As the son of a former Nicholls State University linebacker, most thought Colby Stewart would grow up and play on the defensive side of the football.
But at an early age, Stewart said he developed a mind of his own – a time that saw him create a life-long dream of being a halfback or wide receiver.
Now many years later, fate decided that neither position would be in the plans for the now-fully-grown Terrebonne High School senior. Who would have ever predicted that Stewart would be a high school quarterback?
In his second season staring under center for the Tigers, Stewart has matured and has established himself as one of the Tri-parish area’s top signal callers.
With athleticism, strength and an aggressive mentality, Stewart laughs and said that he takes pride in attacking the position like a linebacker or a bruising halfback – characteristics that power Terrebonne’s offense, but also give head coach Gary Hill fits at various moments throughout the season.
“I’m not scared of anyone on the football field,” Stewart said. “If I have a chance to get an extra yard or two, I’m lowering my shoulder, putting my helmet into somebody and trying to fight forward as hard as I can. That’s the way that I play. That’s the only way that I feel I can have a big impact on a football field – by giving 100 percent maximum effort.”
“He’s not going down without a fight – and that frustrates us as coaches at times because we don’t want him to take unnecessary hits and get hurt out there,” Hill said with a laugh. “But he’s a great kid and a great athlete – one of the best kids we’ve had here in my tenure at Terrebonne. He’s playing the position out of necessity and what’s best for our team. And he’s done it without complaining. He’s remained coachable and he’s really become a good, solid quarterback.”
Football is in Stewart’s blood.
Colby’s father Darryl Stewart was a standout prep football player who later served as a linebacker at Nicholls.
Because of those rich football roots, Colby said his father signed him up for the sport at an early age – but not against similar competition. The younger Stewart said he would always be enrolled in an age group above his actual age so that he could get used to playing bigger, faster and stronger foes.
“He always played me with older teams,” Stewart said. “If I was supposed to be in Pee Wee, then I played in the JV league or whatever was the next level up. He always thought that doing it like that would make me a better football player when it came time.
“I guess it all paid off in the end now that I look back at it.”
From those early days of competition, Stewart enrolled at Terrebonne as a sophomore and was a guy that Hill had a hard time keeping off the field.
The Tigers had quarterback Kendrick Boudreaux during that 2011 season, so Stewart’s services weren’t needed under center.
But because of his playmaking abilities, he was utilized as a slot back. In that season, Stewart rushed for 224 yards on 41 carries with a touchdown, while also catching eight passes for 83 yards with a score.
With Boudreaux’s graduation and the Tigers lacking depth under center, Hill called on Stewart to be the team’s quarterback in the 2012 season.
Not wanting to let his team down, Stewart took over the offense and had a bit of an up-and-down year.
Stewart rushed for 891 yards and 14 touchdowns – including eight scores in the Tigers’ final five games of the season.
But he was not as successful as a passer, completing just 38-of-86 attempts for 509 yards and five scores with four interceptions.
“It’s not that I couldn’t throw – I just didn’t trust that I could throw,” Stewart said. “I would stand back there and say to myself, ‘OK, I don’t want to put us in a bad position, so I’m not going to do something that I don’t think I can do.’ I played it safe a lot and I think at times that hurt us because we were a team that I think was kind of easy to predict if I wasn’t throwing the football well.”
But with a full summer to grow his confidence, Stewart returned in 2013 and has blossomed in his second year at the position.
Through the first four games of the season, Stewart completed 18-of-34 passes for 337 yards and two touchdowns – marked increases in completion percentage, yards per game and yards per attempt.
He also has remained a threat with his legs, piling up 480 yards on 62 carries with seven touchdowns.
“He’s more confident back there,” senior offensive lineman Zach Chapman said. “You can see it. He trusts his arm and really believes in what he’s doing back there.”
“I think he believes in us more, too,” lineman Alex Bonvillain added, referencing the fact that the Tigers return almost their entire offensive line from 2012. “I think he knows that when we’re throwing the football, he’s going to have time and he’s not going to be pressured unless if something breaks down. Last year, I don’t think we did a good enough job keeping him clean.”
With the experienced quarterback and experienced line, Terrebonne has found success.
The Tigers started the year 3-1, piling points onto Redemptorist, South Terrebonne and Ellender in the opening weeks of the season – all victories. In Week 4, Terrebonne took its lumps and fell 42-17 to Destrehan – one of the top teams in Class 5A.
But Hill said he believes the Tigers have the ability to rebound from the loss and have a solid, playoff-bound season.
Stewart agrees with his coach and thinks that this year’s Terrebonne team has a chance to make noise in the back-half of the season.
Not bad for a team led by a quarterback with linebacker’s genes and a running back’s mind. Not bad at all.
“I don’t want to be a quarterback – I don’t,” Stewart said. “I’ve always wanted to have a chance to be a full-time running back-slash-receiver type of player. My whole life I’ve been told, ‘Colby, you’re not big enough to be a running back.’ I’ve always just wanted to prove people wrong. But I’m needed at this position and I’m happy to do whatever I need to do to help my team win.
“This is my last year and we don’t want to take anything for granted. We want to play as hard as we can in every game. If quarterback is where I can best help us win then so be it.”
Terrebonne High School quarterback Colby Stewart poses with the football at Terrebonne High School’s stadium on Monday morning. Stewart is having a big season for Terrebonne on the ground, leading the team in rushing touchdowns this season. But he also has made marked improvements with his arm – progression that has allowed the team to roll to a solid start to the 2013 prep football season.