The art of the passing game has evolved throughout the years in high school football.
Fans and analysts used to look at the percentage of run versus pass and a staggering advantage went to the ground game. Not so much anymore.
Although a handful of teams continue to display their ground-and-pound system, more teams have decided to open up their game and take advantage of their skill players sprinting down the field.
A perfect example of how this change has occurred is happening right now with the members of the Beaver Area football team.
Under the tutelage of 14th year head coach Jeff Beltz, the Bobcats relied on the run game in the past but have shifted their focus to a more dynamic way of scoring -- something they have done a lot of this year.
Three of the players responsible for their shift in power are seniors Alex Rowse, Kresten Wallace and Dylan Goff.
Rowse, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound senior, landed the starting quarterback job after Week 5 of his junior year and soon started to make a connection with his classmate, Wallace (5-11, 165), at receiver.
Up until this year Goff, a 6-0, 185-pound senior, primarily played on the defensive side of the ball, but his stature gave the Bobcats a huge advantage over opposing cornerbacks and the mismatch was too good to ignore.
"He is a bigger body guy so he does give us some options," Beltz said. "It is just evolution. He is a guy who worked hard and if you have a good work ethic, things usually work out well for high school athletes."
On the season, Goff has 20 receptions for 295 yards and six touchdowns. By adding Wallace's numbers of 26 receptions for 504 yards and seven touchdowns, the wide receiver duo make up for nearly half of the touchdown passes thrown by Rowse.
Rowse has put up impressive numbers through six games this season, completing 106 of 145 attempts for 1,581 yards and 27 touchdowns compared to only two interceptions.
"We did have elements of the spread in our concepts before this year," Beltz said. "The natural progression was to make it a full-time move. It suited the type of athletes that we have."
It is hard to believe that this is the first year that the trio has worked together, but with every game, they have increased their chemistry with each other, and the results have shown on the field.
"I think just getting use to each other and playing you see the progression," Beltz said. "It is a work in progress and the fact that they were able grasp the concept with such fluidity is a testament to them."
The Bobcats are 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the Midwestern Athletic Conference and are second in the conference to Aliquippa in scoring with 275 points, calculating out to 45.8 points per game.
The Bobcats had a list of goals they wanted to accomplish before the end of the season and Beltz knows if it wasn't for the play of his team as a whole, they wouldn't be where they are.
"I don't know if they set some individual ones, but there are large team goals and we need those guys to be productive for us to reach our goal," Beltz said. "Without their productivity we wouldn't be where we are."
With three games remaining, the Bobcats have a chance to make a claim on a playoff spot if they can take care of business against Mohawk, Ellwood City and Aliquippa.
Time will tell if these will be the last games Rowse, Wallace and Goff will play together barring a playoff spot. Neither one of them have committed to play in college but will be getting more exposure with the play they have put forth this season.
Who knows? Rowse could be hurling touchdown passes to his favorite targets for another four years at the next level.
"Those guys have really grown up together," Beltz said. "That will be up for conversation with some local small colleges. It would be fun to see their growth if that happens."
First Published October 9, 2013 8:00 PM