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Through the pandemic challenges, Democrats' senior quarterback has come out stronger.

After a year shaped and molded by the COVID-19 pandemic, changes and delays are nothing new to Jefferson High School football's Dondrae Fair.

So when the Democrats' senior QB had to sit out week 3 against Wells because of contact tracing, Fair did the next best thing he could: Start watching film of week 4 opponent Lincoln.

Great decision.

Fair rushed the ball six times for 99 yards, including a 53-yard TD run while also going 5-for-16 passing for 69 yards and two TDs with one interception. And he also came up with two picks on defense in the 34-14 win last Friday.

{obj:57121:All in a day's work for Oregon's No. 23-ranked recruit, according to 247sports,} who's got the breakaway speed to outrun a defense but also the strength to power through any block.PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Jefferson quarterback Dondrae Fair, left, outruns a Lincoln defender Friday, Sept. 24, at Jefferson High School. The Democrats won 34-14.

"(Fair is not) just an athlete, he's an all-around player," Demos teammate and Oregon commit Tre'Jon Williams said. "I love that, me as a player too, I love him flying around the field and doing great things too. It's good to see teammates do great things."

While some of the stats looked solid from Lincoln, Jefferson coach Anthony Stoudamire knows there's still plenty of room for improvement.

Only scoring 34 points in the 34-14 win over Lincoln after the Demos grabbed eight turnovers isn't quite the offensive output he'd expect.

But there's no doubt in Stoudamire when it comes to his QB1.

"I'm nothing but proud of that kid, he's had four coaches in four years and that's tough on the kid," Stoudamire said. "But he's hung in there, he's persevered and he continues to listen and get better.

"I think the kid is one of the best quarterbacks around right now. He's gritty, he's gutsy and he wants it."

The COVID-19 pandemic has only proved Stoudamire's point once more on his senior QB.

Missing week 3 was just the tip of the iceberg of some of the personal challenges Fair has had to face since everyone's lives were turned upside-down in March 2020.

Getting through the changes is a daily fight, but one that Fair uses to fuel himself on and off the gridiron.

"COVID really affected me and my life outside of football, so I'm trying to get back in that mode again pre-COVID," Fair said. "Lost a lot of people. Emotionally and mentally, things changed. Definitely matured way more. Just a lot of adversity to fight through and it's been a life lesson. It really helped me on the football field and off the football field as an individual."

With the challenges Fair already has overcome, his focus is to prove himself and play Division I college football.

The senior has two offers — one from Indiana and the other from William and Mary — and is looking for more.

Ask anyone on the Jefferson sideline and they'll tell you Fair is capable of playing for anyone, not just because of his athletic ability, but because of the leader he already is.

"He's a natural leader and he's always positive," Stoudamire said. "He doesn't drop his head when he makes a mistake, he acknowledges that and says, 'That's my bad coach.' He pumps his other players up when they make a mistake, he doesn't get down on them.PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Jefferson quarterback Dondrae Fair, left, looks to pass downfield with Brady Kopetz of Lincoln in pursuit Friday, Sept. 24, at Jefferson High School.

"He's the ultimate leader that any coach would love to have."

That view of Fair isn't just seen from the coaching staff either.

"He just wants to bring everybody together and have everybody be on the same page," Williams said. "He's that leader of the team, and we're going to help him lead the team too."

Jefferson currently is in the hunt for the Special District 1 league title, better known as the PIL, as the Demos sit 2-2 overall and 2-0 in league.

Grant and Roosevelt also are unbeaten in league play with the Generals at 2-0 and Roosevelt at 1-0.

Jefferson still has both on the upcoming schedule and are shaping up to be the biggest challenge for Fair and the Demos this year.

But if COVID hasn't been enough to slow down Fair, those league foes might be in trouble.

Austin White
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