CLEARWATER — Blake Gomez has been labeled the manager of Clearwater Central Catholic’s conservative offense, as if he shuffles around the huddle counting wins, not really doing much to contribute to them.
Marauders coach John Davis does not like that label.
“Usually when you say a quarterback can manage a game, that means (he’s not very good),” Davis said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth with Blake. He’s a pretty dang good player.”
The caretaker Gomez, a junior in his first year as a varsity starter, is taking snaps for a team that has won 10 straight games and is playing in the Class 3A region finals for the first time since 2008.
And, yes, he is making significant contributions.
Gomez has thrown for 1,063 yards and nine touchdowns. He also has run for three scores.
“I’m just trying to make the most of the chances we have when we throw the ball,” Gomez said. “And I’m trying to eliminate the mistakes that will kill a drive.”
The Marauders will not apologize for their offense. They are a team shaped by defense and not the least bit defensive about it. After all, CCC has recorded a county-best and school-record seven shutouts and allowed just 2.87 yards per play.
CCC’s offense intends to combine the relatively mistake-free football it has played so far ‑— 12 turnovers in 11 games — with the often overlooked ball control it has displayed with consistency. Time of possession is not the sexiest statistic, but the Marauders have been among the best at holding the ball because they are averaging more than 200 yards rushing per game.
“We feel like we can move the ball pretty well,” Davis said. “And if we don’t turn the ball over, we have a pretty good chance to win each week.”
Whether or not CCC gets a single explosive play, a bunch of them or implodes is largely up to Gomez, who took over as the starter after starring as the junior varsity quarterback.
“I was ecstatic to know I was going to be the starting quarterback this season,” Gomez said. “It’s a reward for all the hard work that I put into it.”
With 11 games of varsity experience, Gomez is more poised and confident. But Davis still has put a premium on his quarterback to be an error-free, rather than a carefree, playmaker.
Gomez has obliged by throwing just two interceptions and not losing a fumble.
“The biggest thing Blake has done is not make the quarterback mistakes that cost you games,” Davis said. “And that’s been a big reason why we’ve been so successful.”
Bob Putnam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.