When Lexington quarterback Sal Frelick goes under center, what happens next is never written in stone. When he snaps the ball on a designed pass play and the pocket forms around him, he is composed and ready to deploy a spiral to any of his receivers.
But if that pocket collapses or he sees a gap, he uses his agility and speed to finagle his way out of trouble. As he rushes toward the sidelines, he keeps his head up and continues to look for a receiving target. If nothing appears, he can sprint up field and take a hit after a solid gain.
Both Frelick and his teammates struggle to identify him as a pass- or run-first quarterback in Lexington’s spread offense.
“He’s truly a dual threat,” said senior receiver Jimmy Lane. “He has the arm to pass first, but he also has the speed to be an All-League running back whenever he wants.”
Coach George Peterson, said Frelick, “kind of sees me as a second running back in the backfield, but I like to throw the ball too, and when I’m in that situation I’m going to do that.
“When I get out of the pocket, I look for the first two receivers on that side, and if they’re covered that’s when I make the decision to take off or throw it out of bounds, but I don’t like throwing it out of bounds, so I’ll go downfield and get a hit.”
The 5-foot-9-inch, 170-pound senior tore apart opposing defenses his junior season, throwing for 31 touchdowns and 2,026 passing yards. He scored an additional 21 times on the ground while accumulating 1,586 yards as Lexington finished the season 9-2. Peterson has watched him grow over his high school career, and having a quarterback who is not only gifted athletically but comes complete with a high football IQ allows for some offensive variety.
“He throws the ball extremely well, so we have the luxury of picking and choosing what we want to do because he can do both extremely well,” said Peterson. “And the big thing with him is he is very smart with the ball, he turned the ball over three times all over last year, he had two picks and one fumble. So we are very confident in anything we do with the ball in his hands.”
Yet as gifted as a quarterback as he is, Frelick has committed to play for Boston College next year — on the baseball diamond.
He’s been a three-sport athlete for as long as he can remember, playing ice hockey as well in the winter. Once the high school baseball season wraps up each spring, he immediately tackles the travel ball circuit, mixing in some football work during the week while playing baseball tournaments on weekends. By late July, he breaks out the football more consistently, and once mid-August rolls around he is totally dialed into his fall sport.
For as long as he can remember, he said, he’s been told that he would eventually have to specialize in one sport in high school, but he flew past those stop signs and feels the nonstop schedule has made him better in each sport.
“Just competing year round is what helps me the most,” he said. “I love to compete, and I’m going to come out here and compete 100 percent every single day, and playing year-round keeps me in that mind-set.”
Being an offensive lineman for such a multidimensional quarterback can present its fair share of challenges.
His left guard, senior Max Khozozian, is tasked with protecting the righty’s blind spot. Having some experience handling the job, he’s gotten a good feel for how the quarterback operates. And while not always knowing what to expect, having a quarterback who can weasel his way out of trouble certainly helps.
“He’s so athletic and so quick that he makes our jobs a lot easier,” said Khozozian. “It does take some pressure off of us, but it’s still our job to protect him. . . . And to know what he’s going to do, it definitely helps a lot.”
Also on Lexington’s offensive line is center Will Thomas, who has arguably the biggest responsibility on the line to have a good synergy with Frelick.
“He gives you more confidence,” said Thomas, “because you know you have a great guy behind you, but it does mean you have to work harder and stick blocks a little bit longer because he can run around for hours and evade defenders.
“You’ve got to stick on your blocks,’’ he continued, “until you hear that whistle.
“He does a great job communicating with us and relaying the plays to us,’’ said thomas, “and when there’s different looks we’re getting, he always makes sure to slow things down for a second and make sure we are organized, and he really helps us out.”