Home Sports Thrust into starter’s role last year, Sandburg’s Anthony Shelton steps up as junior QB. ‘I have to be ready.’

Thrust into starter’s role last year, Sandburg’s Anthony Shelton steps up as junior QB. ‘I have to be ready.’

by staff

As a sophomore quarterback, Sandburg’s Anthony Shelton had expected to be the backup, learning how to play the position at the varsity level from senior starter Christian Evans.

But when Evans tore his ACL in the second game of the 2022 season, Shelton was suddenly thrust into the starter’s role for the Eagles. And he’s been there ever since.


Fortunately, he’s a fast learner.

“It was a horrible situation for our team,” Shelton recalled. “I was kind of feeling like, ‘I have to be ready.’ I was warming up at halftime — I did my best. I went play by play.”


He still does. In Friday’s season opener against St. Rita, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Shelton threw a pair of touchdowns in a 42-21 loss. He completed 11 for 17 passes for 149 yards.

One of those scoring plays was an 83-yard pass to junior receiver Charlie Snorek. Later, Shelton found Snorek again, this time for an 8-yard TD. In all, Snorek caught six passes for 121 yards and also rushed for a TD.

The benefit of Shelton starting most of last season is that Sandburg coach Troy McAllister has been able to open the playbook as opposed to “packaging” the offense game by game.

That, and the fact Shelton has innate leadership capabilities, has made the transition from the lower levels easier for newcomers like sophomore running back Luke Basiorka, who ran for 112 yards on 24 carries in his varsity debut.

“In our group chats, he’s always getting us ready for games, getting us ready for practices,” Basiorka said. “Two weeks ago, he was telling us, ‘Get ready for this game.’

“He’s a great leader overall.”

What’s even more unique about Shelton’s capabilities is he didn’t really take up the position until he was a freshman. He played mostly lineman and tight end for the Orland Park Pioneers youth program.

But as a freshman, he felt like he had the ability to play quarterback and wanted to give it a try. He was the freshman team’s quarterback until he got pulled up to the sophomore team for the tail end of that season.


Shelton also started the first sophomore game the following year before being bumped up to varsity.

And then things really got interesting.

“He had practiced with varsity all summer last year,” McAllister said. “We knew he could come in and not do everything but be effective for us.

“He had his struggles, but he had some moments where we said, ‘He’s going to be really good down the road.’”

This summer, Shelton developed his skills by participating in coach Jeff Christiansen’s Throw It Deep quarterback and receiver academy. Shelton estimated that he was joined by 30 other area high school quarterbacks.

It’s a program he said is “very organized training. The coaches there are awesome. They help you a lot.”


Of course, Shelton did a lot of weight lifting and got the team together for offseason training, another mark of his leadership abilities.

“I am a loud kid,” he said. “I’m very vocal. I am one of the loudest guys on the team. I lead by example, but I’m loud when it comes to anything on the field.”

What does the future look like for Shelton?

It’s only the beginning of his junior season, with a bunch of games to go on the schedule, including Friday’s 7 p.m. nonconference game at Oak Forest (0-1).

But Shelton feels like he can play at the next level. McAllister thinks so, too.

“He’s got a really high football IQ and some leadership qualities in his personality,” McAllister said, “And he’s got a little bit of gunslinger in him.”


Gregg Voss is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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