Mays, Westminster a force in the air

September 30, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

Steve Mays is leading a football revolution at Westminster High.

The senior quarterback and the Owls have scrapped that three yards and a cloud of dust stuff and are throwing the ball with regularity and accuracy.

In three games under new coach Tim Ebersole, Mays has completed 23-of-31 passes for 340 yards and five touchdowns, helping Westminster (2-1) pick up important victories over Class 4A opponents Woodlawn (33-12) and Meade (27-12).

Those two 4A wins are one more than the school had in its previous three seasons.

"We're shooting for the playoffs," said Mays, who also plays basketball and baseball. "So many people around here are excited about our chances for postseason play. The players are just as excited and we think we can do it."

Ebersole has let Mays know that he is there to throw the football first and run second, an approach that has given the quarterback a lot of confidence. The first-year coach also has relieved Mays of defensive back responsibilities.

"When we're working on defense, the coach just wants me to toss the football around," said Mays. "He doesn't want me getting hurt. His emphasis on me throwing the ball more this year has helped a lot. Last year, we had two good running backs [Chris DeGasperi and Steve Kahler] and my job was to get the ball to them."

Ebersole was a quarterback at Shippensburg State and obviously knows how to make Mays feel comfortable at the position.

"Coach Ebersole wants me to be in charge out on the field and I like that," said Mays. "He is a good leader. He encourages us a lot and our practices are up-tempo with a lot of hard work and organization."

Of course, no amount of hard work can substitute for the kind of protection Mays has been getting from his huge offensive line that includes 305-pound tackle Jim Stull.

"Jimmy Stull is great," said Mays. "He can go anywhere I go any day. He's doing a super job on the line and has improved his quickness."

Stull, offensive tackle Jed Harris (6 feet 3, 270 pounds) and tight end Mat Mathias (6-5, 240) all have created a lot of attention for Westminster.

"It feels good to hear people talking about us after a game," said Mays. "Like after we had beaten Meade, their players were saying, 'Man, did you see how big those guys were on that line. They were something else.'"

Mays not only loves the protection provided by the line when he's throwing the ball, but he enjoys running behind all that beef.

He has rushed for 150 yards and one touchdown, keeping opponents guessing just enough to set up the passing game.

"The fact that Steve can get the ball on the corner as quick as he does makes us a better team," said Ebersole. "I knew he could throw the ball but I didn't know he could run as well as he does. He's a team player and has developed into a leader on and off the field."

For Mays (6-0, 170), this is the start of what he hopes is an opportunity to prove he is good enough to play collegiate football at the Division II or Division III level.

"Football is my best sport and I'd love to continue playing in college," he said.

"There's nothing I'd rather do than play sports. I know studying is the most important thing, so I try to hit the books as much as I can while playing three sports."

An early-season hitting slump cost him a starting center field position on the baseball team last season, but he was a starting guard on the school's basketball team.

He hopes to win back that center field spot next spring. But right now, football is No. 1 on his mind.

Mays has been replaying his team's only loss (21-9 to Annapolis after Westminster led, 9-7, at halftime) over in his mind and believes the Owls should have won.

"That was a game we knew we should have won and could have won," he said. "It was a matter of playing four quarters."

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