In four seasons, Matt Wicks has imprinted his persona on the Anclote High football program, watching it steadily grow in terms of victories and establishing its own image. Now, in what may be the breakthrough season the coach has been awaiting, Austin Rumer is poised to play a leading role.
For an offense that's not shy about passing, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound tight end is a fantastic fit.
"We throw it a lot," said the coach, whose team averaged 14 attempts per game a season ago. "We believe we've got someone in Austin who allows us to spread the field and create mismatches. He can catch the ball and he's one of our better blockers, so he's going to figure prominently in our plans."
A season ago, that role rested with Ryan Patterson, who finished with a team-high 24 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns. With Patterson graduated, Rumer's role will be greatly expanded.
"I love playing this position," Rumer said. "It gives me a chance to make an impact and play a big role for us. With our offense, we've got the players to score a lot of points."
A few points were all that kept Anclote from its first winning season and could prove the difference in what Wicks hopes will be a playoff run this season – an inconceivable thought for a program that won no games its first season and just two its second. The Sharks lost four games by a combined 22 points a season ago.
Now, with quarterback John Forgione forming a solid rapport with Rumer through the air and bruising fullback Willie Barrett anchoring the ground game, the three playoff footballs Wicks purchased could be put to use for the first time this November.
"That's the goal," Wicks said, "and Austin's going to play a huge role helping us get there. We have special plays we run for him, because he has a big body and knows how to use it to get position against defenders.
"We're definitely lucky to have a tight end that we can really rely on. Not every team has that."