By Jay Skurskifirstname.lastname@example.org
He might not be the fastest or the strongest, but there’s little doubt Keith Bogdan is one of the smartest quarterbacks the North Tonawanda Lumberjacks have ever had.
And that intelligence has equaled results for the 17-year-old senior. Bogdan was under center for every one of NT’s five league wins this season, helping the Lumberjacks win back the Section VI Class AA North title they had lost in 2006.
“He’s just a really smart kid,” NT coach Eric Jantzi said of his QB. “He makes sure we have the right play called. He runs the offense the way it’s supposed to be run.”
That offense is the triple option, but Bogdan has five or six choices every time he steps up to the line. He can run it himself, which has resulted in nine touchdowns. Or he can go to the air, often to wide receiver Aaron Davis. Or he can hand it off to any one of a number of talented backs: Adam Kibat, Ryan Hawkins or Jeff Zellner. At times, the options seem endless.
At the heart of it, though, is Bogdan.
“He’s a big reason why the whole offense is clicking,” Jantzi said. “When he comes to the line of scrimmage, he knows what he has to do.”
Bogdan’s smarts aren’t limited to the football field. He’s seventh in his class of 345 with a weighted average of 98.088. He plans to study accounting at a local school — possibly Niagara or Canisius — next year. He’s also modest, which means it’s tough to get him to talk about any individual success he’s had.
“Everybody’s clicking,” he said when asked what’s made him so successful. “The line is blocking really well, and the backs are running great.”
The entire season hasn’t been like that for the Lumberjacks, however, as NT started 0-2 with non-league losses to St. Francis and Clarence. That start could have damaged the confidence of the players, but that wasn’t the case, according to Bogdan.
“It was definitely hard, but we knew we were good,” he said. “As soon as we started playing as a team, we ran off five in a row.”
Bogdan, who also serves as the Lumberjacks’ kicker, also plays basketball and baseball. His rise this season is even more impressive considering he wasn’t even the starter coming out of training camp. Hawkins started the season opener against St. Francis, but Jantzi and the coaching staff made the switch midway through that game and haven’t looked back since.
“It’s not that Hawk did a bad job, I’m sure we could run the offense with him in there, too,” Jantzi said. “It’s just now we have another threat.”
Contact editor Jay Skurski at 693-1000, ext. 117.