Learn with patience and play with tempo. It’s a delicate football balance for NorthWood’s work-in-progress offense.
Nate Andrews, head coach of the Panthers, deliberated all offseason before putting the ball in the hands of Travis Bear, a senior who has started at wideout the last two seasons, but who now runs the show at quarterback.
"It’s only been a couple of weeks ... we kind of messed around with him early in the summer,” Andrews said Friday, Aug. 29, “and were not sure we wanted to make that commitment because he’s such a good receiver.”
So far, it’s worked out well. NorthWood has gone on the road and won twice, including Friday night’s 46-0 romp over a young Fairfield squad. Bear was just that — a bear. He flipped a couple of long scoring passes to Braxton Linville, passed for 214 on only seven completions, ran for 76 yards and, defensively, returned a fumble for a touchdown.
Not a bad night’s work. But Bear’s checklist was far from complete.
"As a quarterback, I love running the offense, it’s something I really enjoy,” Bear said. “At wide receiver it’s hard to be a leader, but from a quarterback position, it’s very easy to do. And it’s easy to be a leader with such great guys.”
“He has to learn every position, not just one position,” Andrews said. “That’s the most difficult thing right now.”
Bear’s acceptance of Andrews’ challenge to be a leader was a no-brainer.
"It was an easy decision,” Bear said. “They said that this is the best thing for our offense and there’s no doubt in my mind it’s what I wanted to do.”
Against the Falcons, Bear didn’t dominate, but was clearly in control. He ran well out of formation, took off downfield smartly when pass protection broke down, and put the ball in the hands of many wide-open receivers for big gains.
He delivered hard hits from both sides of the ball.
"We think he can do some things out there and take pressure off of people,” Andrews said. “Once we get the ball in his hands as many times as we can, hopefully he becomes more poised and learns the offense and can spread the ball out. He’s coming.”
Getting a little better each week is the goal. So far, Bear is on target on many platforms.
"Travis has got to be the guy to keep his composure on everything,” Andrews said. “He’s a fiery guy who likes to get out there and compete.”