By Mike DeFabo and Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
Malik Boddy saw the ball go up and immediately knew what he had to do.
The Fairmont Senior cornerback accelerated as the ball drifted out of reach for the intended receiver. Extending his arms, he snared the ball out of the air for his third interception of the year, the most of any Polar Bear this season.
Not bad for a guy who didn’t even want to play defense at the beginning of the season.
“If you would have talked to him back in June, he did not want to play defense,” Fairmont Senior coach J.L. Abbott said. “I think he’s turned out to be a pretty good corner.”
When Boddy hopped up with the ball, he pointed to the sky, extending his index finger and thumb in the shape of an “L” for “Lik,” his trademark celebration.
“I throw up the ‘L’ for ‘Lik,’” Boddy explained after the Polar Bears’ dominant 52-6 victory over Braxton County on Friday.
Boddy’s had plenty of opportunities to show off the celebration. On a team dominated by 16 seniors, the sophomore has become one of the team’s most explosive players on defense, offense and especially special teams.
In the game against Braxton, Boddy also returned a punt for a touchdown, his second of the season. And as a tailback this season he’s scored two rushing touchdowns to go along with 191 yards.
“It feels goods playing with a bunch of seniors to be one of the key parts of the team,” he said.
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Last season, East Fairmont quarterback Jake Delaney was just a backup quarterback. But while Ronnie Mills continues to rehab a shoulder injury from last season, Delaney has been thrust into the starting role.
As the quarterback, Delaney has to be a leader. With that, he needs to learn the playbook and develop a relationship with the starting players, both of which Delaney has done a fine job at.
“It just came pretty natural,” Delaney said of the move.
Though he’s still learning, he’s been making strides all season. But if there’s one thing that he could improve at, Delaney admits that it’s his throwing abilities.
“I could barely throw at the beginning of the season,” he said. “I stay in the gym and just keep on throwing.”
At the start of the season, East Fairmont appeared to be a running team. Now, though, the gears have shifted, and the Bees have become a passing team of sorts.
Delaney has shown that he’s capable of providing both skills.
He’s currently second in the Big 10 in passing yards with 1,252 yards and is tied for second with 10 touchdowns. Delaney also has 160 rushing yards on the season and has been able to scramble for first downs all season.
“Scrambling is probably my favorite thing to do,” he admitted. “If I can get a guy open, I can hit him, or I can take off down the field.”
Also at the start of the season, Delaney saw more action on the defensive side of the ball. But throughout the season, the quarterback became a little more valuable and other players have stepped up, allowing Delaney to get some rest in between drives.
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North Marion also has a guy in Chase Banker who has been asked to step up on occasion to play different positions on the field.
Banker is the team’s number one receiver and is coming off a 2012 season in which he tied the school record in receptions with 64. This season, he started out as a quarterback for the Huskies.
“They needed someone back there to get the ball out and I had a bit of arm,” Banker said of the decision. “I’d never played quarterback before.”
The senior is second on the team in passing with 137 yards, but has caught eight passes for 130 yards. He also has 161 yards on the ground.
Banker being at quarterback may not have been the ideal situation, but it has helped in the long run, Banker said.
“Usually at wide receiver I can change my route up just a bit, so after playing quarterback now I know where the open holes should be and where the coverage opens up,” said Banker.
He also adds a different perspective to North Marion’s running game.
While he said quarterback Drew Harker can get out if he needs to, he admitted the team likes to run the wildcat style of offense when Banker is at quarterback.
It’s not easy to be thrown into a new position or to be with a new group of guys, but these players have made the best of their opportunities in 2013.