BOULDER — It is no secret that Fairview made a change at quarterback this season and has continued to assault defenses through the air.
What some forget is that the receiving corps is essentially new as well.
Record-setting Sam Martin graduated after last season’s runner-up finish in Class 5A, along with No. 2 and 3 receivers Cameron Frazier and Owen Harris. That means quarterback Johnny Feauto, who replaced the graduated Anders Hill, has flourished while throwing to guys who weren’t a big part of the passing game last season.
Guys like senior Tim Ryan, a four-year starter — but the first three of those at defensive back. Guys like Connor May, who missed all of last season because of an ACL tear. Guys such as emerging sophomore David McWilliams, who reminds many of the departed Frazier.
And guys such as tight end Steve D’Epagnier, who, with 21 catches last season, was coach Tom McCartney’s top returning receiver.
“Well, we have an unbelievable quarterback in Johnny Feauto, obviously,” D’Epagnier said. “And the offense that coach Mac has put in, just the schemes and how we attack the defense has made us tough to stop. And our wide receivers are so talented. I mean, Tim is a monster.”
As the Knights (10-0) gear up for Friday night’s second-round contest against Overland (7 p.m., Recht Field), their passing numbers leap off the stat sheet. Feauto has completed nearly 67 percent of his passes en route to 3,296 yards, 32 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
But how did it happen with a virtually new receiving corps?
“To be honest with you, I think there are several factors,” McCartney said. “One, our receivers coach, Craig Hoeltgen, is really good. Some of these guys have been working with him behind the scenes as Sam, Cam and Owen did their thing.
“Two, Johnny was the starting quarterback for six games his sophomore year, meaning he had some knowledge and background and a lot of success. And I think he’s doing a tremendous job of spreading that ball around.”
No debate about that. Ryan, also Feauto’s baseball teammate, has hauled in 70 receptions for 1,082 yards. He filled in briefly at the position last season while Frazier was on a baseball trip, but this is his first extended action on offense.
May, also a lacrosse standout, has hauled in 50 receptions for 709 yards and eight TDs as a senior first-year starter. McWilliams has a team-best nine TD receptions amongst his 46 receptions and 776 yards. And D’Epagnier, who caught the deciding two-point conversion in Fairview’s 50-49 league-clinching win against Legacy, has reeled in 41 catches for 434 yards and six TDs after making a successful return from a torn labrum.
Even running back Jason Harvey has gotten in to the act with 26 receptions out of the backfield.
“I think it’s been fun for everybody,” Ryan said. “It’s fun putting points up and making plays. I think it puts it in perspective that the guys behind the scenes are ready to step up the next year.”
May said his role last season “was kind of the water boy” after his ACL injury. In an ironic twist, he was cleared to play seven days after the championship game. But he is making up for lost time now as a key part of the new regime of receivers.
“It’s pretty exciting,” May said. “Tim, Johnny, Steve and I have been playing with or against each other for a long time, so it’s been pretty cool coming into this year being a big part of it together.”
Martin graduated as the state record holder in several key categories and set a school record at Miami (Ohio) this season with a four-TD performance. Becoming a key piece in the same Knights offense has become a prestigious, sought-after honor.
“Some of our guys had a goal over the summer to catch 10,000 balls because that’s what they wanted to do,” McCartney said. “We catch a ton of balls in the offseason and during the weeks leading up to the games to where we think that translates and pays off.”
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