By Jim Sullivan
---- — AMESBURY -- Some might say that the Amesbury football team made it to this year’s Cape Ann League Division 3A semifinal on the foot of junior Mac Short, and those people would be right.
Short, a junior, booted the two field goals that were the difference in the Thanksgiving Day game 13-10 victory against rival Newburyport Thursday that won the Indians the CAL Division 3 title, and guaranteed them at least one more game early next week.
“We haven’t kicked a field goal all year except for yesterday,” says Indians coach Thom Connors. “So he comes up perfect for the PATs, and we weren’t concerned about the (field goals). He made the difference.”
Indeed, Short has been perfect with extra-point attempts, going 34 for 34 this season. But that perfection didn’t come right away. Short had some difficulty dialing in during his sophomore year.
“Last year he struggled. He got inside his own head,” says Connors. “And this year he had a maturity level and (matched) the experience, that’s just gigantic.”
“Last year I let everything get to my head. I was a nut, pretty much.” laughs Short. “Now I just go out there with a clear mind, and just think of the ball going through the uprights.”
Short has found himself in the zone this year, with a clarity he has never had before. Normally this is a phenomena that strikes a player in his senior year, but Short has struck his concentration gold as a junior.
“Sophomore year, I was a little immature, so I was little more goofy,” says Short. “I didn’t get the importance of it just yet. And (at the end of) last year, seeing how important it was to the seniors, I think I finally got it.”
That jump in maturity has also translated into Short’s academic career as well, enrolling himself in his first honors class this school year.
“It wasn’t necessarily that the atmosphere changed or anything like that,” Short says. “It’s just my own personal attitude changed. Last year, I would think, ‘Oh my gosh. The whole town of Amesbury is looking at me. I’ve got to make this for my team.’ I really did just soak up all the pressure, and it really did get to me. But this year, the only thing I’m thinking of is just doing my job.”
Every player doing his job is something the Indians are stressing this year but, according to Connors, Short still has his moments.
“My son (Tommy) is the kicker,” confesses Connors. “And (Short) will be out there before a kick, saying, ‘It’s only a kick ... It’s only a kick ... Just kick the ball.’ And then he celebrates and says some funny things after the kick. He’s a character.”
Along with being a character, Short is also the Indians’ backup quarterback, and Connors says he wouldn’t miss a beat if he had to fill in for starting quarterback Matt Talbot.
“He runs the ball well. He throws the ball pretty well,” says Connors. “Unfortunately he’s behind Matt (Talbot) as a quarterback. But Shorty is right there.”
Short says he and the rest of the Indians will be ready to face one of the only two teams to beat them in the regular season, Lynnfield on Tuesday.
“We’re going to do this together,” says Short. “I have confidence in my team. We’ll battle it out together.”
Connors knows that when and if the moment comes, Short will be there, doing his job for him.
“As a kid, he’s a lot of fun and tough as nails,” says Connors. “You can’t knock him down. He’s been a great asset to this football team. He’s playing with confidence and he kicks the ball with confidence. He knows when we’re calling on him, we’re calling on him to win the game, and that’s what he’s going to do.”