Athlete of the Week: Duckworth has breakout game for Rams

Ethan Duckworth

STRASBURG – Strasburg football coach Mark Roller has been waiting for senior quarterback Ethan Duckworth to have a breakout game and last Friday night it happened.

Duckworth completed 13 of 16 pass attempts for 190 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-14 victory over James Wood.

“I know he’s been throwing a better ball this year and his decisions are a lot better,” Roller said. “I think that was the game that he needed to get his confidence up. It’s just good for him to have that breakout game, because I think in the long run not only is it going to benefit him but it’s going to benefit us as a team.”

Duckworth said that last week in practice he had to throw 10 passes on the same route, and for every time he missed on a pass attempt the team had to run a 40-yard dash. He said he made six out of 10, and it helped him with his confidence going into the game against James Wood.

“I was relaxed,” Duckworth said of how he felt during the game. “I was actually thinking about what I was doing. The previous games I was just kind of timid and wasn’t really sure what I was doing. I kind of thought about what I was doing.”

Roller said the drive right before the half was impressive from Duckworth as he made several really good throws.

Duckworth, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Athlete of the Week for the week of Sept. 12-18, threw an 11-yard touchdown pass into a tiny opening in the defense to Trevor Taff with 15 seconds left in the half.

“Even watching it on film I’m not sure how he got that football in there, but he cut it loose and drilled it in there,” Roller said. “And Trevor got his feet down. That was kind of a big-time throw there. … It gave me a little bit more confidence calling plays for him too.”

Last year Duckworth started one game, but saw limited behind Adam Miller, who has since transferred to Sherando.

Duckworth said he enjoyed any playing time he could get last year after missing most of his sophomore season due to a ruptured kidney. He said it was a tough experience to go through.

“Two months was definitely a long time. It was rough. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even hardly sit up half the time,” Duckworth said. “I wasn’t allowed to contract my chords, so I had to kind of lay flat most of the time.”

He said his doctors told him he wouldn’t be able to play football again, but he healed a lot better than expected and has had no problems since then.

Duckworth threw for 79 yards last season on 8 for 15 passing. This season he is 25 for 45 for 358 yards with four touchdown passes and only one interception.

Roller said the biggest difference from last year to this year has been Duckworth’s decision making.

Duckworth said that he’s learned to read defenses a lot better and that’s helped him a lot.

“Last year I had no idea how to read a defense. I just couldn’t do it,” he said. “This year I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better at it.”

Duckworth also plays at defensive end for the Rams, and said he enjoys playing on both sides of the ball.

He said he also enjoys lifting weights. He said he tries to lift weights as much as he can.

“I like the challenge,” Duckworth said. “If I could have weight lifting for every class of the day I would do it.”

Duckworth also wrestles and finished third in the Group 2A state meet at 160 pounds last year. He said he thinks playing both sports helps, and said last week he tackled the quarterback by making a wrestling move to get to him.

The Rams are now 3-1 and Duckworth said he feels like the team has a lot of potential to have a really good season.

He said being a senior this year has helped motivate him even more.

“It’s pushed me a lot – that it’s my senior year,” Duckworth said. “It could be my last year playing football ever. So it’s really pushed me to do better in practice and games.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137, ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com.