Shane Mascarenas, the Wichita Wild's backup quarterback, didn't expect to play in the season opener, so what did it matter where he put his helmet?
He stuck the helmet behind a chair on the team's bench and promptly forgot about it — which became a very big problem when starter Alex Rouse went down in the fourth quarter at the Nebraska Danger.
Normally a cool customer, Mascarenas, along with his teammates, went into scramble, seek-and-find mode.
"At first, I picked up the wrong helmet; I grabbed our kicker's because we have the exact same helmet," Mascarenas. "Then I finally found mine."
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That disaster averted, Mascarenas proceeded to pick apart Nebraska's defense, completing 5 of 8 passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns.
The Wild lost, but Mascarenas' performance confirmed coach Ken Matous' belief that the former McPherson College star can be a productive player in the Indoor Football League. Mascarenas, last season's Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference offensive player of the year, will start in the Wild's home opener against the Green Bay Blizzard (0-1) tonight in Hartman Arena.
"I've said it since Day 1 — we've got two quarterbacks who can start in this league," Matous said.
Coming from a college that used a spread offense, Mascarenas said he immediately felt comfortable at the IFL level. Last year at McPherson, which used mostly four-receiver formations, he played exclusively out of the shotgun and threw for 3,621 yards and 35 touchdowns, both school records. In 2009 and 2010, he guided the Bulldogs to a 19-3 record.
"I definitely don't feel like I'm in over my head," he said. "I know there's a lot of pressure on me, but, being the quarterback, you're always gonna have some pressure. I like it. I like all eyes on me.
"This is my chance. I'm not coming out timid. I'm not coming out thinking, 'Oh no, what if this or that happens?' I'm just going out there and playing football."
Notes — Former Kansas star Jake Sharp moved into the starting lineup at wide receiver this week. In the opener, he was a standout on special teams but caught only one pass, which went for an 18-yard touchdown. "Their guy was sitting there, at the 1-yard line, and Jake just lowered his shoulder and his helmet and ran over the guy," Matous said. "It was a hell of a play."... A priority tonight will be getting the ball to receiver Clinton Solomon, who had four catches for 26 yards and a touchdown last week. "The offense is built around getting him the ball," Matous said.... General manager John Blazek said Thursday that the game will sell out.... The Wild is 11-3 in regular season games at Hartman Arena.