Football Player of Year, Rasaan Stewart of Perk by Kevin Hoffman, The Mercury
Football Player of Year, Rasaan Stewart of Perk Valley. photo by Kevin Hoffman, The Mercury

Trying to get any players, coaches or other observers of Perkiomen Valley's football team to come up with their favorite Rasaan Stewart highlight is about as tough as trying to bring down the Vikings star senior quarterback in the open field.

You see, over his three-year varsity career, the number of SportsCenter-like moments the 6-foot-1, 176-pound Stewart has generated is rivaled only by the amount of defenders lying in his wake.

For Perkiomen Valley coach Scott Reed, an 80-yard touchdown run late in the first half of last year's season-ending 42-35 victory over Saucon Valley comes to mind.

"There were like six seconds on the clock and we just had a touchback,' Reed recalled. "I was like, ' Let's just get to the half,' and I called a quarterback draw. And son of a gun, he takes it 80 yards for a touchdown. It was one of the most unbelievable plays I've ever been a part of. He turns the corner, gets a block, and boom, he's gone.'

Stewart's personal favorite also came last year in a game against Pioneer Athletic Conference foe Phoenixville, when he broke into the secondary on a run and hurdled a would-be Phantoms tackler.

Senior wideout/linebacker Dakota Clanagan didn't have to look past last week's 60-20 District 1-AAAA quarterfinal victory over Central Bucks West, when Stewart took a low-bouncing kickoff 84 yards to the house — replete with his standard cat-like cuts and jet-like open field burst — to all but break the backs of the Bucks.


"I mean, it was a big moment for us,' Clanagan said. "They had just scored, and we had to get the momentum back. It was pretty impressive.'

As are a litany of other prime-time plays by a guy who will go down as one of the top playmakers in PAC-10 history.

There are Stewart's rampant runs — such as the quarterback draw he turned into a 58-yard TD run in a 44-7 Week 2 win over Methacton; the 47-yard TD run in Week 3 against Spring-Ford; and the 73-yard jaunt in last week's win.

There are a plethora of potent and precise touchdown passes: a 62-yarder to Domine in Week 5 against Pottstown, a 40-yarder to Taiyir Wilson in Week 6 against Phoenixville, a 54-yarder to Domine in Week 7 against Pope John Paul II, a 73-yarder to Clanagan in Week 8 against Boyertown, a 55-yarder to Wilson in Week 10 against Upper Perkiomen, and strikes of 64 and 67 yards last week, respectively, to Clanagan and Domine.

There are special moments on special teams, highlighted by a 90-yard punt return touchdown against PJP and the aforementioned kickoff return against C.B. West.

And there are also dominating efforts on defense, perhaps none better than Stewart's 21-tackle barrage in a season-opening 33-0 victory over Plymouth-Whitemarsh.

"He's just a great athlete,' Clanagan said of Stewart. "He wants to be the best, and he knows how to get the job done.'

* * *

Reed handed Stewart the Vikings quarterback reins prior to the 2011 season, sensing he had a diamond in the rough.

Stewart made sure that was a decision that Reed would never regret — or forget.

"I've been given an opportunity to play at the highest level at a young age, and wanted to make sure I took advantage of that opportunity,' Stewart said. "They believed in me, and I didn't want to put that to waste. They saw something in me when no one else did.'

Folks around the league started seeing something special in Stewart during his breakout junior campaign, when he threw for 1,636 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for 1,210 yards and 21 TDs while also racking up a team-best 97 tackles from his safety spot.

"I think the biggest metamorphosis came between 10th and 11th grades,' Reed said. "He really took a major interest in the weight room and started making some gains. He was able to become a more physical defender and runner rather than just a fast runner.'

Stewart — known as "Rock' to his teammates and coaches — also underwent an extreme evolution as a passer.

"He's improved as a quarterback with his accuracy and timing,' Domine said.

"It's a credit to him,' Reed said. "He's gotten a lot better as a passer, as well as his mental process in the passing game. He put a lot of hard work into being a better thrower as far as his accuracy and release.'

More impressive to Reed is Stewart's relentless drive — both on and off the field — to excel.

"Rasaan is literally one of the most intense people I've ever been associated with,' Reed said. "He just doesn't have any other gear except hard. That's how he's wired: to compete. He thrives off competition. He always wants to challenge himself. I know in basketball, his whole big thing was that he wanted to guard the other team's best player.

"I always tell people he deserves everything he gets. I don't know that he missed any days in the offseason. He was at lifting every day, and at every 7-on-7 doing everything he could. The only time he missed anything was when he was away for a week at a leadership conference. He put in so much mental and physical preparation, and to me that says a lot about him. You go off his junior year and it's easy to think, ' I was the Player of the Year,' but he's stayed hungry. As talented a he is, he works that much harder. And most of his goals are team goals, like ' What can I do to make our team better?''

Stewart hit the ground running — literally and figuratively — in the season-opening beatdown of P-W and hasn't let up for a single week. He's led the Vikings (10-2) to a double-digit win season for the first time since 1998 and helped PV bring home its first two District 1-AAAA playoff wins in program history.

Entering Friday's district semifinal against North Penn (9-3), Stewart has completed 58.3 percent of his passes (129-for-221) for area-bests of 1,944 yards and 26 touchdowns against six interceptions. He's also rushed for 1,021 yards and 13 TDs.

With 4,314 career passing yards and 2,771 career rushing yards, Stewart is the lone member of the 4,000/2,000 club in area history.

While those gaudy numbers are hard to ignore, it would be remiss to underestimate Stewart's impact on the other side of the ball.

"He's as much a quarterback on defense as he is on offense,' Reed said.

* * *

Though Perkiomen Valley was dealt a couple of disappointing defeats to Spring-Ford (14-7) and Pottsgrove (23-12) to derail its hopes of a PAC-10 title, Stewart made sure those two games would not define his final season.

"Our first goal was the PAC-10 championship, and that didn't happen,' Stewart said. "You can't just dwell on that, and I tried to motivate my teammates and let them know there was more to come.'

Was there ever.

First, Stewart threw for a then-season-high 257 yards and three touchdowns to lead the No. 15 seed Vikings to a 26-6 victory over No. 2 seed Bayard Rustin in their district tournament opener.

Then last week, he delivered a tour de force that will likely go down as his finest moment — throwing for a career-high 268 yards and four touchdowns, running for 96 yards and two more scores and tacking on the punt return as PV rang up 54 first-half points in the quarterfinal win over C.B. West.

"What he did last game was enough for three games,' Reed joked. "It was ridiculous. I've never seen a more dominating performance on a bigger stage. He was just outstanding.'

* * *

Stewart, who carries a 3.2 grade-point average, is being recruited by several Division I schools, including Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers, Temple and Villanova — mostly as a defensive back.

"Right now I'm just trying to focus on our season,' he said. "Once we finish this up, I'll start focusing on it (deciding on a college) more from there.'

For the moment, all Stewart is concerned about is the next game of what has quickly become a dream season.

"I'm really happy and grateful we're in the position we're at right now,' he said. "The last two weeks have been the best time I've ever had playing varsity. My teammates and coaches worked all summer for this. I give all the credit to them.

"I definitely knew with us having a lot of seniors coming back and the chemistry and stuff, we had a chance to do a lot of things. I'm not surprised we're in this position right now. We all worked hard to get there.'

None harder than Stewart, the signature rock in a strong Vikings foundation.

Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.