NEWBURYPORT — When Michael Shay is asked to give a scouting report of himself, the latest Newburyport quarterback talks about his running ability for a few sentences before getting to the part that typically separates Newburyport’s quarterback from others in the Cape Ann League.
“I can throw when I need to,” Shay said.
What? A Newburyport quarterback who will only throw when he needs to?
Shay is set to break the mold of the prototypical Newburyport quarterback when he lines up behind center for the Clippers’ opener at Lynnfield tomorrow at 11 a.m. The Clippers will switch to an option rushing attack after years of running a pro-style passing offense under the likes of quarterbacks such as Joe Clancy, Ryan O’Connor and Connor Wile.
Clancy, who started from 2006-08, is now the quarterback at Merrimack College, where he led the nation in passing yards per game last season. O’Connor, who started in 2009 and 2010, was a state-champion pitcher at Newburyport High before continuing his baseball career at Bentley University. Wile, who started in 2011 and 2012, broke the program record for single-season passing yards as a junior.
Shay is the first Newburyport quarterback since the start of the Clancy era who will look to run first.
“We’re going to keep the ball in his hands more on running plays,” Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano said. “We’ll let him make decisions in the running game with the option. The guys we’ve had in the past are drop-back guys. That’s not to say we won’t get to that eventually, but it might be down the road.”
Shay, a junior, flashed his athletic ability last spring as a sophomore lacrosse player under Gaudiano. He finished as one of Newburyport’s top scorers. He capped the season by scoring nine goals in a playoff game against Norwell.