Near the end of their last season together longtime Notre Dame of Crowley football coach Lewis Cook Jr. had one request of senior quarterback Brad Stoma.
“I told him not to forget when spring training starts,” Cook said. “I told him he had to come out at least for the first day because I may not know where the field is if I didn’t see him out there. I’ve had him for three years. I may look around and say, ‘where’s Brad?’ ”
Just over three years Cook ended a budding quarterback derby among three candidates with the selection of Stoma, then a sophomore, to lead the Pioneers into the 2012 season.
Stoma handsomely repaid Cook’s faith and went on to enjoy a stellar three-year career that will officially conclude with Saturday’s LHSCA East-West All-Star game at Shreveport’s Independence Stadium.
Stoma, along with teammate Nate Link, will represent the West team in the 72-player event that kicks off at 1 p.m.
“It’s an honor to be selected,” Stoma said. “I will be representing Notre Dame with Nate, and it’s a big honor. There’s 72 guys, and we’re two of them. When you consider how many good players there are in this state, it’s an honor.”
Stoma was the latest in a line of family members that enjoyed decorated careers at Notre Dame. His father and brother — both named Ricky — played defensive back and were a part of state championship teams.
Brad Stoma fondly recalled his ascent to the Pioneers starting quarterback job, getting the nod over two rising juniors after the team’s spring game.
“I grew up playing with my brothers, so I didn’t know how big the stage was,” Stoma said. “I went into it and didn’t get nervous. I was prepared and didn’t try to overthink things.”
Cook said all three quarterbacks alternated every snap in spring practice but ultimately went with Stoma for a variety of reasons ranging from his athleticism to confidence and field presence.
“I knew pretty much right away,” said Cook, who joined the state’s 300-win coaching fraternity this season. “He had those intangibles in a guy you look for to lead the team. It’s nice that he’s athletic, but he understood the game and had natural leadership qualities. He was able to be consistent. He continued to work at it and learn it.”
Cook said in his 30-year career Stoma became only the third sophomore to quarterback one of his 10 teams to the Superdome, leading Notre Dame to a 13-2 record and Class 3A state runner-up finish to Parkview Baptist.
Stoma went on to help the Pioneers to three straight undefeated district championships and playoff appearances, which ended in the quarterfinals in 2013 and semifinals this year, falling to eventual Division II state champion University High.
“I was proud of the way how he handled himself; it never had to be about him,” Cook said. “He was always willing to do whatever that gave us the best chance to win. It’s nice when you’ve got the guy in charge of everything feeling that way. He made life better for all of us.”
Stoma, who will split time Saturday with Thibodaux’s Peyton Bonvillain, wound up 34-6 as a starter, completing 63 percent of his passes (249 of 397) for 3,802 yards with 38 touchdowns against nine interceptions.
Stoma concluded this season with 1,342 passing yards with 15 TDs and four interceptions. He completed 61 percent of throws and earned the District 6-3A offensive MVP award.
“It went pretty well,” Stoma said of his career. “I’ll think about all the relationships I’ve built. On the field it’s been great to start three years. We helped each other out and made each other better.”