DEWITT, Iowa - He's piled up the awards and adoration. But Central DeWitt's Brandon Jasper isn't finished.
As he enters what he hopes isn't the final baseball game of his high school career, Jasper remains intent on pushing for a second straight state tournament berth and more for his Sabers.
What would be the first state baseball championship is a long shot, likely requiring wins against Davenport Assumption, Dubuque Wahlert and Solon simply to advance to Des Moines' Principal Park. But Jasper remains undeterred as he embraces his role as leader and role model.
He was team captain in four sports his senior year, and treated that title more seriously than most.
"It feels good to have younger guys looking up to you, wanting to be like you some day," he said. "So you gotta make sure you're putting in the time to get better. You can never plateau."
That's not a problem he's had through an illustrious prep career that's featured high-level individual and team success. After hitting a Class 3A- best (minimum 100 at-bats) .516 last summer, Jasper has "dipped" to .427, which still led the WaMaC East.
In response, he's boosted his RBIs and walks, while cutting down on strikeouts (four in 117 at-bats). The result has been another season topping 20 victories and a chance at a return to Des Moines.
Next year he's off to play baseball for Augustana.
"He's always been a great baseball talent," Sabers coach Shane Sikkema said. "As a freshman and sophomore, there were some struggles.
"But he has the desire, and his speed can't be taught."
The fleet-footed Jasper has used that acceleration to propel his success in all four of his sports. Baseball was his first sport at age 6. He's always been a headache on the basepaths for opponents (62 steals in his varsity career), but his first step has proven helpful across all seasons.
On the basketball court, he found success playing guard despite a not-so-intimidating jumper and underwhelming assist numbers. He was always right there defensively and ahead on the fastbreak.
DeWitt football coach Kurt Kreiter used Jasper exclusively at fullback as a junior. That spring, Kreiter watched Jasper emerge from relative obscurity to win the 200-meter dash at the 3A state track meet. Kreiter felt compelled to move Jasper to halfback the next fall, and the senior responded with 979 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
"I've been here 25 years, and I'll say he's one of my favorites to have watched as a spectator and a coach," Kreiter said. "I'm just a real fan of the kid."
So are legions of DeWitt residents, though he's never been approached by an autograph-seeking youngster.
In 2009, he paced the Sabers to the 3A state team track championship and last year took the baseball team to state for the first time in program history. Both achievements were highly improbable, and Jasper is fully aware of the long odds at one more state baseball berth.
But as he prepares for today's district opener against 30-win Assumption, he's using DeWitt's underdog status as motivation rather than trepidation.
"We've all been in that big-time situation," he said. "And we've handled the pressure pretty well.
"But it could be our last game. You don't want to give it up, so you gotta give it all you got."