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RENSSELAER | We've all seen the negative images some football players have shown across American. Substance abuse. Wife-beating. Child abuse. Arrogant personalities mocking the masses in front of the spotlight.

ESPN's SportsCenter sometimes is more like a police blotter telecast than a highlight program. This behavior is in pro, college, and sadly, high school sports way too often.

Enter Rensselaer senior Jake Steinke. The defensive back on defense and running back on offense is talented.

He is a star on Indiana's Class 2A No. 2 Bombers' football program. His team will host the Northern Semistate on Friday against conference rival Lafayette Central Catholic.

The winner will advance to the 2A state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday, Nov. 28 at 11 a.m.

But if Rensselaer beats LCC, like it did on Oct. 10 by a score of 9-0, don't expect Steinke to go out and paint the town red. Or black, in this case.

That isn't his cup of tea.

"I am a peer minister at my church," Steinke said of St. Augustine Catholic Church in town. "We usually meet on Wednesday nights. I help lead the middle school youth group. We talk about a lot of issues young kids are dealing with.

"I want to help them out, just like I had people there for me when I was younger."

Former Bomber great Ben Ahler was a peer minister when Steinke was a Bomber middle schooler. The council helped the 5-foot-9, 160-pounder see a light to help him make good choices.

Steinke is also a member of the National Honor Society.

He was born and raised in Wisconsin. He did not move to Rensselaer until the fourth grade. His father, Tommy, played football for Rensselaer, so the family returned home so the son could wear the same colors.

But something happened along the way.

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"I signed up for Pop Warner when I got here," Steinke said. "I quit. I was scared."

It took four more years before Steinke put on the cleats again, when he was in eighth grade. No one was happier than Bombers coach Chris Meeks.

He's carried the ball 38 times for 374 yards with two scores. He's caught 14 passes for 348 yards with two more scores. He has 252 return yards via punts and 105 via kickoffs.

He also has 39 tackles with three interceptions.

He's not afraid of the game anymore.

"Jake's not real vocal," Meeks said. "He does his talking on the field. He's like a lot of our players. He's worked very hard in the weight room and he has gotten the most out of his abilities. He's really fast and he loves to play the game.

"Jake is just a great student-athlete at Rensselaer High School."

Like most who live in town, most plan on being at the game on Friday, which is expected to be a standing-room only sell out. This is the Bombers' fourth semistate game since 2009.

It is the first semistate game that will be played at home.

Steinke suffered a concussion in the sectional opener against Bishop Noll, so he sat out Round 2 against Bowman Academy. He hasn't played much offense since the head injury.

"Anywhere we go in town we have three or four people say, 'Great game on Friday,'" Steinke said. "We even get free donuts at the bakery when we win. We are so excited for this game. This is going to be crazy, people everywhere.

"They (LCC) do what they do very well. If they're throwing the ball then we're doing our jobs."

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Sports Reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.

Sports Director

Hillary has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.