100 Years of Football: The Legacy of Jake Schiff

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)Even two decades after he last stepped on a football field, Jake Schiff is still in a league of his own. The Mater Dei quarterback had a prolific  career from 1998 to 2001, setting records that haven’t been broken to this day.

“I’ve never met a more cerebral player in my life. He did everything that any coach could want. He’s so intelligent. I’ve had some very intelligent quarterbacks.”

“Jake’s IQ level is just off the charts, and it’s why he’s so successful now as a husband, father and just a worker. Because his attention to detail is something that you never forget.”

In three seasons as the starter, Schiff threw for 12,195 yards. That mark ranks No. 1 in Indiana, outpacing the second place record holder by over 1000 yards.  He also ranks first in single season passing, throwing for 4,468 yards in his senior year in 2001. 

“Football is the ultimate team game. It sounds cliche, but I’m really not just pumping full of hot air. When you have offensive lineman that protect, and you have wide receivers, and you have a defense that can get the ball back to the offense, that’s how all those records happened.”

But his growth didn’t happen overnight. Mater Dei head coach Mike Goebel ran a pro style offense in the 90s, but evolved to a spread style offense under Jake’s brother, Adam. The Wildcats evolution to a spread offense was tailor-made for Schiff. 

“Mike was ahead of the curve, Coach Goebel and his staff transitioning to that offense at the time. It was a lot about matchups, as far as what’s the defense showing pre-snap, and making sure we had the appropriate play dialed in for that.”

Schiff certainly had the talent, but he also had a strong team around him. With a rock solid offensive line and backfield, as well as talented receivers like Patrick Mallory alongside, there wasn’t much you could do to slow down Mater Dei.  Mallory himself ranks ninth in Indiana in career receiving yards 3,412. The connection between he and Schiff started long before their gridiron days. In fact, it started on the concrete in elementary school. 

“It was recess time on the blacktop. I think he learned how to throw a good ball there, and I learned how to catch it, because it wasn’t fun going down on the blacktop.”

That chemistry between Schiff and his receivers helped Mater Dei to a 41-3 record in his three years as starter. That career was highlighted by an undefeated season in 2000 that ended in a state championship.
It was a storied run. A run that, many times, prevented Schiff and his starters from playing full games to prevent from piling on teams in blowout wins.  Had Schiff played in those full games, his career totals might be even higher. But Mallory still believes his quarterback’s accolades will stand for years to come. 

“I mean you’re talking about a quarterback that’s going to have to play a minimum of three years. Nobody is going to break that record in two.”

“In today’s day and age, when everybody is spreading the football out and throwing the football around, for those numbers to still stand to this day is pretty impressive.”

Twenty years removed from his high school days, Schiff is still proud of his accomplishments on the football field. But it’s a chapter of his life that’s passed.  Now a financial advisor with a family, he knows his days as an athlete are only a small part of who he is. What’s more important, he said, is his identity off the field. 

“It’s cool to be remembered as a great football player, but sports are just sports. It’s not the be-all-end-all. I think what’s more important is how you are as a human, how you are as a person, how you treat others. I think people look at that stuff more.”

Reporting from Evansville, Blake Sandlin, Eyewitness News. 


(This story was originally published on September 28, 2021)

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