QB switch puts Century in winning position

November 28, 2008|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Baltimore Sun

What could have been a touchy situation for the Century football team before the season instead turned into the engine that has driven the Knights into tonight's Class 2A state semifinals.

Sensing he needed a major overhaul of his option offense, coach Tony Shermeyer asked incumbent quarterback Luke Wright to give up the role to a strong-armed junior.

Now, Josh Bordner is Carroll County's top quarterback, Wright its most dangerous playmaker and the Knights - who hadn't posted a winning record before or won more than two straight games - are 12-0 and ranked No. 10 in the metro area.

"I think that's the biggest reason why we're where we are right now," Shermeyer said. "Josh became the quarterback we were hoping he would become, and Luke became the threat we were hoping he'd become at the slot or receiver position. It's just a matter of having the right guys in the right places."

Bordner spent his sophomore year as a wide receiver in the run-oriented offense, with Shermeyer relying on him mainly for his defensive abilities at linebacker. Heading into tonight's game at top-ranked River Hill, Bordner has completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,049 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Along the way, he completed 14 of 18 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns in a 29-24 win over Westminster and twice was named the Monocacy Valley Athletic League's Blue Ridge Conference Player of the Week.

Most of his passes have gone to Wright, a 5-foot-9, 155-pound speedster who has 754 receiving yards, 280 rushing yards and 14 total touchdowns.

"Me and Josh are best friends," said Wright, a senior. "Our relationship off the field is obviously helping us on the field, too. Me and him just look at each other and know what's going to happen, and most of the time it does."

Add 234-pound running back Cory Anderlik and his 1,100 rushing yards to the mix, and it's little wonder the Knights have scored 34 points a game.

"I think the biggest change is that we're not as much of a one-person team anymore," fullback Mike Conway said. "Everyone contributes now in the backfield. We all work as a whole, and that's what is getting everything done this year."

Shermeyer had known about the 6-foot-4 Bordner's big arm, but felt he wasn't ready to face varsity defenses as a sophomore. Once last fall's 4-6 season concluded, he knew the time was right to move Bordner, who also has eight sacks on defense.

Perhaps even more than promoting Bordner, the switch was meant to better use Wright, who had been thrust into the quarterback role out of necessity. Now, he could be freed up to use his playmaking abilities in the open field.

"Looking back on it, I think he was a little bit disappointed that he wasn't going to touch the ball on every play, but Luke is a team player," Shermeyer said. "Once I showed him what the offense was and the many ways we were going to get the ball in his hands, he was pretty receptive to the idea."

The new combination quickly resulted in huge offensive performances, such as in September's 53-13 win over Frederick, when Bordner connected with Wright on four passes for 155 yards, including three touchdowns.

As the season progressed, opponents began game planning to contain Wright, creating opportunities for Bordner to use other weapons such as tight end Zack Zile. Anderlik has excelled, as well, rushing for more than 100 yards six times, including 155 yards and four touchdowns in last week's 47-0 rout of Middletown in the regional final.

"When you double-stack Luke, it's going to open things in the middle for our running game," Shermeyer said.

Now, the Knights face their most daunting task of the season in the defending state champion Hawks. Shermeyer said he plans to stick with the offensive game plan that has taken his team this far.

It's a place that before this season he never imagined possible.

"I had a very good idea we were going to have our first winning season," said Shermeyer, recalling how last year's team was in every game but one. "But being 12-0 and in the state semifinals ... no way."

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