A brief meeting of the Plymouth football team's Mutual Admiration Society convened Tuesday afternoon toward the end of practice.
Members present: quarterback Shaun Austin; and wide-outs Brennen Beyer, Jake Morris, Thomas Afetian and Nate Emminger.
If you witnessed Plymouth's 27-7 victory over Saline, you can understand why the receivers have grown fond of Austin, and he of them.
The junior gun-slinger torched the Hornets' secondary by completing 14 of 19 passes.
Eight different 'Cats caught passes.
"Shaun has stepped up big-time for us this year," said Morris, a two-year starter who hauled in three spirals for 30 yards on Saturday. "We had no idea until late in the pre-season that he was going to be our quarterback this year. He had to beat out a senior and he's done a great job since the first day. He puts the ball right where we want it."
The "it" had barely left Morris's mouth before Austin fired back a few compliments of his own.
"They all make me look good," he said, gesturing toward his four aerial-attack comrades. "It's fun throwing the ball to them. I just have to throw it close to them and they'll come down with it."
Although Austin makes it sound relatively easy, constructing an effective passing attack requires pain-staking practice and precision from everyone involved.
"Route-running is huge," said Afetian, who along with Emminger serves as the team's Wes Welker-like possession guy. "If you're supposed to run a 12-yard route, and you cut it off at 10, it messes everything up."
"It's time-consuming at first to learn everything," Austin said of Plymouth's offense. "But the guys all do a great job of putting in a lot of time to get it down. After a while, you know it like the back of your hand."
Beyer and Morris are the team's deep threats, combining above-average height with above-average speed.
"All four of these receivers are good because they do what they're coached to do," said Plymouth head coach Mike Sawchuk. "They block well when they're supposed to block. They run precise routes. When you do that, you should be open.
"They also know that even if the ball is not supposed to come to them, they still need to run their routes because you never know what can happen if the play breaks down. They're all very coachable."
Emminger and Morris both double as defensive backs, roles that help them when they're going out for passes.
"When I'm running my routes at the defensive backs, I know what they're thinking," said Emminger, a sophomore who was promoted to the varsity squad following Plymouth's 36-0 loss to Canton on Oct. 8. "A lot of times, I know how they're going to come out of their break."
Sawchuk said Austin's emergence as a top-notch signal-caller has been a key to the Wildcats' recent success.
"He's so intelligent and calm," said Sawchuk. "He got a little rattled during the Canton game, but he brushed it off and has been great ever since."
Ed Wright can be reached at (734) 453-1980 or email@example.com.
Jake Morris goes high to bring down a Shaun Austin pass during the Oct. 8 game against Canton. (photo courtesy of PlymouthPictures.com)
Thomas Afetian is an effective underneath receiver for the Wildcats' offense. (Ed Wright photo)