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Quick study at Crater

In his first year of football, Comets' Chase Maloney has emerged as one of the SOC's top defensive backs

CENTRAL POINT ' It didn't take long for first-year Crater High football coach John Beck to realize that he had a special athlete in Chase Maloney.

Beck already had a pretty good idea, knowing that Maloney had won a Class 4A state wrestling title at 152 pounds last February.

But just in case Beck needed more evidence, Maloney offered him some when he did a running backflip at a Crater off-season workout last June.

Two months later, as the Comets were getting ready for daily doubles, Maloney ran a mile in 5:02.

He was mad because he didn't break 5 minutes, Beck says. I thought, wow, this kid competes like crazy no matter what he does.

— Maloney had never before played football, not even at the YMCA or Pop Warner levels, when he lined up at cornerback for the Comets in their season opener against Lincoln on Sept. 10.

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior held his own that night, covering the Cardinal receivers like a blanket and making tackles on the perimeter.

Halfway through the season, Beck believes Maloney is playing his position as well as anyone in the Southern Oregon Conference even though the 0-5 Comets are still searching for their first win.

Crater travels to Roseburg on Friday.

It's amazing how quickly he's adjusted to football ' it just shows what kind of an athlete he is, Beck says. He's got good speed, he's strong for his size but, more than anything, he's just plain tough.

Maloney says his wrestling background has been a huge plus on the gridiron.

Taking a guy down on the mat and tackling a guy out on the field is pretty similar, he says, except that in football, you can hit a guy as hard as you can.

Learning how to play pass defense has been Maloney's greatest challenge. He admits to getting beat several times during summer league games and at a summer camp.

The play-action stuff is what really got me, he says. I kept going for the fakes and getting burned.

But secondary coach Chris Parnell, who spent 16 years at North Medford High before following Beck to Crater, was patient with his new defensive back.

He kept encouraging me and telling me to learn from my mistakes, Maloney says. He showed me all kinds of cover techniques. I wouldn't be anywhere near where I'm at without coach P.

Maloney's best game thus far was on Oct. — against North Medford. He had 10 tackles, a couple of deflections and a big interception near the end of the first half when the Black Tornado was trying to expand a 14-0 lead.

Maloney positioned himself in front of standout North Medford wide receiver Kyle Williamson and intercepted the ball in the corner of the end zone.

He's their No. — guy and I figured they'd go to him in that situation, Maloney says. He ran a corner route, I read it and then I just waited for the ball.

Maloney admits it has been highly frustrating to play on a team that hasn't won a game. That's a huge contrast from wrestling, where the Comets are three-time defending state champions and where Maloney has posted a 72-8 record the past two years.

When you get beat in wrestling, you have no one to blame but yourself, he says. You can go back to the wrestling room, work harder and fix things.

But football's a team sport. You can do your best and the team still loses. It makes it tough.

Maloney doesn't regret for one moment his decision to play football, however. He's on the ground floor for what he sees as a rebuilding project at Crater.

He might even treat the Comet fans to a backflip when they win their first game this season.

Crater?s Chase Maloney and the winless Comets travel to Roseburg on Friday. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli