BROOMFIELD — Like father, like son, Steven Croell is etching his name into Broomfield athletics history with his lefty slinger and his father's legendary even-keel demeanor.
The senior quarterback certainly is aware of what his last name conjures up in the Broomfield community. You won't go far around town without hearing about his father, Mike Croell, who has gone 455-69 with six state titles as the head coach of the girls' basketball program and will return to the helms this winter after a two-year hiatus.
Steven — tied to his dad's folklore status -— said he knows he has "big shoes to fill."
"He's such a figure in the community, it's just knowing that I have to represent him and my family," the senior said. "Just trying to live up to his standards."
So far, so good.
Croell, the talented three-sport athlete, returns to the gridiron for his third year starting behind center. In his first two years, he's thrown over 3,000 yards with north of 30 touchdowns. Last year his stats slightly dipped from his 22-touchdown sophomore campaign, a campaign that saw the Eagles reach the 4A state championship game, but his resolve was unmatched as he helped Broomfield roar back from a 2-4 start to win six in a row. The Eagles finally bowed out in the Class 4A state semifinals to eventual-champion Pueblo South.
Broomfield coach Blair Hubbard said when the team had its back against the wall the senior's calm demeanor prevailed.
"Just being a coach's son, the big thing you see with Steven is he's not going to get too high, he's not going to get too low," Hubbard said. "That's a big part of our program. We don't want to get too high or get too low, we want to live life in the middle and know that adversity is going to come and high points are going to come. If we just live in that middle point right there, and he does a great job of doing that. Just staying under control and being ready for the next play."
Croell put in the work over the offseason to ready himself for his final season with Broomfield. The senior took part in 7-on-7s over the summer to get down some timing with his receivers. He also worked with Jenkins Elite, a development program for football players, to work on his footwork and reads.
"Them working with me a little bit, the first couple of weeks there was a dramatic change," noted Croell, who said he has an offer from CSU-Pueblo. "Just being more compact, not getting too outside the box, really made my throwing more efficient, more spot-on. Just realizing you don't have to have huge arm strength — if you get the little things down, it'll help you out a lot."
With Croell leading the charge, Broomfield will begin the year on Aug. 24 with a matchup against city-rival Legacy, which has taken home the annual Mayor's Cup the past five years.
The senior said he hopes the hot end to last season will carry over in 2018. And like his father, he's prepared to lead the way.
"It's more than just being a quarterback," Croell said of his role this year. "It's being a vocal leader and leading by example because we lost a lot of kids last year that had big roles. But we're filling in young guys and just teaching them up and showing them the way."
Brent W. New: firstname.lastname@example.org