ELMORE - A year ago, Woodmore's Tyler Rosenberger spent the entire football season working on his jump shot and low-post moves around the basket.
He worked to make himself become the top scoring threat in basketball in the Suburban Lakes League last season - and it worked. He averaged a league-best 18.7 points a game.
But this fall the basketball workouts have been put on hold since Rosenberger decided only days before Woodmore's first football practice that he wanted to play football in his senior year.
"Last year I wanted to concentrate more on basketball during this time," said Rosenberger, a 6-4, 180-pounder. "But going to the football games last year and seeing my friends play and all the success the football team had, it really got to me."
Rosenberger, who was a member of the football team as a freshman and sophomore, missed the camaraderie associated with wearing a helmet and pads. He missed the physical contact associated with the game. He wanted to trade in sitting in the stands for being back on the field. He wanted to contribute to Woodmore's cause in football one last time.
Woodmore coach Lou Bosh greeted Rosenberger back to the team with open arms. Rosenberger plugged a major void by coming in and filling the starting quarterback spot.
"He's coming along really well," Bosh said of Rosenberger. "He has a lot of athleticism. He's playing to his strengths with the personnel we have on offense."
Rosenberger was a starter for Bosh as a sophomore, but that was on defense as a safety. However, his time spent that season also included work as a backup quarterback. So although he hadn't played any football in over a year and saw limited playing time on offense as a sophomore, Rosenberger didn't take long to convince Bosh that he was the right person to start at QB this season.
"We knew the talent he had
and his athletic abilities, but we did not know when he would become comfortable playing again," Bosh said.
"Through our first two scrimmages he really played well and he did it with an efficiency that we knew he was going to be our quarterback."
Through five games Rosenberger has completed 63 of 119 passes for 924 yards and nine touchdowns. His strong arm and steadiness in the pocket have helped Woodmore (3-2, 2-0) contend again for a title.
He was a major offensive factor for the basketball team last winter, and has become the key player in football this fall.
It is no coincidence that the Wildcats altered an offensive game plan that emphasized the run for a more pass-friendly approach. Rosenberger often operates out of the shotgun in the Wildcats' pass-first, run-second spread-offense scheme.
"We've always had these plays in our offense," Bosh said. "We've just been more able to use this as our strength this year."
When Rosenberger decided to play he made up his mind that quarterback would be his position. However, he never thought he'd be called upon to pass as much as he has. He's on pace to complete more than 100 passes and throw for more than 1,800 yards and 18 touchdowns.
"It really kind of evolved into this offense as the season went on," Rosenberger said. "We've always talked about going to a spread offense, and by the third week of the season we were playing more shotgun and it pretty much has evolved from there."
Rosenberger's first love is basketball, which he hopes to play in college. But he said that risking injury by playing football has not been a concern.
"Somebody once told me if you go out and play as hard as you can and get injured, then it was meant to be," he said. "That's the way I look at it."
The Wildcats have improved offensively with each game. They produced a season-best 42 points in a 42-13 romp over Gibsonburg last week.
Rosenberger admits he was seriously "rusty" throwing a football when he returned to the sport, and it's taken time and plenty of repetitions throwing a football to adjust to passing from the pocket.
Rosenberger said working with an experienced group of wideouts, who started or saw ample playing time a year ago, has been beneficial to his growth as a quarterback.
"Right now I'm very comfortable and I have a lot of confidence in my teammates, particularly my receivers," he said. "I don't even have to throw a perfect pass and I know they'll go out and catch it."
A.J. Marquis, a 5-9, 140-pounder, leads the team with 22 catches for 306 yards, including two touchdowns. A returning starter, the senior already has more receptions and touchdowns halfway through this season than he did all last season.
"Without Tyler we would have probably stuck with our old offense," Marquis said. "He's a very good athlete and he does have a great arm and he can get it to you."
Eric McCarthy, a 6-1, 186-pounder, leads the team with five touchdowns, recording 10 catches for 246 yards.
McCarthy, who totaled only 17 catches and one touchdown in his junior season, didn't see the passing game becoming a priority before Rosenberger's arrival.
He approves of the move.
"I didn't think we'd run a spread offense and I didn't think we'd pass the ball as much as we have," McCarthy said. "But [Rosenberger] has shown a lot of leadership back there. The quarterback has to be the director of the offense, and he's done that well."
Derek Schlea also has helped Rosenberger along, with eight catches for 116 yards, and Jeremy Harpel (25 carries for 103 yards) and Eric Egert (46 carries for 214 yards) have been able to provide a consistent running attack.
The success the Wildcats have had offensively is a credit to all of the skill-position players and not just the strong-armed QB, according to Bosh.
"They've all allowed us to go to the spread offense with their abilities," Bosh said. "They've given us a strength where we are able to spread the field. They all have good hands and decent speed."
The Wildcats will be put to a major test tonight when they play at Otsego (5-0, 2-0).
"They're consistent on offense and they really attack you on defense," said Bosh of Otsego. "We will have to be really consistent against them."
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A year ago, Woodmore's Tyler Rosenberger spent the entire football season working on his jump shot and low-post moves around the basket.