By Brian Eller -- email@example.com
WOODSTOCK -- In the offseason, Matt Sherfey was faced with a tough decision.
The Central High School quarterback wanted to increase his strength and talents for football, but in order to do so, would have to sacrifice his baseball season for the Falcons. It was not a choice that came easily to him, Sherfey said, but with his team off to a 2-0 start, it seems the junior made the right choice.
"I went back and forth on it," Sherfey said, "and I couldn't really make a decision. Then I just decided my heart wasn't into [baseball]. I wanted to focus on football, change this program and this is what I needed to do."
Change the program he has, at least two weeks into the season. For the first time in four years Central High School football is undefeated after two games, and confidence is riding high for Sherfey and his teammates.
Last year the Falcons struggled to a 1-9 record, with their only win coming against Strasburg in the second week of the season. The defense had its share of problems, allowing more than 30 points per game, while the offense scored double digits just four times. Central head coach Mike Yew admitted that while his players were often outsized playing Group AA ball, the results on the scoreboard were tough to take at times.
"For as hard as we played the last four years, it's still tough knowing that you're outsized and you don't have the same number of kids on the sideline," Yew said. "You go to Sherando and they're dressing the likes of 85 kids and you've got 40. It can be demoralizing, and I think this year they've come in and maybe just feel like things are on more of a level playing field, and they have a little more confidence."
This season the Falcons are playing Group A football, a shift both Yew and Sherfey said helped with the size and number of players. Through two games, however, it's the play of Sherfey that has been the key factor for the offense.
Last spring, on days when Sherfey was used to playing on the diamond for Central, the junior was busy lifting weights and throwing a football, in order to enhance his skills as a quarterback. Last Friday, that effort put forth in the offseason began to show, as the Falcons shut out Strasburg 22-0. Sherfey completed 11 passes for 257 yards and a touchdown in the win.
"I really believe that hard work does pay off," Sherfey said. "I decided just to focus on football this spring and summer, and lifted and threw the football constantly, and it's starting to pay off. I'm glad how it has started to pay off, and starting 2-0 shows that it has."
In addition to leading his team with his arm, Sherfey is one of the most vocal members for the Falcons, delving out advice to his teammates at practice, and, in turn, receiving respect. Sherfey's teammates look up to him so highly, in fact, he was named a team captain as a junior, a feat rarely achieved by underclassmen.
"It means a lot, especially as a junior because it's so unlikely for a junior to do that," Sherfey said. "I was kind of expecting to be captain, but I wasn't going to be disappointed if I didn't. I'm glad my teammates have that faith in me to be a leader, and it's something I'm going to do."
And while the responsibility of leading the team and running the offense is on Sherfey's shoulders, it's Yew's job to make sure his players focus on their goals. Despite his team's 2-0 record, Yew said at times his job is to remind his players that the season is a long one, and that while starting out 2-0 is a good step toward their goal of winning their district, there's still a lot of room for improvement.
"You have to reinforce what they're doing," Yew said. "We're trying not to break our routine. We try to stay business as usual, come in on Monday and do our thing. We've been consistent two weeks in a row and we're starting off the same this week, so just stay on our path and continue the way we've been going."