By Jim Sullivan
---- — Amesbury quarterback Mac Short has a good thing going on right now. Not many quarterbacks get to lead a drive and tack on their own extra point.
“I just like being involved in every play,” Short said of being his own kicker. “It means a lot to me when I get to go and lead the team down the field and just finish it off after. I just like that feeling.”
Not only is it a good feeling for Short, but at the moment, he is the closest thing to a guarantee in high school football. Short hasn’t missed a field goal or a PAT since the beginning of last season, setting a school record along the way.
“He could kick the air out of the ball, he always could,” said Indians coach Thom Connors. “But now, he’s developed a real consistency in his approach. There’s not much more you could ask for.”
Rated the No. 2 kicker in the state over the summer, Short is also in the middle of a rebirth of sorts at QB. His Indians started the season 0-3, scoring only seven points a game against Triton (40-7), Pentucket (42-7) and Lynnfield (41-7). Things were looking bad for the Indians, but then something happened.
“After that Lynnfield game, we sat down and started to pick it up more in the locker room and became a little bit more serious,” said Short. “I think it was an attitude adjustment that we had to make. We started to come together as team. We’re more of a family (now) like last year when we started to be successful. Because, remember last year, we didn’t start off too hot either. Then, all of a sudden, it just kind of clicked, and we became more of a family and that’s when we started to be as productive as we are.”
The Indians hosted Hamilton-Wenham the next week and picked up their first win of the season, 20-13.
“That game, the attitude was completely different,” Short said. “We just came out with a lot of energy and a lot of confidence. We knew that it wasn’t going to be a blowout. It was going to be a tough, pound-and-ground kind of game. I think that we really needed to just wake up. After that win, our defense stepped up, our offensive production was where we needed it to be. That game set the tone for the next couple of games.”
Those next two games saw a real turnaround for the Indians, toppling Ipswich 35-14 and shutting out Georgetown 35-0. In that game, Short nailed his 55th straight kick.
“I really don’t think twice about it,” said Short, who is also Amesbury’s punter. “I just go out there and kick.”
The 5-foot-9, 190-pound senior is currently averaging just over 100 passing yards per game as a QB and 40 yards on the ground. His favorite targets are split end Pat Scanlon and running backs Ben Cullen and Ryan Foley.
“We have our fair share of running plays,” said Short. “In the last game against Georgetown, we only threw the ball once, but I had 110 yards rushing. It really all depends upon who we are going up against. (But) if I had to decide, I’d be a running quarterback.”
“He’s done a great job of leading the team every week,” Connors said. “He’s a real general in the huddle and obviously as a kicker, he’s been tremendous for us for the past couple of years. He’s fun to have around, he’s got a great personality. He gets it, and he’s been a real pleasure. He’s worked real hard at the quarterback position and he gets better every single week.”
Short isn’t willing to take too much credit for the team’s midseason emergence.
“It doesn’t necessarily come down to confidence in myself because I trust my teammates,” said Short. “I know they are going to do their job. I have a big offensive line, so I have plenty of time. And my running backs and my wide receivers, they just do it all themselves. All I have to do is just get them the ball, and they just go from there. I love being the quarterback for these guys.”
Now at 3-3 (3-1 in CAL Baker), the Indians will travel to Manchester Essex to face the 3-3 (2-2 CAL Baker) Hornets Friday night to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“Everyone is getting excited,” Short said. “We realize that we’ve got one more win to go, and then we’ve got to get going. We’ve got to pick it up a little bit, so everyone is getting excited in practice.”