Written by Michael Florio Thursday, 26 September 2013 00:00
The quarterback competition for the Sewanhaka Indians was tight all summer, but experience trumped youth.
Jake Mellen won the job for the Sewanhaka High School’s varsity football team. Mellen, a senior, was battling sophomore Elijah Tracy.
“Jake had a better summer and performed better in the scrimmages,” said Indians head coach George Kasimatis. “He has a better grasp of the offense and he has a leadership role. Being a leader, he has more invested.”
Kasimatis does not want to take anything away from Tracy either. The first-year varsity signal-caller is primed for the role in the next few seasons.
“Elijah is an outstanding person. He does things every day not only athletically but as a person that surprises me,” Kasimatis said.
Mellen’s grasp of the offense played heavily into the coach’s decision. Tracy, though talented, needs time.
“Jake knows the offense because he has been running it longer. He has also been working with the wide receivers and running backs longer,” said Kasimatis. “Elijah is kind of like the new kid on the block and has a little bit of work to make up.”
Kasimatis speaks highly of Mellen’s ability to throw the ball. The passing game for the Indians could be a key factor come the late season playoff push.
“Jake is known for having a really good arm,” he said. “When you go out there and watch him, you are, like, this kid is pretty impressive.”
Mellen threw the only touchdown in a 39-14 week one loss to Lynbrook. He threw what Kasimatis called a “pretty slant pass” to senior wide receiver Mahlik Elliot.
With Mellen starting at quarterback, it allows Kasimatis to be more versatile with his use of Tracy. The ninth-grader played some snaps at wide receiver and on defense, while also playing quarterback at the end of the game for the Indians.
Kasimatis looks for his quarterback to be a leader on and off the field. He is confident in both players to do so.
“He [the quarterback] has to be the guy that carries the torch. Both of these guys do that,” said Kasimatis. “They carry equipment off the field; they don’t ask others to do it. They lead by example. In school, they’re doing the right things.
They are leaders on and off the field and that’s what we look for.”
Despite Mellen having the job now, Kasimatis made it clear that the competition is not over. It’s a week-to-week competition, and he will make a change if necessary.
While Kasimatis did say that Tracy is learning on the job, he has plenty of confidence with Tracy at the helm once Mellen graduates. As the next man in line, Kasimatis said, Tracy is gaining very important experience.
“They are both great kids, both of them have my respect. They are the type of kids you just trust,” he said. “Any program would be lucky to have them.”