Pope John freshman quarterback Sonny Abramson has led his team
to seven consecutive wins.
Nov. 2, 2012
It’s no easy task stepping into a starting role for the first time, especially if that role is varsity quarterback.
And especially if the new role-player is just 14 years old.
But Pope John freshman quarterback Sonny Abramson has done it, and continues to do it exceptionally well.
“His physical talents speak for themselves,” Pope John coach Brian Carlson said. "His maturity is what jumps out at you."
The 6'2", 190-pound signal-caller stepped into the spotlight Sept. 7 on the road against Randolph and almost came away with a win, but instead took the first and only loss of his young career.
"The atmosphere was great," Abramson said. "Playing a team like Randolph on the road in the first week of the season, it was like nothing else. There was a lot of people there, it was a ton of fun."
Abramson finished with 233 yards, one touchdown and an interception in his high school debut. One week later in just his second career game, the first at home, he had a coming out party.
Abramson completed 8-of-12 passes for 154 yards and five touchdowns in Pope John's 54-6 rout of High Point. He displayed more than adequate arm strength, good accuracy, and excellent footwork in and out of the pocket.
But those attributes aren't what coach Carlson is most impressed with.
"His intelligence is off the charts," Carlson said. "Sonny's very in tune with his goals - he started talking about going to Stanford in eighth grade. He's a straight-A student and obviously loved Pope John because of the academics."
His mental toughness was tested in Week 3, when he threw two interceptions that resulted in 10 points for Morris Hills. One was returned for a touchdown.
But the Chester, NJ native didn't panic. With the game tied 21-21 in the fourth quarter, Abramson found explosive playmaker Noah Brown for the go-ahead score on a 58-yard touchdown strike, and Pope John went on to win 35-21.
"He never gets rattled," Carlson said. "After that pick-six, a lot of freshman quarterbacks would've folded. He hung in there and came back to help us win the game."
Two weeks after that, Abramson went into hostile territory to duel with Sparta's standout quarterback in senior Jake Melville, and earned his biggest win to date, 14-10.
He went 21-for-33 with 179 yards and a touchdown. Abramson credits Carlson for his preparation.
"Coach Carlson prepared for me what it was going to be like," he said. "I set high goals for myself and there never really was that rude awakening. The biggest difference is how active the defense is at this level. The linebackers are very active and fly all over the field."
The first-year starter has had some expected bumps in the road, but has won every game since losing the season-opener, and has Pope John (7-1) seeded second in the Non-Public Group 3 playoffs.
Abramson has 1,716 passing yards with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a freshman during the regular season, which will conclude next Saturday against Delbarton when the state resumes suspended play due to Hurricane Sandy.
After taking on Delbarton (the number one seed in Non-Public Group 3) in Pope John's ninth game, the rookie will start under center in his first varsity postseason. He admittedly has plenty of things to work on as his team prepares for the stretch run.
"My biggest weakness right now is seeing the whole field," Abramson said. "I've learned so many things and have gotten tons better at it but it's a work-in-progress. Every game I'm getting better at reading defenses but sometimes you miss guys open in the end zone. So you look at the film and you learn from it."
At times he's even learned to do things that he would rather not have to do.
"I've never had to throw the ball away before so that's something new," he said with a grin. "But I just have to stay focused and continue sharpening my skills."