It’s all about the ‘W’ for St. C.’s Kinnick
Most football gurus will agree that the quarterback is the most important position on the field.
That’s what makes the way Matt Kinnick’s season has basically flown under the radar so tough to figure out.
The St. Clairsville senior, however, could really care less because the Red Devils are winning and winning big.
“We’ve got a lot of great players on this team and we realize that if we play unselfish football, great things can happen for us,” Kinnick said.
With Kinnick at the controls, the Red Devils will look to put the finishing touches on a brilliant 15-0 season with the Division IV State Championship Friday afternoon when they take on Clarksville Clinton-Massie at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.
“We have one more victory to get to reach the goal we set for ourselves in middle school,” Kinnick said. “It’s pretty crazy when you think that a team from this area, which doesn’t always get a lot of respect, can go and compete with the best teams in the state and have a chance to win the state title is pretty crazy.”
Kinnick is effective for the Red Devils both with his legs and his arm, but that right arm has proven to be a deadly weapon. Couple his pin-point accuracy with his ability to make good decisions and it’s easy to see why the Red Devils have been scoring points in bunches all season.
Last week, Kinnick and senior wide receiver Dan Monteroso teamed up time and time again to put on an absolute clinic in the state semi-final victory against Creston Norwayne in Massillon.
Kinnick passed for a career high 430 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for three scores. Heck, for good measure, he saw his first significant action on defense and recorded five tackles.
“I had no idea I had thrown for that many yards until I looked at my Twitter account on the way home,” Kinnick said. “I saw Dan’s stats and then I saw mine, and I was like, ‘Wow!'”
It wasn’t always that easy for a player, who actually started his tackle football career on the line at tight end despite always wanting to play QB.
Kinnick wasn’t able to play in the seventh grade due to injury.
So, he came back out as an eighth grader, but was put at tight end and receiver, while Monteroso triggered the offense from the quarterback spot.
When their freshmen seasons rolled around in 2009, Monteroso bumped up to varsity to play as a receiver and Kinnick got his chance to be the quarterback at the freshmen and reserve level, while his brother Zac led the Devils’ varsity unit from under center.
“Him being able to play varsity was one of the best things that happened to me because it allowed me a chance to play quarterback,” Kinnick said. “I guess it worked out well for both of us.”
Standing on the sideline as he watched his brother orchestrate the offense really paid big dividends when he stepped into the starting role last season.
“Watching how he would coordinate the offense and everything really helped me with how I learned to play the position,” Kinnick said. “We still talk football at home. We talk about the teams we’re playing and what to look for in the defenses we’re facing. He’s really supportive of me and we don’t have any competitions or anything like that.”
Kinnick is the ultimate field general for the Red Devils, who work exclusively without a huddle as they want to set the tempo of the game for their balanced attack.
“That no huddle just seems like a natural for us anymore,” Kinnick said. “We practice the same things every week and we’ve gotten used to it.”
Kinnick has completed 135-of-223 passes for 2,991 yards and 37 touchdowns. He’s only been intercepted three times. He’s not rushed for a lot of yards (114), but he’s second on the team with eight touchdowns.
“Matt’s a big-time football player,” said St. C. head coach Brett McLean. “He stands in the pocket, handles pressure well and keeps his eyes down the field. He’s strong-armed, smart kid and athletic. He’s got all the tools that are necessary. He deserves all of the accolades he gets because he works hard it here, at home and on his own. I couldn’t be happier with how he’s played.”
Kinnick has spread the wealth to his bevy of playmakers, which include Monteroso, Jerrid Marhefka, Jaylon Brown, Michael Ferns and Jay Gossett.
He also had high praise for the work done by the Red Devils’ offensive line, which is comprised of Cole Stephen, Tom Parker, Corey Ernest, Joel Giffin and Nick VanVoltenburg.
“The entire line has come together as a group and it’s really worked out well for us,” Kinnick said. “Our line has been a huge part of the success we’ve had as an offense.”
With preparation winding down, Kinnick – and the rest of the senior class – is starting to come to grips with the fact that this week’s game will be their last in the Scarlet and Gray regardless of the outcome.
“It hasn’t really hit me, but I am sure after the game that it will really hit me,” Kinnick said. “I am going to miss all of the memories with this group of seniors because we’ve been such a close-knit group.”
Though he’s not received any formal offers, Kinnick does hope to play football at the collegiate level.
“After the season, I am going to look everything over and see what’s the best opportunity for me,” Kinnick said. “I’ve had a couple of schools looking at me, but nothing serious yet.”
Kinnick, who is also a standout on the baseball field for the Red Devils, is a 4.0 student.
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com