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SPOTLIGHT
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Game of the Week: Mote back under center for Sharon Springs

Published on -9/6/2012, 9:33 AM

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At the Buzzer No. 1

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Sharon Springs-Wallace County High School senior quarterback Gavin Mote enjoyed one of the better offensive games of his standout career in a season-opening 57-20 victory against Dighton.

Mote, in his fourth year as the Wildcats' starting signal caller, rushed 18 times for 140 yards and three scores. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns against no interceptions.

"Gavin did a great job of running the offense Friday night for the first night out," Wildcat coach Kevin Ayers said. "It's what I expected out of him. He has been in that spot for the last three years for us. He just came out and managed the game, made really nice reads, so I was pleased with his play."

The contest showed Mote's continued improvement and further burnished a resume few quarterbacks in Kansas can match. Mote's rushing total was the sixth 100-yard game in his career and the fourth-most yards he has recorded in a single game. His passer rating of 156, according to maxpreps.com, tied for the second-highest in his career (minimum two pass attempts). While the Wildcats, ranked No. 2 in the Eight-Man Division II statewide media poll, have plenty of experienced upperclassmen, no one has played more than Mote. Ayers, 131-25 overall with three state titles and 52-14 in his seventh year with Sharon Springs, couldn't recall having a quarterback who has started more games than Mote.

Sharon Springs (1-0) will play host to Hoxie (1-0) on Friday.

"He is definitely a great player," Hoxie coach Lance Baar said. "Just like so many of those (Sharon Springs) kids are. He is a good quarterback. He can pretty much do whatever you ask him to do, I think. He seems like a tough kid on film, so we will have to get after him."

Friday's passing performance showed Mote's passing improvement -- an area Ayers wanted to focus on. Mote had completed 44.4, 39.8 and 47.3 percent of his passes in his first three seasons. His yards per pass attempt has improved each fall, from 6.5 to 7.3 to 7.7 for an 8-2 team last year. For his career, Mote has completed 100 of 224 passes (47 percent) for 1,698 yards and 24 scores against 12 interceptions.

"Like to be a little more balanced and just more efficient in the passing game," Ayers said. "When we do throw the ball, we want to make yards and we want completions, so I just have to do a good job of getting us into situations where the pass is maybe unexpected and not just always throwing when you have to throw. Calling the offense is something that I have to do a better job of."

The 5-foot-7, 150-pound Mote took over halfway through his freshman year after Trevor Bieker suffered a concussion and knee injury. He helped an injury-riddled Wildcat team reach the playoffs and then delivered a solid performance in a first-round loss to Otis-Bison.

"At first, I felt a lot of pressure at once getting thrown in there, and having to lead the offense down the field, and try executing as well as I could be," Mote said. "But I had a lot of good seniors on the offensive corps that gave me encouragement and gave me tips as the year went along."

After a 7-3 season in 2009, Sharon Springs went 5-5 in 2010 before a three-win improvement last season. Mote, helped by Ayers, has understood coverages and his reads better in Sharon Springs' option look. Overall, Mote has 351 carries for 1,885 yards and 34 rushing scores. Defensively, Mote starts in the secondary and has 188 career tackles and seven interceptions.

"Coach Ayers is a very good coach," Mote said. "I don't think I could think of a better football coach to be playing for. He tells you what you are doing wrong, how you can improve, and he just wants you to drill it until you get it right. You get it right, you get it done. He shows you game film, and he has their defensive secondary broke down, so that you know come Friday, what kind of defensive formations they are going to be running."

In the summer before the 2011 season, Mote attended a high school quarterback camp in Greeley, Colo., and worked often on his footwork and throwing mechanics. The camp helped Mote produce a career-best 10/4 TD/INT ratio last season. This past summer, Mote often worked on footwork and throwing mechanics on his own.

"Helped to get my throwing mechanics to where they are now," he said.

Mote, first named a captain as a sophomore, has also talked with Ayers about leading more. The years of running Sharon Springs' offense has helped Mote anchor the squad.

"Just the maturity that comes physically and probably even more so mentally, just the maturity that comes in those game situations, having so many repetitions under his belt in pretty the same system, it's just a comfort level," Ayers said. "The game slows down for him. The more reps that you have back there, it just slows down, and he can make those reads and make those good choices."

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