Minteer making own mark

By Brad Fauber

STEPHENS CITY — Patrick Minteer has heard the murmuring.

How could Sherando’s junior quarterback possibly replace the void left by the graduation of former standout Reid Entsminger, who led the Warriors to a Group 4A state championship appearance last season?

It’s a question that perhaps many had asked in the weeks leading up to start of the 2014 season, but the thing is, Minteer isn’t worried about filling anyone’s shoes. He’s focused on the only real question that matters to him right now — how can he improve week in and week out to give the Warriors the best chance to win?

Minteer’s answer to that question has always been in his preparation. As Sherando head coach Bill Hall tells it, Minteer has an insatiable appetite for consuming game film, and Minteer spent two years as Entsminger’s understudy while quarterbacking the Warriors’ JV squad, getting ready for the moment when he would be handed the reins of Sherando’s offense.

Minteer earned that opportunity this season, but it wasn’t until he led the Warriors to a 60-7 romping of Washington (West Virginia) in Sherando’s third game of the season last Friday night that Minteer cemented in his own mind his capabilities as Sherando’s signal caller.

“I thought it was a great motivational, moral victory for me because all offseason it’s always been, ‘Well, how are you going to replace Reid? How are you going to do that? You’re not as fast as he is. You’re not as strong as he is.’ So I’ve spent hours and hours just watching film all the time, thinking ‘well, I can do that,'” Minteer said following practice on Wednesday. “On Friday it was definitely like ‘OK, I can actually, really do this.’ So I think it’s a good moral victory for the rest of the season.”

Coming off a forgettable offensive performance two weeks ago in a loss to West Virginia powerhouse Martinsburg in which the Warriors mustered all of 60 yards on offense, Minteer efficiently orchestrated drive after drive for Sherando last Friday.

Minteer, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Male Athlete of the Week for Sept. 7-13, attempted just seven passes against the Patriots, but he completed six of them for 180 yards and four touchdowns.

It was just the type of game Minteer needed. He said he’s noticed that he’s now less “antsy” in the pocket and he has confidence in his ability to stretch the field with his arm. But Minteer also discovered plenty worth fixing while poring over the game film.

“Now that I watched it, I missed a couple things, but they were just little things,” said Minteer, who has completed 28 of 40 passes for 472 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception this season. “Nothing that was really big, but definitely things I can work on with footwork, and maybe I made a wrong read but I still got the pass. Now that I look back on it I can make it better in practice.”

Even with that supposed poor footwork and those perceived bad reads, Minteer still looked pretty good against the Patriots.

His first pass attempt of the night went to senior receiver Josh Ojo, who was wide open on a streak down the hash and hauled in the catch for a 61-yard touchdown strike. Minteer’s second pass went to senior Adam Whitacre for a 29-yard score, while his third attempt resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell Shiley, giving Minteer three scoring tosses in the first quarter.

Minteer’s seventh and final pass attempt of the night went back to Ojo for a 35-yard touchdown strike that gave Sherando a 41-0 lead with three minutes to go in the first half. Minteer and the rest of the Warriors’ first team sat out the entire second half.

Minteer credited Hall with noticing a change in Washington’s defensive coverage after Sherando burned the Patriots with a few big pass plays, but Hall said Minteer’s ability to execute the game plan was a direct by-product of the junior’s off-field work ethic.

“It’s a credit to him that he’s put in the time. He watches a lot of film on his own in addition to the film that we watch during the day, so I think he’s ready for the moment,” Hall said. “I don’t want to say it’s easy, but he’s comfortable in the moment. … Preparation is what makes you comfortable, and he’s prepared.”

The fact that all of that preparation has paid off so far for Minteer may be the most encouraging thing for the junior quarterback, who had to beat out Ojo and junior Dylan Rivers for the starting quarterback job in the offseason.

“I’ve been very thankful for everything, especially with coach Hall because he’s given me so many opportunities over the offseason and to come up to varsity [last season] a couple times to watch Reid and how he did things. The hard work has definitely paid off,” Minteer said.

“I didn’t feel like it was my job to lose. I thought it was my job to get it. Especially when they brought Dylan up, I thought maybe they don’t want me. I’ve really got to bust my butt to go after what I want because I’ve stood in the cold behind Reid. I’ve done everything [Hall has] asked me to do. It was definitely exciting when I got the job because I’ve spent so many hours of just constant working all the time.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com