Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
CENTRAL POINT — As he looked at the roster last year for what would be his 2013 football team, the choice became clear for Crater head coach John Beck.
With a bevy of athletic, skilled receivers at his disposal and not the typical bruisers the Comets have been known for in years past, Beck knew the path to potential success would be through the air.
And he had the perfect trigger man to make it happen.
Enter Ty Fox, who shared quarterback duties one year ago but carried all the makings of someone who could bring the Comets' attack to life.
"For what we're doing, you have to have a quarterback that can spin it, that's the key," says Beck. "You have to have the right trigger guy, and Ty definitely fits that."
Standing 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, with a background as a power pitcher in baseball, Fox has been a perfect match for Crater's no-huddle, spread offense. For several weeks running, the senior has led the state in passing yards and has shown a knack for distributing the ball to any number of weapons at his disposal.
"This offense is awesome," says Fox. "It's all pretty much on you and you make the decision to how the offense is run based on what you see. I like distributing it around and being in control like that."
Thriving in the Comets' pass-happy scheme through eight weeks, Fox enters Friday's regular season finale against South Medford with a state-best 2,617 yards passing after completing 186 of 325 attempts. His 23 touchdowns are tied for third in the state — just two off leader Jonathan Boland of Parkrose — although his 11 interceptions, with most coming early in the year, are tied for fourth.
"I think he's exceeded expectations," says Beck. "As the season has gone on, he's gotten better and better and his turnover ratio has gotten better and better."
None of it, though, has come as a surprise to Fox. Even when he was splitting time with Central Point's American Legion A baseball team — which went 40-13 and won the state and regional titles — Fox could see big things on the horizon for the football program.
"It doesn't really surprise me that much about our numbers because we've been working over the summer with this offense and we just kinda expected it to be this way," he says. "Usually Crater football is about running the ball around and tough defense, but it's different this year and we've adjusted to it pretty well."
So well, in fact, that Fox already has established a new single-season high for passing yards at Crater and likely will end the season with the most single-season passing TDs in school history.
"There's no way anybody's close to him," says Beck. "There's no way anybody here has thrown for 1,500 yards let alone 2,600 with more games to go."
"His accuracy on his throws is what's really exceptional for a high school guy," adds the coach. "He can throw the ball on a dime on the dig route or stick it in the corner wherever he wants. Most high school guys can't really do that."
While having his name in the history books is an honor, it wasn't on Fox's mind as he assumed the reins for this season.
"Numbers don't really mean that much to me," he insists, "I just go out there to have fun with my friends and have fun in ballgames and try to help out our community and our team. It's awesome to have (the records) but it's not what it's all about for me."
Making Fox such a weapon with the football in his hands is a rocket arm that needs little time to load and fire. Fox is the type of quarterback who may not have his feet set but still can rifle a 30-yard dart downfield like it's nothing. He also now possesses a firm grasp on what needs to be done after the play call comes in.
"He has great vision and obviously he has a great arm and can really spin it," says Beck. "He's really made the right reads. There are like two or three reads off every single play he can run, whether he throws it here or there or keeps it. There's so many options off our one-play sequence, you have to have a guy who's a good decision-maker and has a good grasp of the concepts and takes what the defense gives you and Ty's all of that. People have tried different things at different times to shut him down and he's adjusted really well."
As for a favorite play, Fox says only one thing comes to mind.
"Pretty much any play that puts points on the board is good with me," he says with a laugh.
The Comets (2-6, 2-4 Southwest) enter Friday's game averaging 423 yards of total offense and 31 points per game. Fox helped break a winless drought with a seven-touchdown effort against Thurston two weeks ago, then came close to passing for 400 yards in last week's win at South Eugene. Typically not looking to run, Fox still has carried the ball 71 times for 218 yards and four scores.
"He's kinda deceptive, a lot like Ben Roethlisberger," says Beck. "You don't think he can do it but he can. When he gets pressured sometimes I'm just like, 'How did he get out of that?"
But for all his intangibles at quarterback, Fox says his production is only thanks to the work being done by his offensive line, which appears to be jelling, and those playmakers on the perimeter and in the backfield that helped spark the offensive switch in the first place.
Senior receiver Kory Bennett leads the SWC with 791 yards and nine TDs on 50 receptions, while Dallin George is third (53 catches for 662 yards and three TDs). Dylan Morgan (21 catches for 424 yards and eight TDs) and Matt Dent (25 catches for 402 yards and two TDs) also rank in the top 12, while Carlos Higuera and Davey McCollum are equally adept as runners or receivers out of the backfield.
"With all the guys I've got and all their talent," says Fox, "I can just throw it pretty much wherever and they'll adjust to it and make something happen. It's pretty awesome for me to have guys like that I can count on."
And vice versa.