PERRY TWP. Head coach Jeff Lindesmith never intended for Central Catholic to throw the football more often than not this season.
Through, two games, though, the Crusaders have proven they are really good at it.
With Austin Beck at quarterback and a talented group of receivers to throw to, Central already has rolled up 616 passing yards this season. The Crusaders have thrown the ball 16 more times than they have handed it off. Overall, the passing game has accounted for just over 83 percent of their total offense.
“We have the ability,” Lindesmith said. “I think our skill kids were probably our strength coming in. Have we thrown it more? Stats-wise you can tell, but we still like to have a balanced attack.”
The opponents Central faced the first two weeks resulted in it placing a bigger emphasis on the passing game. Perry and Norwayne have defensive lines averaging almost 290 pounds.
“There’s not a lot of space for us to move people, so we thought there would be an opportunity for us to pass the ball a little bit,” Lindesmith said.
Central has five players with at least six catches. Chase Miller remains the Crusaders’ featured running back, but he also will line up as a slot receiver. He has a team-leading 170 yards receiving and three touchdown catches.
Vinny DiRuzza leads Central with 10 catches. He and Riley Campbell have the other touchdown receptions.
“We think our skill kids can run,” Lindesmith said. “They’re pretty intelligent with the cuts they’re doing. Our quarterback is a pretty accurate kid.
“We’re not trying to (throw the ball). We have the first couple of games because of what the defense is doing. We hope that kind of opens up the run game a little bit more.”
Beck completed passes to nine different receivers in Friday’s 35-0 win over Norwayne. DiRuzza caught a 31-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter and finished with six receptions for 106 yards.
What Beck and his offense has done so far has been, as he puts it, “a blast.”
“I have to thank Coach for trusting me and letting me sling it around a little,” Beck said. “I trust my wideouts a lot. They run their routes unbelievably well. My line gives me time so I can make those throws. I couldn’t do it without my teammates.”
Beck is an efficient 45-of-62 passing for 607 yards this season. He has thrown all five touchdown passes and has been intercepted just once.
A standout cornerback who led Stark County in interceptions last year, Beck has successfully tackled his added role.
“He’s an awfully good defensive back and just an intense football player who loves to compete,” Lindesmith said. “I think his knowledge of the secondary from playing there the last couple of years has really helped him.”
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