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Lee Takes Over at Quarterback for Churchill Football Team

Bulldogs improve to 2-0 with victory against Whitman.

Jonathan Lee is in his first season as the Churchill football program’s starting varsity quarterback.

Jonathan Lee is in his first season as the Churchill football program’s starting varsity quarterback. Photo by Harvey Levine

— The Churchill football team has gotten off to a great start this season, with two commanding wins over Kennedy, 34-0, and division rival Whitman, 33-9. Though the wins have largely been a team effort, senior quarterback Jonathan Lee, who replaced the now-graduated Lansana Kieta, made his presence especially felt in the first two games of 2012.

According to Lee, who was the backup QB last season as junior, there are both advantages and disadvantages to being a starter.

“It feels great to be the starting quarterback, but there's also the added pressure of having to run the offense efficiently and lead the team to a victory,” Lee said. “Now that I am starting I have to be more attentive during film sessions and more serious during practices.”

Lee seems to have handled the pressure well so far, and has proven to be a threat in both the running and passing games. The quarterback rushed for 117 yards on 10 attempts in Churchill’s Aug. 31 season opener against Kennedy, scoring two touchdowns and leading all Bulldogs in total rushing yards.

“We definitely have a chance to make it [further] in the playoffs this season because on offense we have much more talent than we did last year. Our defense, which was one of the top defenses last year, is just as good, if not better, than last year’s.”

— Churchill quarterback Jonathan Lee

“We run a triple option offense, so it allows the quarterback to be able to get a chance to run the ball,” Lee said. “Because of the way Kennedy played their defense, I was able to run the ball for a lot of yards.”

Lee’s success continued into the Bulldogs’ Sept. 7 game against Whitman, this time through the passing game. He threw for 145 yards and two touchdowns, one to junior running back Malik Harris and the other to senior wide receiver Dominique Williams. Lee also ran for one touchdown.

“I depend on Dominique most during the games because he's experienced, having been on varsity for three years, and he's one of the biggest playmakers we have on the team,” Lee said.

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Blake Dove carries the ball for the Churchill football team against Whitman on Sept. 7.

Though a strong quarterback is key in football, it is not the only thing that leads to success. According to senior wide receiver and defensive back Joe Nolan, who picked off a Whitman pass for Churchill’s first score of the game, team chemistry has played a major role in their early season accomplishments.

“Last year we were more a collection of individuals than a team,” Nolan said. “We had a lot of talent and size on the line, but I think what held us back was individuals playing for themselves, not the team. This year we are smaller, but that has only made us meld together as a team more, and because of this we are much more intense and focused.”

Though last year the Bulldogs lost in the regional finals after a close game with rival Quince Orchard, Nolan thinks that this year’s team can go much further.

“Though our offense has started off a little slow, when it all comes together and becomes second nature to us, the combination of our offense and impenetrable defense will be unstoppable,” Nolan said.

Lee believes playoff success will be because of improvements on offense and continued excellence on defense.

“We definitely have a chance to make it farther in the playoffs this season because on offense we have much more talent than we did last year,” Lee said. “Our defense, which was one of the top defenses last year, is just as good, if not better, than last year’s.”

This mentality is also present outside the Bulldogs’ locker room. Opposing teams and coaches, including Whitman coach Jim Kuhn, have noticed the Churchill squad as one to watch out for this season.

“They’re a very young, talented team,” Kuhn said. “They had a great season last year, and it looks like they’re trying to continue that this year.”