Male High Schoolâ€™s Tyler Erny has completed 75 of 115 pass attempts for 1,136 yards and nine touchdowns, and after a 4-8 season in 2011, the senior has led the recharged Bulldogs (4-1) to a No. 5 ranking in 6-A.
Not bad for a kicker.
â€œHeâ€™s done a really great job,â€ said Male coach Chris Wolfe, who transitioned Erny â€“ a full-time kicker last season â€“ to quarterback over the summer after projected starter Aladin Ganibegovic fractured his wrist. â€œWeâ€™ve been really happy with where he is and I think heâ€™s going to continue to get quite a bit better.â€
When the QB spot came open in June, Wolfe knew Erny had potential.
â€œIâ€™d seen him throw the ball. (As a kicker) you donâ€™t kick for two hours so you go over to wide receiver drills and you become kind of the scout team quarterback,â€ Wolfe explained. â€œHe had quite a bit of arm strength and accuracy. Once we got him at quarterback and saw what he could do, we knew he was going to be our guy.â€
Before this season, the 5-foot-11, 185-pounderâ€™s only experience behind center came in middle school, but Erny dispelled all doubts in his debut â€“ a 48-7 rout of Floyd Central (Ind.), in which he exploded for 358 yards and three TDs on 19-of-25 passing.
â€œIt was big because everybody was skeptical of what was going on and it was nice to give them some confidence in our season,â€ said Erny, who quickly grew comfortable with a larger role.
â€œI like being the leader of the team. â€¦Kicking is a once or twice a game thingâ€¦and it seems like quarterback is constant pressure. You always have to stay calm and keep your poise.â€
The following week against Butler, Erny ran in the game-winning TD on fourth and goal with under two minutes to play and finished with 108 yards rushing on 18 carries. He has run 55 times for 235 yards and two TDs.
The Bulldogs then blanked Western 28-0 before falling to Lexington Catholic 28-7. Last Friday, Sept. 14, Erny caught fire again, notching 227 yards passing (11 of 16) and three TDs in a 45-14 thrashing of Boone County.
Maleâ€™s fate in the second half of the season could hinge on Ernyâ€™s ability to limit mistakes. He has been picked off six times.
â€œHeâ€™s certainly made his fair share of mistakes, but heâ€™s also made some fantastic plays,â€ said Wolfe. â€œHeâ€™s really a guy that learns from his mistakes, so the playoffs and the end of the year is going to be pretty exciting to see what he can do.â€
In addition to Erny, the Bulldogs have gotten big contributions from other players who were off the radar before this season. Twin brothers Mike and Malik Malone didnâ€™t even start for the junior varsity team last season, but now the junior linebackers anchor a stifling Bulldogs defense, which has allowed only 11.4 points per game.
Mike Malone has 28 tackles (5.5 for a loss) and a sack, while Malik Malone has charted a pair of sacks and 27 tackles (seven for a loss).
Junior running back Marquis Northington heads the ground game with an average of 4.9 yards per carry and four TDs.
Erny and the Bulldogs will look to make even more noise in the coming weeks. They host Eastern Friday, before facing district powers St. Xavier (Oct. 5) and Trinity (Oct. 12).
â€œThe mood of the team is a lot better (than last year), everybodyâ€™s more team-orientedâ€¦and we just like to work together,â€ said Erny.
*The Trinity High football teamâ€™s Friday matchup against Indianapolis Cathedral (2-3) at Lucas Oil Stadium will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Kickoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. Cathedral is Indianaâ€™s defending 4-A state champion. The Rocks (4-0), Kentuckyâ€™s two-time defending 6-A champions, are going for their 30th straight win.
*Top-seeded Assumption came up just short of defending its crown at the Durango Fall Classic volleyball tournament in Las Vegas, falling to Torrey Pines (Calif.) 25-22, 14-25, 25-16 in the championship match on Sept. 15.
Torrey Pines is No. 1 in PrepVolleyball.comâ€™s national rankings, followed by Assumption at No. 2. The loss snapped a 50-match winning streak for the Rockets.
Sacred Heart, the 15th seed, went 3-3 and finished third in its consolation bracket.
The Valkyries will host Assumption Sunday, Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com.