Blue Valley North quarterback Graham Mertz made a few big plays in Friday’s season opener against Blue Valley Northwest.
More importantly for the Mustangs, Mertz added a lot of the little plays — which is precisely how he managed a somewhat quiet six touchdown performance in a 48-13 victory.
Only two of Mertz’s 25 completions covered more than 25 yards —– and four of his touchdown passes were 4 yards or less.
Not that he’s complaining.
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“With those athletes around me, it’s just picking and throwing,” Mertz said. “It’s great having weapons on the field. It’s just easy throws. It’s awesome.”
Five different Mustang receivers caught a pass, and four scored. Running back Grant Hamel had three touchdowns among his four receptions, and finished with 114 yards from scrimmage.
Mertz had plenty of weapons on the field at his previous school, Bishop Miege. The only problem was that he was stuck behind standout quarterback Carter Putz.
Now that he has the reins of the Mustang offense, Mertz was happy to show what he can do. He finished with 259 yards and no interceptions to complement those six touchdowns.
“I’ve been waiting two years to get out here,” Mertz said. “Tonight was just my night to let it all out.
The North defense did its part as well, picking off Northwest three times and recovering a fumble. Thatcher Robertson returned one of those interceptions 33 yards for a touchdown.
It was Robertson’s first career touchdown – ever. And even though the return was little more than a wind sprint, with nobody to dodge, Robertson didn’t relax until he crossed the goal line.
“I actually was scared someone was going to knock the ball away from behind me, so I started looking back,” Robertson said. “But yeah, it was great.”
All-in-all, it’s an opener that North coach Andy Sims will gladly take.
“Week one is always tough, because you don’t know what your opponent is going to do. Especially in this case, with your opponent being a brand new head coach,” Sims said. “We just had some Week one mistakes, that’s all.”
The Huskies (0-1) got off to a rough start under new coach Clint Rider: the first offensive play of the game ended in an interception.
Still, they finished strong and managed two fourth quarter touchdowns.
“We’ve got a lot of kids in new positions, so they’re learning on the run. But they’ve been very coachable,” Rider said. “We’ll just look at the film and keep improving week by week.”