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Doscher to start opener for Wagner
Ask Walt Hameline about the decision to start freshman and Moore Catholic HS product Nick Doscher at quarterback in tomorrow’s season opener against Stonehill, then stand back.
You are about to be verbally overwhelmed by words like ability, maturity, poise, strength and composure.
And that’s just for starters.
“He’s an older guy who just seems to make things happen,” is Hameline’s nutshell assessment of his 22-year-old, just-back-from-the-minor-leagues signal-caller.
“Some kids just have it,” adds Hameline, who is looking to rebound from a disastrous 3-8 season on Grymes Hill. “Nick is one of them.”
At least, that’s what the Wagner coaching staff is counting on in handing the reins to the rugged former Kansas City Royals farmhand, who spent four seasons as a catcher after being drafted in the eighth round of the 2005 draft.
They’re hopeful that Doscher, winner of the 2004 Fabbri Award as Staten Island’s top HS football player, can step right into the leadership role for a program hurt badly by injuries last season, particularly on offense.
The view is the versatile Doscher has the ability to manage a more open and aggressive offensive scheme because of his run-and-throw abilities.
And that his experience in the minor leagues can only help.
One thing’s for certain. Doscher’s more than ready for the challenge.
“I’m so excited that I have to remind myself to keep everything in check,” he said this week. “I can’t wait to get out there.”
And not having played in a real football game since November 2004, when his Moore team lost the CHSFL AA title game to Holy Cross?
Well, it’s an issue.
“At first the speed of the game at this level gets your attention,” says Doscher, who lost 15 pounds in the first month at Wagner, and played well during spring ball. “But I’ve been working my way back, and I know I have to be calm out there. I feel ready.”
At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, with a strong arm and enough quickness to turn a corner, Doscher has all the physical tools.
“He’s super-competitive,” said Hameline, in his 29th season on Grymes Hill.
That last part was an absolute necessity just to win the job. Doscher beat out junior veterans Tyler Newberry and Adam Farnsworth for the starting assignment.
“We’re lucky enough to have three legitimate college quarterbacks, right now,” Hameline said.
The Seahawks also have a solid runner in senior Shane Smith, who gained 639 yards last year despite hamstring issues.
And after last season’s particularly bad injury run, the offensive line, anchored by 315-pound Matt Martin, is back and beginning to mesh.
Same for the defensive secondary, where strong safety Stefan Gage leads a group backing up the front four, spearheaded by fifth-year senior Joe Harkins.
Last season’s injuries produced personnel shuffling, and with it an eye-popping negative-14 takeaway/giveaway ratio.
That’s the type of stat that is difficult to overcome and was, Hameline feels, the main reason for his worst record since taking over the Seahawk program in 1981.
“You can’t be good without continuity,” pointed out Wagner’s head coach, who is 189-105-2 at the only head job he’s ever had. “I’m hoping we stay healthy enough to have that.”
Stonehill (0-1), which beat Wagner 14-13 in last year’s season opener – and is coached by former Curtis HS and Boston University star and San Francisco 49ers assistant Robert Talley – will test the Seahawks with a spread offense and pressure 4-3 defense.
“They’re good,” said Hameline of the Skyhawks, keyed by versatile and explosive running back Eddie Vachon. “We’re going to have to be better than we’ve been.”
Any improvement is likely to start with Doscher, who was 19-2 in his final two high school seasons.
“You need playmakers in this game,” Hameline said. “I think we found one.”
By Cormac Gordon, SILive