By Mike Moguin
GTR Sports Writer
Stephen Kittleman brings in a wealth of experience at quarterback.
Listed among the Top 100 players in the state, VYPE Oklahoma describes him as “…a player who has all the intangibles needed to lead the program to get back on the top.”
Kittleman (5-10, 177, senior), who enters his second season as quarterback, said that he’s never been one to boast about himself, but acknowledges being a good leader.
“I always want to strive to be the best person I could be to serve my teammates and always bring that same energy and the same attitude every day,” Kittleman said. “But definitely my leadership is one of those (intangibles). I’d also say my ability is to make plays outside the pocket. Just being that guy for my teammates and making them better.”
In 2019, Kittleman threw for 25 touchdowns and 2,705 yards while completing 170 passes on 256 attempts en route to leading the Trojans to the Class 6AI final. Unfortunately, Jenks lost 14-6 against Owasso in that game.
“That was definitely a low-point for our whole team,” Kittleman said. “To make it to that final game and come up short was a heartbreaker. No doubt we keep that in the back of our heads almost every day. It makes us work harder. It’s definitely a good motivator for us as players. It was heartbreaking to lose that game.”
Kittleman endured a few sacks against the Rams. He said that getting sacked is not as bad as what it may seem.
“My o-line does a great job,” he said. “They might have had a few busts that night and it may have been my fault. I need to get the ball out quicker. But as long as you put yourself in a good position to not get hit too hard, it’s not that bad. I can take a few hits every now and then.”
Like other programs across the country, the Trojans are also having to deal with adjustments with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has definitely been different with all the rules and guidelines we have to follow,” KIttleman said. “We’re just taking every day like it’s our last. You never know what can change on a day-to-day basis, but we’re having fun with each other and we’re working hard.”
The players have to wear masks inside and outside if not on the field, said Kittleman, who has played football since kindergarten and always played quarterback. He has also played defense in the past and is point guard in basketball.
Kittleman has hopes to play tfootball in college. He has received offers but it is undecided.
He is a firm believer that football is the best game in the world.
“There are so many things that become of it. I’ve seen it change people’s lives,” Kittleman said. “You have the family and that brotherhood with guys you never thought you would have and all the hard work you guys have to put in together, for every guy on the field, to have a job and do it successfully for your team to be good, I think that is so special. Being a quarterback, it’s my passion to be able to lead others and be able to serve people and play for the community. That’s what’s so special about Jenks.”
Favorite role model quarterback of Kittleman’s is Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.
“He’s kind of a small guy like me,” he said. “He’s got great arm speed. He can read a defense so well. Off the field, his character is so good. He’s a guy that I definitely strive to be like.”
He is also a fan of the Saints and an Oklahoma State fan.
As for the 2020 season, “I have high expectations for this group of guys,” Kittleman said. “It is the biggest quality of guys I’ve seen in awhile. We have a lot of guys in my senior class coming back with great leadership who are super good at what they do and I think once we put it all together, we’ll be super good.”
Kittleman said the powerhouses, Union, Broken Arrow, Bixby and Owasso, will be the toughest foes as well as Edmond Santa Fe.
Although Owasso is not on Jenks’ schedule, the Trojans are hoping and believing they will see the Rams in the postseason.
“I know if we play our brand of football and be the toughest team and the most disciplined, we’ll be just fine,” Kittleman said.
Jenks opened the season in zero week (Aug. 28) at home against Mansfield (Texas) Summit. In September they travel to meet Bixby (Sept. 4), and host Union (Sept. 11) in the Backyard Bowl. After a week off, a road trip to Enid (Sept. 25) lingers for the District 6AI-1 opener. Broken Arrow (Oct. 2) comes to Allen Trimble Stadium early next month.