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Editor’s note: Over the coming days, we will honor the best and brightest individual performers from the 2021 Missouri high school football season, culminating with the unveiling of the inaugural SBLive all-state team on Monday, January 24.

By Jon Walker

It might not be too much of a stretch to say that Christian Brothers College High School quarterback Patrick Heitert was destined to be a star quarterback.

Heitert was merely a sophomore when CBC coach Scott Pingel decided to try him out at tight end. Yet halfway through his junior season, after an injury to starting quarterback Ayden Robinson-Wayne, Heitert was called upon to lead the Cadets’ offense.

He ended up starting the final five games of the season and throwing for 1,230 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 64% (76 of 118) of his attempts.

“When Ayden got hurt and Pat played quarterback full-time, we were like, ‘Yeah, this could be pretty special,’” Pingel said. “At the end of the junior year, we liked where this was going. So, we went with Pat, and he did a great job for us moving forward.” 

Pingel was exactly right, and Heitert did a phenomenal job this past season. And then some. 

In his farewell tour, the right-handed gunslinger passed for 2,974 yards and 22 touchdowns with six interceptions while completing 63% (197 of 313) his passes. 

After terrorizing opposing defenses this past fall and leading the Cadets to the program’s first Class 6 title since 2018, Heitert has been named the SBLive Missouri 2021 Offensive Player of the Year.

“It’s awesome, for sure. It’s like a fairy tale, kind of,” Heitert said of his emergence as one of Missouri’s top players. “Just dealing with the adversity I have, luckily I’ve been surrounded by great friends, and my parents help me through everything. There were some rough patches in there … I knew if I put in the work that it’d pay off, and it did.”

“Pat is one of those guys that stands in there under pressure, will take the big hit, then get up and get excited that he got drilled and completed a pass,” Pingel said. “His toughness, his grit, his tenacity — he just plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. It’s freakin’ awesome to watch.”

Not everything was sunshine and rainbows from the start, though. 

CBC took the short road trip to play East St. Louis, one of the premier programs in all of Illinois, for a Week 1 showdown. Despite Heitert torching the Flyers’ defense for 396 yards and two touchdowns, the Cadets came up short and were handed a 48-44 loss.

“We showed that we could play with some of the best teams in the area by hanging with East St. Louis,” Pingel said. “We didn’t finish the game, but I had a great deal of confidence when we were led by (Heitert), and he did a great job.”

Added Heitert:

“We knew that the entire St. Louis area was probably gonna be thinking we were the underdogs. We knew after that game what we were capable of, playing such a talented team and making them work really hard for that win.” 

It wasn’t long before the Heitert-led Cadets were tested again — against De Smet, a rival that ended each of CBC’s previous two seasons. 

They didn’t care, though, because those losses were in the past. The Cadets, of course, had their sights set on getting their eventual state title. They showed that they were on a mission by following a Week 2 win over O’Fallon with a 44-29 win over De Smet.

“Getting that win got us over that hump that we’ve been dealing with for the last two seasons,” Heitert said. “I think, after competing with East St. Louis, that was the next step that we knew we could really be something special.

“We just went on a run, really.”

Yes, the Cadets did, winning their next nine games following the Week 3 win over De Smet by an average of 36 points per contest. That was a series of blowouts that lasted until CBC squared off against Kansas City powerhouse Lee’s Summit North in the semifinals, where the Cadets eventually nabbed a 28-21 win over the Broncos. 

That, seemingly for CBC, was the title game. 

Eight days after fending off one of the best teams the Kansas City metro area has to offer, the Cadets defeated perhaps the best team the Kansas City metro had to offer with a 48-21 win over Liberty North 48-21 in the title game.

“That was the best feeling ever. I mean, I’ve never seen a group of guys so serious. … It was an amazing experience to be a part of,” Heitert said of the championship in Columbia. “We ended my career on the best possible note, which is just awesome.”

Heitert isn’t done just yet, though. He’ll make a short two-hour trip south to continue his football career at Southeast Missouri State University. 

He signed his letter of intent to be a Redhawk on Dec. 15, and he’s planning on wasting little time making a name for himself in Cape Girardeau.

“Division I football — it doesn’t get much better than that,” Heitert said. “I’ll be working this whole offseason to try to get in there and be part of that competition immediately. … I’m not afraid of competition by any means, so I’m excited to get down there and compete.”