Sapere much more than a backup for Owls

Kevin Crompton  – Editor-in-Chief

The redshirt freshman, Matthew Sapere, is back at the helm.

In Saturday’s overtime loss to Pace University, starting quarterback Matt Sanzaro suffered a shoulder injury and is likely to be sidelined for the remainder of the season. With two games left on the regular season schedule, Southern will look to Sapere to lead the team.

Sapere already has two wins under his belt as a starter for the Owls. When Sanzaro suffered a concussion in week three at the University of New Haven, it was Sapere who stepped in and threw for the Owls only passing touchdown of the game, and the first passing touchdown for Southern all season.

Fast forward one week to Southern vs. Stonehill. Sapere throws for three touchdowns en route of a 42-point scoring barrage. How does he fare the following week? Completions to six different receivers, 200 total passing yards, two touchdowns and spearheading the Owls 43-7 win over Saint Anslem.

Two starts. Two wins.

When Sapere has started and played all four quarters, the Owls average 42.5 points per game. Of course, just two starts should be taken with a grain of salt. A much larger sample size is essential to fully evaluate any quarterback at any level.

However, Sapere shouldn’t be looked at as merely a backup quarterback. In fact, Sapere was in the conversation as a potential week one starter during spring practices. Sanzaro rightfully won the quarterback battle in the spring, but it’s worth noting that a redshirt freshman was taking snaps with the first offense.

What does this mean? It means an inexperienced quarterback is exceptionally talented. It means an inexperienced quarterback learns and understands plays and schemes quickly. It means an inexperienced quarterback has the attitude that he can be a leader. His weakness — well, inexperience.

Last Saturday, Sapere and the Owls offense had the ball with 25 seconds to go
in regulation. In attempt to put kicker Jose Conde into field goal range, Sapere’s shot down field was intercepted. In overtime, more of the same from Sapere. After a quick score from Pace, Sapere is eager to tie the game and throws a game ending interception.

Sapere has the gunslinger mentality. In this instance, that mentality hurt him but it’s evident he wants to win and wants to contribute to each victory.

It’s unfortunate Sanzaro got injured. He’s a great athlete and a talented quarterback, but that’s the harsh reality of football. Players get injured and the next guy up gets an opportunity to prove himself.

Sapere’s opportunity is here for the second time this season. Don’t be surprised to see a gunslinger with a chip on his shoulder as Southern closes out the 2018 season.


Photo Credit: Palmer Piana

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