Chance Lovertich’s off the bench performance in his Division I debut for South Alabama Thursday night didn’t surprise Jackson Prep coach Ricky Black. He had seen Lovertich deliver time and time again as the quarterback for his Patriots.
Lovertich replaced starting quarterback Desmond Trotter and threw a 52-yard touchdown pass with 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter to help South Alabama defeat Southern Miss 32-21 at Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg.
“Chance is the ultimate competitor,” Black said. “He’s intense and has a great spirit about him. He’s a great student of the game. It doesn’t take long for Chance to figure it out. I’m sure he picked up on the new offense quickly. He’s got a feel for the game.”
Lovertich had an amazing 59-1 record as a starting quarterback at Prep and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College before signing with South Alabama. He worked his way up to the second team in the depth chart behind Trotter, the grandson of former Alabama All-American and NFL star Ozzie Newsome. He led Prep to three straight state titles and Gulf Coast to a national title last year.
Lovertich, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior, is combination of Peyton Manning’s attention to detail, Brett Favre’s enthusiasm and grit and Drew Brees’ competitive fire for winning.
So when Lovertich got his number called last night, Black wasn’t surprised at result. Lovertich replaced Trotter with 19 seconds before halftime and completed first pass before the half ran out. Then, he connected on his first TD pass as a Division I quarterback a few plays after Trotter went out with a tweaked hamstring. Trotter returned on the next series and finished the game.
When Lovertich was a junior at Prep he threw 25 TD passes with no interceptions. Not one interception in 169 attempts. He completed 110 of those passes, 65.1 percent, for 1,926 yards and led Prep to a 13-1 record and a state championship. In fact, dating back to the end of his sophomore season, Lovertich didn’t throw an interception for 18 consecutive games. He threw 32 TD passes with only three interceptions as a senior and won his third straight title.
“Chance is the most accurate passer I’ve ever coached. And I’ve coached a lot of good quarterbacks over the years,” Black said, who is the second winningest high school coach in Mississippi history and has been coaching for 45 years. “Chance is fearless and plays with a lot of confidence. He wants to be successful on every snap, every series and every game. His winning attitude is contagious to his teammates. He gives the other players a lift.”
“Chance is a quiet kid, but he’s a fiery competitor,” Gulf Gulf Coast coach Jack Wright said. “He’s locked in all the time, whether it be in the weight room, in meetings, on the sidelines or in the game. It’s all about working and getting better and winning. He listens to every word you say. He is all in at the task at hand. Chance is extremely accurate and has a quick release. All the great quarterbacks have a quick release. Chance knows how to move the chains and put it in the end zone.”
Wright has coached high school football at Grenada, North Delta Academy and Meridian, junior college at Northwest Mississippi CC and Holmes CC and senior college at Millsaps. He knows a good quarterback when he sees one. There’s one he coached in 2015 people may have heard of. Gardner Minshew, the Brandon High alumnus and starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, played for Wright and led Northwest CC to a national title.
“Chance has similar qualities of Gardner,” Wright said. “He has Gardner’s same ability to complete a high percentage of passes, the same attention to fundamentals and the same contagious attitude to make his teammates around him better.”
Lovertich comes from a family of star athletes. His dad, Trey, was the Mississippi Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year at Forest Hill. His grandfather, Doug Hutton, is a former All-American basketball player at Mississippi State and is in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. Hutton still holds the record for most points in a game in the Mississippi public high school state tournament, set in 1960. Lovertich’s older brother, Trace, was a star linebacker at Prep.
Lovertich was one of seven players from Metro Jackson high schools who started in the game, four from Southern Miss and three from South Alabama.
Senior linebacker Swayze Bozeman (Tri-County Academy), senior running back Don Ragsdale (Pisgah), senior tight end Grayson Gunter (Madison Central) and senior offensive right tackle Arvin Fletcher (Germantown) started for Southern Miss. Lovertich, junior tight end Trent Tyre (Jackson Academy) and junior defensive end Jamie Sheriff (Terry) started for South Alabama.
Bozeman had 10 tackles, second best on the team, Ragsdale scored a touchdown and Grayson caught three passes for 37 yards. Tyre caught one pass for six yards and Sheriff had four tackles.