Blaine wide receiver Anthony Ball, not long ago, faced massive tasks during fall Friday nights.
In today’s day in age, it’s uncommon to see a freshman suit up for a varsity game, let alone play in one. But two years ago, that’s right where Ball was, playing under the lights against competition three years older than him.
Ball, now a junior, finds himself in an evolved role.
“It gives me a lot of confidence,” said Ball on facing opponents his same age, “because playing younger, everybody always was two to three years older than me, and now that I’m a junior, I’ll be playing with mostly a grade above me and my age. I enjoy that.”
In spite of playing beyond his years, Ball has still managed to make a strong impact in the Northwest Conference.
His 423 receiving yards ranked among the league’s top 15 pass-catchers last fall and accounted for nearly half of the Borderites’ team receiving yards. He also logged seven touchdowns.
Ball’s biggest game came Week 4 against Sehome when he caught six passes for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Ball is hoping to take another step forward this fall, and each year he’s added a new dimension to his receiving abilities.
“My routes, definitely, and how crispy they are,” said Ball when asked his biggest area of improvement. “Because the first year I was learning everything, I didn’t really know how many steps to take or when to break and use my hands. Through time and watching older guys, it’s finally coming and clicking in. ... I know how to run (routes) and how to beat people.”
Ball will utilize those lessons learned to create strong chemistry with new quarterback Jalen Kortlever. And as one of Blaine’s veteran wide receivers, he’s assuming a leadership role with the other wideouts, teaching them the lessons he’s learned already playing two seasons of varsity ball.
“I feel good with it,” said Ball of helping out his fellow receivers, “because I know what the routes are and teaching other people, they pick it up as well as I do, and that gives Jalen a lot more options to throw the ball.”
Top wide receivers to watch
1. Jordan Wittenberg, Lynden
Wittenberg’s future may be baseball, but he sure makes one heck of a wide receiver. He amassed a jaw-dropping 1,476 yards last season, 625 more than the next closest receiver, and caught 14 touchdowns. Another year with Sterling Somers should produce more gaudy numbers.
2. Ben Peterson, Squalicum
There may be no faster receiver in the Northwest Conference, and his hands are as impressive as his speed. Peterson caught 55 passes for 851 yards and eight TDs a year ago.
3. Taylor Rapp, Sehome
The Mariners will play a bit of Where’s Waldo with Rapp, moving him all over the place giving defenses myriad looks. Rapp can run the ball like no other, but we most likely be split out most often on offense.