Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

DELAY OF GAME | Senior Mike Welcer Waits His Turn to Play QB ... Then Leads Rams Back to the Playoffs

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

DELAY OF GAME | Senior Mike Welcer Waits His Turn to Play QB ... Then Leads Rams Back to the Playoffs

Article excerpt

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RIVERVIEW

SARASOTA -- Knowing he'd be the Riverview Rams' starting quarterback this season, Mike Welcer used every available means to prepare.

In the offseason he ran track and competed on the Rams' weightlifting team. Welcer worked with Riverview offensive coordinator Josh Smithers, and sessions with assistant Torry Johnson sharpened his skills as trigger of the team's option attack.

Welcer would arrive at the school on weekends to run and practice throwing his routes. He did the running himself. As for the hands required to catch his passes, Welcer's dad provided them.

"He would run routes and I would throw to him," Welcer said. "I would tell him where to go. I think he's 57 and he can still run, he can still catch. He's the person who's got the best hands, in my opinion."

Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the Rams' 9-1 season, a campaign that continues Friday night at home with a regional semifinal game against Orlando Dr. Phillips.

But none have been more consequential, it could be argued, than the hands belonging to the 18-year-old Welcer, who patiently waited behind Dom Caldwell for his chance to step in under center.

He played some tight end last season as a junior, but when he did enter the game at quarterback, it was to operate the Rams' "cheetah" package.

"That was my cue to go in and run the

option," he said. Welcer threw perhaps four times all year. He caught one pass from Caldwell early in the season, another later on.

Through it all, Welcer stayed committed to the Rams' program, and that he did reflected an old-school value admired by head coach Todd Johnson.

"To be honest, he's a guy that a lot of times in today's society, he would have upped and left," Johnson said. "A lot of kids like him would have upped and left because he would have felt he could have started at quarterback somewhere else.

"But he trusted the process and knew if he worked hard enough and kept with it, that good things would happen to him, and it's been fun to see him have the success that he has."

As Welcer himself said, he's merely a 6-foot-1, 190-pound piece that fits into the Rams' offense, but no one before the season could have imagined how comfortable that fit would be. …

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