Almost everyone knows who's throwing the passes at Bishop Carroll. Far fewer know who is actually catching them.
After losing Joe Brown and Nick Johansen to graduation, the Eagles entered the season with an unproven group of wide receivers for quarterback Blake Bell, one of the nation's top recruits. And while no individual has emerged as the go-to-guy, the group has become successful. Carroll (11-0) travels to Hutchinson tonight for a matchup with the undefeated, top-ranked Salthawks in a Class 5A semifinal.
Carroll's Tyler Nance, Brandon Weber, Danny Crippen, Blake Rollins, John Mies, Tanner Gilmore and Shane Brittain have combined for all but eight of Carroll's 212 receptions this year. they have 2,458 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns.
Not bad for a group of players that began the season with the same expectation as Forrest Gump's box of chocolates.
"There was a big question mark about who would produce early on because only one guy returned who caught the football," Carroll coach Alan Schuckman said. "But this group has worked hard and each individual has made the most of his opportunity."
The receivers are reaping the benefits of success now, but the foundation was set during the summer when Bell and his receivers worked countless hours. While Bell's travel schedule and the installation of turf on Carroll's football field were obstacles, the players knew that finding the time wasn't optional.
"I had a lot going on, but we did a great job of finding time," Bell said. "We'd call each other up and go out to Maize and practice. We knew we had to get it done to be successful."
They may tease each other about production, Schuckman said, but no one is selfish.
"We don't know who's going to have a big game, but someone usually does and that's what matters," Rollins said. "In this type of offense you have to have more than one guy who can catch the ball."
Catching the ball is the only thing that each individual in the group seems to have in common. Their ability to make catches in all kinds of situations makes the Carroll offense go. The Eagles average 43 points a game and their lowest point total was 28 against Heights in the first game of the season.
"It doesn't matter how fast or quick you are. If the ball is thrown to you and you drop it, you are going to the defense," Schuckman said. "Each player has their own quality and from that they all contribute."
Carroll will have its hands full with a Hutchinson defense that is giving up less than 13 points a game.
"Their program is solid," Bell said. "It's going to be a tough game, but we are looking forward to going out there and seeing what we can do."