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Etienne Does Not Break a Sweat Under the Spotlight

Jean-Marc Etienne breaks out as Stevenson football's next big thing, leading the team in rushing

Lawrence Kreymer, Sports Editor

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On their own 46 yard line, Stevenson is driving down the field in the third quarter. Already without starting quarterback Grayson Kubow ’18, Stevenson needs a spark to get their offense going. On the very next play, running back Jean-Marc Etienne ’20 finds an open hole in the Palatine defense and makes the defense pay with a 54 yard touchdown giving the Patriots a 7-0 lead. That was only the start to Etienne’s varsity career.

After a few key players graduated last year the Patriots needed to find a way to replace them on both sides of the ball. One of those positions was running back and going into the summer Stevenson didn’t know who the starting running back would be. However, after an impressive summer the coaching staff named Etienne as the starter.

Etienne, only a sophomore, made his debut against Palatine earlier this season and put on a show, accumulating 147 yards and two touchdowns.

“My first touchdown is a play I’ll never forget, it’s my most impressive play so far,” Etienne said. “I felt like it was a turning point in the game against Palatine, but also helped to kick start our season.”

Not only did this exceptional debut surprise many people, considering it’s rare to see a sophomore making varsity football, but the fact that Etienne had this type of success against a ranked opponent was even more impressive However, Etienne’s performances have only improved this season, he hasn’t been a one-game wonder and then fades away for the rest of the season.

“Making the varsity team meant a lot to me because I was appreciative of the fact that the coaching staff had believed in my ability,” Etienne said. “I’m aware of the fact that a sophomore on varsity is [extremely] rare and I couldn’t let this opportunity slip away.”

Etienne’s performances this year hasn’t only solidified his spot on the team, but has made him the focal point of the offense. The offense runs through him because of the confidence the coaches have in him.

“He [Etienne] is extremely vital to our offense,” Coach Josh Hjorth said. “He can score on almost every play and his running ability helps free up the pass for us.

Many people will point to the stats and only look at that as evidence to describe Etienne’s impressive start. However, Etienne doesn’t care about his stats. For him, the stats don’t tell the full story of his emergence as an elite running back. The way opponents scout and prepare for Stevenson is totally different now because of the matchup nightmare Etienne presents.

“I don’t care too much about my stats; I’m just happy that I am able to contribute to our team winning,” Etienne said. “Many people thought Palatine would have an easy time against us and I was happy that we showed the state that we are legit.”

Etienne’s love for football began at an early age, as he and his older brother grew up watching football every weekend. With the way Etienne runs the ball every play, his passion for the game can be seen that way.

“I’ve been in love with football for as long as I can remember,” Etienne said. “My older brother and I were always playing football, watching football or playing Madden when we were younger.”

Being only a sophomore Etienne has already impressed his coaches. That’s evident with being awarded the starting role, but also if he needs any advice he isn’t afraid to contact former players.

“His dedication to the team is impressive,” Hjorth said. “How he has handled all of this from an early age proves why he is our number one running back. If I had to use one word to describe him, it would be fierce. He runs aggressive, not giving up on any play trying to get every single yard he can.”

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Etienne Does Not Break a Sweat Under the Spotlight