Proper reads and making correct decisions are the responsibility of the quarterback. So too are finding ways to make plays at key moments in a football game.
West Seneca West's Matt Myers did it better than anyone else, which is why the senior signal-caller has been chosen as the 2017 Buffalo News Player of the Year.
Myers' selection headlines the 60th edition of the All-Western New York team, as selected by The News in conjunction with Prep Talk Awards Hall of Famer Dick Gallagher and other trusted area coaches.
In a year in which four teams reached state championship games with several players having a major impact on the successes of their respective clubs, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Myers guided the Indians to their first New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Class A championship and a 13-0 record.
-- Whenever West needed a big pass, he delivered.
-- Whenever the Indians needed a big run, he delivered.
-- Leadership with a capital 'L,' he delivered.
Myers, the University at Buffalo commit, earned the distinction as Player of the Year over Lancaster's all-purpose sensation, first-team linebacker Joseph Andreessen, and fellow dual-threat playmaking quarterbacks KeShone Beal of Cheektowaga and Jayce Johnson of Canisius.
This is Myers' second All-WNY first-team honor as he captured the nod at punter last season at Bishop Timon-St. Jude.
"I’m blessed to be picked for the second year in a row, to get picked for my real position this year is great," said Myers, who averaged 45 yards per punt as a junior. "I can’t thank the guys around me enough for making my job a lot easier. (They made) my last season in high school one to remember."
"He naturally commands the huddle," West coach Mike Vastola said. "Your team needs a good leader at quarterback and kids naturally gravitate toward him because how good he plays the position. He wants to be their leader. He works at it. He knows he can throw the best pass, but he still needs someone to catch it. … He knows it's a team game. He does a good job giving those guys credit."
There were many contributors to the Indians' state championship season, but it likely doesn't happen without the record-setting Myers.
He set single-season program marks for total touchdowns (46), passing touchdowns (24), rushing TDs (22), passing yards (2,397) and all-purpose yards (3,434). His six total TDs (four passing, two rushing) in a win against Hamburg broke the single-game program mark of five previously held by Dawson Broad. Myers also set the record for all-purpose yards in a single game when he finished with 425 during the Indians' 40-22 triumph against Wilson Magnet of Section V in the state quarterfinals.
"Obviously, everybody needs some horses to take them where they want to go," Vastola said. "He's a good strong young horse you can ride for a while."
He's one of only a few Western New York quarterbacks to pass for at least 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 (he finished with 1,037) in a season – a list that includes current Denver Bronco Chad Kelly (St. Joe's in 2010) and current SUNY Brockport star Tyree Brown (South Park in 2015).
While many figured Myers' return to West during the summer would help the program end a 12-year playoff drought and make the team an instant Section VI title contender, a lot of things could have derailed the team and Myers from achieving their championship goals – from injuries to just plain bad luck striking at the worst time.
None of that happened as the Indians not only made the postseason but won their first Section VI championship, as Myers led a second-half comeback from a 12-point deficit in a 27-24 decision against South Park. They then beat three other section champions during a playoff run that captivated the entire West Seneca community.
Myers' teammates helped him deliver two unforgettable performances during the state tournament.
The first came in that quarterfinal at SUNY Brockport, a game played in conditions so frigid that there were jet engines on each sideline as a way of helping players stay warm. Myers had a hand in five touchdowns – including a 76-yard TD run to open the second half and a 74-yard scoring strike to Kyle Haettich just after Wilson had pulled within 27-14. Myers finished with 19 carries for 203 yards and two scores and passed for 222 yards and three TDs. He absorbed some hard hits in that game but kept popping back up.
How's that for a state tournament debut?
"We were probably outmanned in a couple of spots, but he was the best player on the field," Vastola said.
After the Indians crushed III-Whitesboro in the semifinals, Myers capped the postseason and his scholastic career by accounting for 264 of West's 290 yards in the 14-6 triumph against Yorktown in the state final.
While the first play of the season isn't always memorable, West's provided a sign of things to come.
In that Week 1 contest against Amherst, Myers kept it on a read-option run for a 7-yard gain. Twelve weeks later, on the most important drive of the season at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, the play call?
You guessed it: Myers kept it – plowing through two defenders on a 2-yard touchdown run with 97 seconds left that all but secured the dream ending to the dream season.
"I've always wanted to be a state champion," Myers said. "To go out my senior year in my last game (as a champion) is unreal."