a leader at QB

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 10, 2013

KANNAPOLIS — A.L. Brown head coach Mike Newsome reached back just a few years in NFL history and compared his current quarterback Andrew Ramirez to former Carolina Panthers signal-caller Jake Delhomme.
Jake Delhomme? Ramirez probably would prefer Joe Montana, but Newsome sticks with Delhomme.
“I kind of compare him to Delhomme because Andrew is a good leader doing a good job,” Newsome said. “He’s not the most gifted runner nor the most prolific passer, but he knows our offense inside and out.”
Ramirez became the Wonders’ starting quarterback earlier than expected when Kenan Medley was hurt in the eighth game of the 2012 season against Mount Pleasant.
“At that point, I knew I had to flip the switch and lead the team,” Ramirez said. “I have a very deep faith. That helped me get the job done.”
Ramirez stepped in and produced 1,000 aerial yards in his partial season, shining especially in a 41-34 overtime win against North Forsyth in the first round of the 3AA playoffs. His stats looked more like Cam Newton’s than Delhomme’s in that one — 20-for-28 for 301 yards and three TDs.
“Andrew came in when Medley got hurt, and all he did last year was win games for us — against really good opponents,” Newsome said. “People like to look at stats, and Andrew won’t always have huge stats, but he wins games.”
That’s continued in Ramirez’s senior year. He was a combined 17-for-24 passing in wins against strong 3A Weddington and 4A Berry. After managing a solid win over 4A North Meck, he turned in his strongest game of the year in last Friday’s 55-40 victory at Charlotte Vance.
Vance was the most talented 4A team the Wonders (5-1, 2-0 MECKA) have played to this point.
“People thinking Vance wasn’t what it was cracked up to be are off base,” longtime assistant coach Todd Hagler said. “Vance was as advertised. They were huge. They were fast. They were talented. Fortunately, Vance is young, and our guys played well.”
Ramirez, the Wonders’ offensive player of the week, had as much to do with Friday’s victory as anyone. He was 10-for-14 passing for 197 yards and two touchdowns.
“Vance is a very athletic team, and we knew we’d need a really good game from everyone to get a win,” Ramirez said. “We played smart and we played fast on offense. I was so proud of my teammates.”
That answer is typical of Ramirez, who is more comfortable talking about his teammates than himself. Ask him about Friday’s touchdown passes and he gives shoutouts to tight end Jonathan Bryant, who had his first TD reception, and wide receiver Johnny Delahoussaey, who produced his fifth of the season.
Ramirez’s 51-yard connection with Bryant came after the Wonders had fallen behind 7-0 in the opening minutes.
“I just got the ball to Jonathan when he was open, and then he made a really good run with it,” Ramirez said.
A 7-yard pass to Delahoussaey got the Wonders even at 34-all heading into halftime.
“That was on a quick slant,” Ramirez said. “I threw a pretty good ball, but that was mostly just Johnny coming up big again.”
Newsome is the first to admit he holds his quarterbacks to a high standard. It’s paid off. Ramirez, 6 feet, 185 pounds, has completed 55 percent of his passes for 779 yards, and sophomore Damon Johnson has produced four more TD passes on just 13 throws.
“No one here gets gotten on more by me than Andrew,” Newsome said. “But he’s a guy you can coach.”
Ramirez made one serious mistake in Friday’s game.
“I made a real bad read and threw a pick,” Ramirez said. “But I can’t ever hang my head. When I have a bad moment, it’s important that I stay positive. I’ve got teammates looking at me.”
Newsome agreed with that statement.
“When he threw the pick, Andrew comes to the sideline and he already understands the mistake he made,” Newsome said. “He keeps his head, he puts that mistake behind him, and he goes back out there and makes plays to win the ballgame.”
Sort of like Delhomme did in that against-all-odds 2003 season when the Panthers reached the Super Bowl.
“We all realize very tough games are still out there,” Ramirez said. “But I believe in my coaches and I believe in my teammates.”
So far, so good.