Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By Bill Stewart
Ben Lucas, like most senior athletes, isn’t ready for the end.
LEADING THE WAY: Cony quarterback Ben Lucas, center, will lead the Rams against rival Gardiner on Friday night in Augusta.
Staff photo / Michael G. Seamans
15 — Victories as Cony starting quarterback
6,501 — Career passing yards
72 — Career touchdowns
2,204 — Passing yards this season
555 — Passing yards needed to break Cony single season record he set last year
27 — Career interceptions
The hulking Cony High School quarterback knows it’s coming, like a rolling wave about to crash.
“I don’t want it to be over,” said Lucas, as a smile faded from his face. “It’s gone by too fast. I just want it to keep going.”
When one of the best quarterbacks in Cony history plays his final game sometime this fall, the 6-foot-4, 227-pound Lucas will reflect on a legacy he’s worked hard to create and then decide his collegiate future he’s worked even harder to plan.
But that’s for some other day, at some other time.
Today, Lucas and his high-powered Rams (5-2) will prepare for rival Gardiner (0-7) before they embark on a playoff odyssey they hope ends with a Gold Ball at Alfond Stadium in Orono later next month.
“We have lofty expectations,” Lucas said. “But you know what? We feel we can accomplish them. We want it pretty bad. This is a goal a lot of us have had in sight for awhile.”
Lucas will graduate as one of the most prolific passers in Maine history. He’s thrown for 6,501 yards and 72 touchdowns in his career. Lucas has thrown for 2,204 yards and 24 touchdowns this season. He has six interceptions this season, and 27 for his career.
Former Winthrop quarterback Lee St. Hilaire is believed to hold the state record with 8,019 passing yards and 84 touchdowns.
St. Hilaire, a four-year starter, played in 43 games — going 36-7. Lucas will play in his 28th game Friday night at Alumni Field. The Rams are 15-12 in games he’s started, including 13-5 the last two seasons.
“Ben probably won’t reach the numbers St. Hilaire put up, but he’s still one of the best quarterbacks we’ve ever seen,” Cony coach Robby Vachon said. “Statistically, he’ll go down as one of the best. It’s a tough question — is he the best? — because you just don’t see quarterbacks throw as much as we do. But from a pure throwing standpoint, he’s certainly the very best who’s ever played here.”
Not bad, considering the 17-year-old Lucas didn’t take his first snap as a quarterback until eighth grade.
Lucas started playing football in second grade, and he primarily played wide receiver/running back. Things changed in eighth grade. Starting quarterback Jonathan Saban suffered an injury during the season opener and coaches called on Lucas to finish the game.
“In the second game I became the starter,” Lucas said, “and I kind of took it from there. They threw me in there and I kind of stuck.”
The following year, as a freshman, Lucas caught the attention of Vachon and the rest of the Cony coaching staff.
“We got wind of him and right out of the gate the first thing that jumped out at you was the size,” Vachon said. “We started him as a sophomore. We just thought as long as he could progress and develop he could become a quarterback and not just a big, physical kid.”
Lucas struggled a bit his sophomore season. Although he completed 110 of his 221 passes for 1,539 yards and 16 touchdowns, Lucas struggled to read defenses, go through his progressions and find the open receiver. The Rams finished 2-7.
“He started real young and he made mistakes young players make,” said senior wide receiver John Bennett. “But we knew what we had.”
Added senior Isaac Gingras, who’s been Lucas’ center since middle school: “You could always see the potential. It was there. He had the build and strength. We knew he’d be really, really good.”
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