It's not easy being a receiver for the Mount Baker football team - the numbers simply don't add up.
Of the Mountaineers' 419 offensive snaps so far this season, they've attempted to throw the ball less than one in five times (19.8 percent).
But of the 83 passes Mount Baker quarterback Andrew Zender has thrown, senior receiver Zan Roman has snared nearly a quarter of them (20 receptions).
"I have to capitalize on the opportunities I do get," Roman said in a phone interview. "Yeah, there's a little more pressure to produce when you don't see it all that often, but it's still fun."
Roman hopes to have a little bit of fun and make his presence felt Friday, Nov. 9, at Civic Field, when Mount Baker (8-1) hosts Woodland in the first round of the Class 1A State Playoffs.
"One of the things I appreciate about Zan as a receiver is we don't throw the ball a ton, and I know he would like to play a bigger role, but you never hear him complain," Mount Baker coach Ron Lepper said in a phone interview. "The maturity level for him is real high."
Roman is averaging 19.0 yards per catch, as his 380 yards accounts for nearly two-thirds the Mountaineers' season passing total (617). He also has three TD receptions.
Plus, Roman has been happy to make his impact felt in a number of other ways.
On offense, that includes running decoy.
"I like running good fake routes," Roman said. "If I can draw away the safety as well as the cornerback and maybe even a linebacker, I'm helping my teammates."
Of course there is Roman's downfield blocking, which can turn a good run by Jake Schleimer, Izaiha Schwinden or Zender into a game-changing one.
"We've had quite a few long runs this year, and Zan and our other receivers have been a real big part of that," Lepper said. "He really likes when we run a crack-back block on an outside pitch. He takes pride in putting a guy on the field. ... We always tell our guys to make sure they always make the block they're supposed to make because you never know when it's going to be the block."
But blocking and faking are hardly the only ways Roman is able to affect the outcome of a game.
He's plenty capable of using his good speed and outstanding athletic ability in the return game to either set up the Mountaineers in good field position or put points on the board himself, as he did on a punt return in an Oct. 6 win over Lynden Christian. He also returned a kickoff 82 yards to the Friday Harbor 7 a week later.
Definitely don't forget his game-breaking ability on defense, either.
Roman returned a fumble 47 yards for Mount Baker's first score of the season on Aug. 31 against Bellingham, and added a 70-yard interception return for a TD Sept. 22 against Cedarcrest.
"He knows how to make plays," Lepper said. "He's pretty athletic and he's got good size for a high school kid. He just knows how to make big plays."
Roman can do that even when he doesn't make it to the end zone.
With a team-high seven interceptions this year, Roman now had 10 in his career - only one shy of the school-record 11 Tom Knebiel picked off in 1983 and 1984.
For the record, the school mark for single-season interceptions is 10, held by Tom Bengen in 1973.
"I think he's really taken going after our career record to heart," Lepper said. "He definitely plays the ball well. He's got above average speed and good instincts. Plus he's got length - he's tall and has good hands. He's a pretty good basketball player, too, and I think that helps him. He's gotten really good at closing on the ball."
Roman's gotten a lot better at pretty much everything he does on the field since he came to the Mountaineers "as an undersized guy we were scared was going to get broke," Lepper said.
Through hard work, he's now established himself as a 6-foot-3, 172-pound presence for the Mountaineers in whatever capacity they need him.
Roman just hopes he can play a role - no matter what it may be - to help Mount Baker pick up its first state win since a 32-8 victory over Washougal in the first round of the 1999 Class 2A State Playoffs.
"I think team chemistry is going to be the key for us," Roman said. "If we do everything we're supposed to do offensively and defensively and work together, everything else just falls into place."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
STATE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
FRIDAY, NOV. 9
CLASS 3A STATE PLAYOFFS
? First round: Ferndale at Bellevue, 7 p.m.
CLASS 1A STATE PLAYOFFS
? First round: Woodland at Mount Baker (at Civic Stadium), 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, NOV. 10
CLASS 2A STATE PLAYOFFS
? First round: Mark Morris at Lynden (at Civic Stadium), 5 p.m.
CLASS 1A STATE PLAYOFFS
? First round: Meridian at La Center (at Battle Ground District Stadium), 1 p.m.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.