By mark rogers
November 15, 2011

The Abilene High Eagles are in a familiar place: favored to win in the second round of the playoffs and expected to make another deep run towards an 8th state championship.

But rewind to just before the first game, and I'd have to say that if you would have told me then what we're expecting now, I would have been a little surprised.

The Sims brothers were gone, most of the guys from the 2009 state title team were gone, the defense had some question marks, and there was certainly a big question mark at the QB position.

AHS certainly knew what it had at running back: a super fast, dynamic runner who would have started for any school in the state a year ago - Paxton Grayer. But the question was whether or not a running game combined with a "so-so" passing game could take the Eagles back to the promised land.

Evin Abbe ended up getting the nod at QB and over the course of 11 weeks, completely erased any sense of the passing attack being "so-so".  His development coupled with an incredibly efficient and potent running game has made the Abilene Eagles a dark horse favorite to win another title...only this time, they're completely off the radar, which is right where they want to be.

Abbe took the reins with the confidence of a seasoned veteran and transformed every week right before our eyes. He aged about 18 months in about six weeks.

The Eagles lost three of their first five games and in two of those games Abbe's completion percentage was in the 50s. Two more games in the first five Abbe threw for less than 200 yards.

But every week he was learning, gaining experience, and turning into a great quarterback.

Steve Warren told me a few weeks ago that Abbe just might be the toughest QB he's ever coached. Abbe doesn't duck and run at the first sign of trouble. He doesn't care about getting hit. He goes through his progressions, takes all the time he has, delivers strikes, and on most occasions, gets hit right in the mouth.

But he always gets right back up to do it all over again.

That's a helpless feeling as an offensive lineman - to see you're QB picking himself up off the deck after more than a few plays.

But Abbe knows he's going to get hit, he just needs a little time. I don't care if you're Larry Allen, if you let a defensive lineman have an unlimited amount of time, he's going to get by you. Abbe knows that. But he doesn't care.

After that 2-3 start in which Abbe got better and better every week, they hit the district schedule.

His "worst" game was against OHS in game 1 of district. It was the only district game he failed to hit 70% of his passes (68%) or throw for more than 200. They blew out the Bronchos and Abbe wasn't called on to have a huge game. He threw 3 TDs and no picks.

After that game, Abbe's completion percentage the last four games was 71, 77, 72, and 70. Incredible. And it's not like the Eagles weren't throwing. In those four games, Abbe averaged 28 attempts per game.

He went over 300 yards against Lee, Midland High and Cooper (227 against Permian in a blowout) throwing 10 TDs against just 2 picks. He threw five interceptions all year.

This all from a guy who wasn't even sure he was going to be the QB right before the season...and a junior to boot.

Now we get to watch Abbe perform in the playoffs.

And Eagle fans can only hope his growth as a QB continues on the rapid pace it's been on for the last several weeks.

If that happens and the Eagles stay healthy, look for AHS to surprise a handful of teams and quite possibly contend for Steve Warren's second state championship and 8th in school history.

Now that Abbe has turned into what he is, the Eagles have the tools to make it happen.

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