Pinkerton Astros Football '07

Starting quarterbacks Hal Landers, left, of Salem High School and Peter Mazzola of Pinkerton Academy are ready for the football season to begin. » Heather Mancini, Staff Photographer

Trapped in run-based offenses, three area QBs rise to top of their games

  • Currently 0.0 with 0 votes.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tuesday, August, 28 By Hector Longo
Staff writer

They are akin to NASCAR drivers trapped behind the wheel of a '79 Olds Cutlass ...

World class jockeys forced to ride mules...

Naval aviators piloting single-engine Cessnas.

But heading into their senior seasons | with opening games less than a week away | Salem's Hal Landers, Pinkerton Academy's Peter Mazzola and Londonderry High's Craig Enos are right where they want to be, leading their respective clubs into what all three feel could be championship seasons.

"Yeah, I know it's a running offense, but people who don't respect the pass will see," said Landers, the second-year starting signal-caller for the Blue Devils. "If you're not ready for it, the play-action passing game can hurt you." Landers, like the other two senior QBs, has learned his lessons well. Veteran coach Jack Gati wasn't about to change his ways and deviate from the fabled Salem run-dominated, "straight-T" attack. Gati isn't the lone local coach to have basically taken the "shoot" out of run-and-shoot offenses. Enos, this fall, will run the ancient, "single-wing" offense, an offense that like the straight-T lost its popularity around the end of World War II.

At Pinkerton, coach Brian O'Reilly promises a return to a "more traditional" Delaware Wing-T offense as the Bryan Farris Era comes to a close, with "more traditional" equalling fewer passes and more runs.

Still, down one score with the game on the line in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, Gati, O'Reilly and Londonderry's Tom Sawyer all have confidence that their quarterbacks can deliver in the clutch.

Mazzola finally gets shot

"Peter is our quarterback because he's very good," said O'Reilly, who eschewed the idea of going with one of his talented underclassmen, rewarding Mazzola with one season under center.

"He's the best man for the job, and he gives us the best chance to win games."

Mazzola moves from halfback, where he ran for 429 yards and scored six touchdowns as a junior.

"Believe me, I've been waiting four years for this, so I'm fired up about it," said Mazzola, an All-Division 1 midfielder for O'Reilly in lacrosse. "I'm a quarterback at heart, always have been."

With Mazzola, the Wing-T will mix in less passing and more of the option play.

Farris threw for 2,569 yards in two seasons. Before him, it was Graeme Clohosey with 2,107 yards through the air his senior year.

"With Peter, the ball is going to stay in the hands of our four backs," said O'Reilly. "By the end of the game, he should have as many carries as the other three backs in the game."

Pinkerton has plowed through a trio of preseason scrimmage opponents.

"Really, there haven't been a ton of adjustments," said Mazzola, who connected on 1 of 3 passes for 24 yards last year. "The only problem is that I've gotten my tongue a little twisted calling the plays, trying to get the team out of the huddle."

Competition pushes Enos

Enos' resume through three years at Londonderry High speaks for itself.

The Lancers ended a run of four straight losing seasons last fall with Enos running the show.

He threw for 550 yards with four TD passes in leading the Lancers (7-4) to their first playoff game since 2001. And all he got for his trouble was some competition in the form of 6-foot-6 senior Ryan Griffin, who after three seasons at New Hampton Prep.

"I like the competition," said Enos, who will share the dual signal-calling duties with Griffin in the offense that made "Pop" Warner famous back in the early 1900s.

"Having Griffin has definitely pushed me. And now, you see the kind of weapon he can be, especially catching the football. He's such a big target. It's an added sense of security when you throw the football to him. He's a great target, just an all-around good football player."

Enos promised that if teams gang up and try to smother the running game, the Lancers will have the weapons to make the opposition pay.

"We'll definitely be throwing more than most single-wing teams you'll see out there," said Enos. "I really like this offense. I feel that there won't be many teams who can prepare for all this offense can do to a team in just one week."

Landers posing air/speed threat

Landers plays at the back of the defense and does what comes naturally.

"He plays center field in baseball, and that's pretty much what he's asked to do in our defense," said Gati. "He's pretty effortless out there. We expect that.

"(As a quarterback) I'll say he's doing a lot better than I thought he was going to."

Landers, who hit on 37 of 86 passes for 653 yards and six TDs as a junior, battled more than his share of competition this fall.

Pushed hard by senior Peter Allain, Landers won the QB job for the second straight year.

After trips to two straight Division 1 title games, there is no secret where Landers' sights are set.

"This is it, the most important year, our year," said Landers. "I want to go to the state championship again. We definitely have the kind of team that can go there."

Landers spent most of the summer where his athletic future probably lies, on the baseball diamond. He hit .406 last spring for the Blue Devils.

So far, Gati likes what he's seen, though.

"He's very deceptive in his faking, and he's got that speed," said Gati. "With the experience, he's got that quarterback savvy. And he's been very sharp, working in the play-action passing game."

0 Story Comments