remember the semifinals, and this place was packed."

The opportunity to play football at St. Vincent was robbed from him after he sustained a knee injury just before halftime during the Week 3 game last season. That loss has helped him relish his senior season, where he's led the Indians to a 4-3 record heading into tonight's Class 1 District 2 game at Chaffee.

"I try to play every play like it's my last because you never know what can happen," Schumer said. "There's no reason to hold anything back. Just go all out."

Tim Schumer is the senior quarterback for the St. Vincent football team. His father, Dave Schumer, right, is the team's offensive coordinator. (Kristin Eberts)

And there's a familiar voice calling the plays. His father, Dave, serves as the Indians' offensive coordinator.

"I would say it makes it easier for the simple fact that we rehearse things during the week," Dave said about his son playing quarterback. "We talk about plays. I bounce things off him during the week. A lot of times we're on the same page and we got a real good relationship to the point where even during the game, I'll ask him what he thinks is open."

Schumer's knee injury occurred on a play that looked innocent. He broke off a 38-yard touchdown run along the right sideline late in the second quarter against the Missouri Military Academy last season. A MMA defender clipped his leg, and he went down after clearing the goal line. A slight tear to his PCL and a chip fracture ended up costing him the season.

"It was tough on both of us in different ways for the fact he's missing a whole year and the fact I feel for him that he's missing the whole year," Dave said. "It's something that he'll never get back."

The doctors originally indicated Tim might return late last season, but it became apparent that wouldn't be possible as the weeks passed.

"I understand the doctors wanted what was best for me, but still I wanted to be out there," Tim said. "I would have done anything to play again last year."

Tim returned to the football field for fall camp and tried to put the injury behind him. He said one big hit during practice helped him gain confidence that his knee was ready for football.

"Maybe during camp here and there, but for the most part, I think he's put it in his past and hasn't really been thinking about it," St. Vincent coach Paul Sauer said.

Tim has rushed for 232 yards this season, and Dave said he never once considered not calling a quarterback run to protect his son's knee.

"Not at all," Dave said. "He enjoys running the ball. He probably enjoys running it as much as passing it. Football is a violent sport. The play he got hurt on, he was in the end zone. I've always told him you can't pull up until the play's for sure over. You pull up a little early and relax, that's when you're going to get injured. That's basically what happened."

Tim argues the injury didn't slow him, but his father offers a different opinion.

"He's lost a step," Dave said. "I think he has. He may disagree, but there was a play in the Park Hills game, we ran a veer and we pulled it and faked 10 out of 11 [defenders]. There was one guy, the backside linebacker, he was on a blitz, and he's the only one who read the play. Last year Tim might of outran him. But this year, I think Tim ran for 40 yards and got caught. He never was real fast."

It would be difficult to remove the running option from Tim's arsenal despite his development into one of the area's best quarterbacks. He's thrown for 1,140 yards and 10 touchdowns while completing 57.7 percent of his attempts. But it took a while for him to develop a passion for the position.

"I wanted to be a running back like my dad," Tim said.

When he started playing organized football in the sixth grade, he played quarterback but he wanted to be at running back. That still was the case during his freshman year at St. Vincent.

"My freshman year, I really didn't have a set position," Tim said. "I wanted to play running back still, but the coaches would still tell me where to go. I played some receiver, some running back and a lot of quarterback. The spring after my freshman year is when I really started to want to be a quarterback."

Tim said Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who played at the University of Florida at the time, served as one of his main inspirations for embracing the quarterback position.

"That was the college football season with Tim Tebow's pledge [to play harder than anyone else in the nation] after the Ole Miss game," Tim said. "That's when I started really enjoying the position and wanting to learn more about it and wanting to get better at it. I knew we really didn't have a quarterback, so it would be an open position."

Tim started working with coaches and attended a quarterback camp in preparation for his sophomore season. He earned the starting spot, helped the Indians reach the Class 1 playoffs and finished the season 5-6.

The Indians started last season 1-2 before Tim's injury. Taylor Sauer ended up filling in at quarterback for most the season, but the offense struggled. Sauer, a senior like Tim, enjoys having Tim back under center.

"He opens up a lot more," Taylor Sauer said. "I can sit out there and I can run, but I don't have blazing speed. He's a little quicker than I am. He's a lot more accurate."

Coach Sauer credits Tim's experience for helping the team post a winning record so far this season.

"It's a big plus to have someone capable of throwing the football and has the leadership skills to keep the guys focused in the huddle," coach Sauer said. "That's probably saved us in a couple of wins, the fact that we've had a veteran player back there who was able to lead us back."

Tim has developed a connection with his receivers this season. Five Indians receivers -- Trent Elder, Taylor Sauer, Sean Martin, Jesse Francis and Alex Winkler -- have more than 130 yards receiving this season.

"When we played St. Pius, I was supposed to run a wheel and I saw the kid bailing and I just stopped," Taylor Sauer said. "When I turned around, the ball was there because he knew I was going to stop."

Part of that connection is because of chemistry and part is due to Tim's extended preparation. He said he's increased the amount of film he watches and usually talks with his father about what he sees on film.

"When I come home, we'll talk about practice and how we thought it went," Tim said. "Then we'll eat and then he'll watch film and I'll be downstairs doing homework. He'll yell at me to come up and look at something. I'll look at it and we'll talk about it for 20 minutes, then I'll go back downstairs. And right when I get to my books, I'll get called back up. It's constant, but I enjoy it."

One thing Tim said he's learned from watching film is why he's throwing interceptions. His 12 picks are second most in the area, only behind the 14 by Portageville's Bryce Wallace.

"I get my mind set on this play has to be run like that," Tim said. "Then when I get into the game, I'm looking at this guy, I tend to look at my receiver and the defense is like, 'Hey, it's coming out there.' One of our coaches in the box says I'm great if I just trust the play and take my reads. That's what I've been working on."

Tim rolls his eyes and lets out a little laugh when the topic of interceptions comes up.

"I hate throwing interceptions and I throw too many of them and it sucks," he said. "I try my best to let it go."

The number of interceptions is something his father and coach Sauer have addressed.

"The big key to our success in the passing game [is] I'd like to see is less interceptions, to know when to throw the ball away or when to take the sack or throw it over someone's head out of bounds, where you don't throw the interceptions," coach Sauer said. "I think we have a pretty good stable of receivers, and I think Tim has confidence in all of them that they can catch the ball. He can spread it around. I think that's going to be a big key, spreading it around, and throwing it to the open receiver."

Tim, who is listed generously at 5 foot 10, said he'd like to continue playing after this season, but he hasn't garnered much interest from colleges. And with the season starting to wind down, the possible end of his playing career has weighed on his mind. A win tonight against Chaffee would go a long ways toward extending his senior season.

"After the Crystal City game is when I realized it's come down to this, and I've probably thought about it every day since," he said. "I'm not ready for it to be over. Not at all."

But he's not letting the anxiety about the end affect his preparation for the three district games.

"Just go out and play," he said. "Leave it all out there. Don't leave anything out on the field or you'll regret it the rest of your life."