STORY WRITTEN BY ED MORLOCK, THE TIMES HERALD - AUG. 17, 2023
Germantown Academy has had a stretch of strong quarterback play over the last decade.
Kyle McCloskey (Class of 2017) and Jordan Longino (2021) are at the top of most passing categories in the Germantown Academy record books. Tristan Machado (2023) followed with two Inter-Ac All-League selections.
Now it’s Xavier Stearn’s turn. The 6-foot-5 190-pound sophomore from Fort Washington is the starting quarterback heading into the 2023 season.
“They definitely set the path for me,” Stearn said of his predecessors. “I’m really excited to be one of those guys.”
“We’ve had some pretty good sophomore starters,” GA coach Matthew Dence said. “I think Xavier should be the best out of all of them as a sophomore. When you talk about Jordan, you talk about Kyle – those are two of the greatest quarterbacks in GA history, if not the two best. They were fantastic. Tristan was great too, he just only started two years because he had to backup Jordan.
“(Stearn’s) got some pretty big shoes to fill and he will. He definitely has all the talent to do it. I’m excited that he’s only a sophomore. To have three years to develop this kid – we’re really excited.”
Stearn will continue to work closely with offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Kyle Donahue. The two have worked together since Stearn was in seventh grade.
“Xavier came in here in eighth grade,” Dence said. “He was on our middle school team and was the leader of that middle school team. Last year as a freshman he was a kid who we had to put in for a couple plays in the Penn Charter game when Tristan went down and when I put Xavier in I wasn’t nervous. Years past, if I had to put a young quarterback in – freshman, sophomore, junior who wasn’t the starter – I was nervous. I wasn’t nervous about Xavier. I have the utmost confidence in Xavier. Between him and Kyle Donahue, they are in sync. Xavier, to this point, has complete command of the offense and what we’re trying to do. He knows where everyone should be, he knows where everyone should go.”
Stearn will be in charge of running the Patriots spread, movement offense. They installed a lot of run-pass option stuff during Longino’s tenure and those concepts evolved even more under Machado. Stearn will continue running that system and take what the defense gives him while mixing in calculated shots down the field.
Stearn also gets as many reps as he can outside of Germantown Academy during the offseason.
“He’s a kid who’s got all the tools,” Dence said. “He’s done a ton of work. He loves football. He’s a really good baseball player too, but he loves football. He loves to learn about the quarterback position. He goes to every quarterback camp he can go to, he goes to all the Passing League stuff he can go to, just to learn the craft.”
“(Those camps have) definitely helped a lot,” Stearn, who improved his footwork this offseason, said. “Just to get a bunch of different opinions on quarterback stuff.”
Stearn, whose leadership is growing every day, will make his first start in the season opener against Simon Gratz on Friday, Sept. 1.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
AJ TOWSEN >> Towsen is a 6-foot-2 205-pound junior wide receiver and defensive back. He is a dynamic pass-catcher and has as good of hands as anyone Dence can remember.
“He catches everything,” Dence said. “And he’s a big-game ball-catcher. Some of those catches he had against Penn Charter – he caught a touchdown against Penn Charter that was behind him with one hand behind his head. He lives for that big-play moment.”
“When I throw the ball up I know he’s going to come down with it,” Stearn said. “I trust him a lot and I’ve been working with him for a long time.”
Towsen earned Inter-Ac second team All-League honors and was named a varsity basketball captain as a sophomore.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
SEAMUS KNOX >> Knox is a 6-foot-1 190-pound senior middle linebacker who can also lineup on the edge and rush the quarterback. He’s an athletic sure-tackler and hard-hitter who is effective defending the run and the pass. He is also a bruising running back on offense. He was an Inter-Ac second team All-League selection as a junior.