ORION — One of the terms Orion football coach Chip Filler uses to describe senior quarterback Ryan Jungwirth is "cerebral."
Indeed, Jungwirth spent the last two years as Dawson Schulenberg's understudy by soaking up as much knowledge as he could, and then gathering even more information so that when his time came to step under center, he would be ready.
Stepping into the starting signal-caller's role this season, Jungwirth's diligence and preparation has paid off handsomely. In leading the Chargers to a 2-0 start, he has completed 82 percent of his passes (23 of 28) for 295 yards and six touchdowns.
"We knew when his time came, he'd get the keys to the car, and he'd run with it," Filler said. "He was so stoked up, and he's embraced the moment. He's been a great leader for us; he does everything the right away. The first two weeks, he's been amazing. Once he had his chance, Ryan seized it."
In last Friday's 35-27 home-opening win over Kewanee, this week's Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline Area Pacesetter showed his poise in a crucial late-game situation.
After hooking up with Kobe Lieving for a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie the game with 4:18 left to play, his interception stopped a Boilermaker drive. He then took his team downfield, scoring the winner from a yard out with 17.2 seconds remaining.
"I think we were all looking to make a big play, to turn the tide in our favor. It just happened that I got the opportunity," Jungwirth said of his timely pick, which set up the Chargers at their own 46-yard line with 3:17 on the clock, and set the stage for a well-run, time-consuming final scoring march.
"On the last drive, our main goal was just going down and scoring. If we did it quick, it'd still be a good thing," he continued. "As long we kept running the ball, getting first downs and keeping the clock running, that was a bonus. When we got closer to the goal line, it became evident to run the clock down to as little time as possible.
"Kewanee definitely has enough weapons, so it wouldn't be hard from them to get a big play or two in a shorter amount of time."
The week before his 15-of-19, 187-yard, three-TD performance against the Boilermakers, the 5-foot-10, 140-pounder engineered another go-ahead, fourth-quarter scoring drive in the Chargers' season opener at Monmouth-Roseville.
Capping his 8-for-9, 108-yard, three-TD showing against the Titans with the go-ahead 24-yard touchdown pass to Coby Schultz halfway through the final period, Jungwirth and his teammates ran out the final four minutes after the Orion defense forced Mon-Rose into a three-and-out.
"The experience of that game showed us that, even if we're down toward the end, we know we have the ability to score late and take the lead," he said. "The Monmouth-Roseville game prepared us for (last) week; we had a positive mindset going in."
A member of the Orion varsity roster since his freshman year, Jungwirth has been learning through a combination of gradual on-the-job training and absorbing what he could from his older teammates until his time came."
Preparing for this Friday's Three Rivers Rock Division opener against traditional rival and fellow unbeaten Rockridge, Jungwirth has shown how well he has learned as he has the Chargers going full gear.
"Waiting these past couple of years and watching Dawson, seeing how he operated and hearing him and Coach Filler talk through the plays, helped me become a lot better at doing my job," he said. "Now, it's my turn to be the best quarterback I can be."