Shore Sports Network Most Valuable Player: Red Bank Catholic’s Steve Lubischer
Based on the precarious field position, slim advantage on the scoreboard and, above all else, the magnitude of the moment, the call seemed like a roll of the dice.
Red Bank Catholic coach Frank Edgerly had a far different point of view, willing to bet on a player with a superior poker face. This was the chance to give Steve Lubischer a parting farewell gift, the opportunity to validate all the faith he had in his senior quarterback since he assumed the starting role as a sophomore.
Edgerly measured the situation as ideal to spring an element of surprise, at least from the context of the play call. The Caseys had just completed an epic goal-line stand that denied Mater Dei Prep the chance to seize its first lead with just under four minutes to play in the NJSIAA Non-Public, Group 3 state championship at MetLife Stadium.
That was the good news. The bad news was RBC had little margin for error, pinned at its own two-yard line trying to preserve a one-point advantage.
Edgerly sent Lubischer onto the field with simple instructions…”Power RT 347.”
“It did surprise me,” confided Lubischer of the play selection. “But, he’s always believed in me.”
Armed with his assignment, Lubischer took the snap from center Tommy Smith, sold a quick, play-action exchange with running back Billy Guidetti and rolled to his right, arching a throw off his back foot from the end zone to junior tight end Kevin Bauman for a 56-yard gain. The execution: flawless; the outcome defining of Lubischer’s trajectory as a quarterback.
His mobility was always an asset utilized by RBC and his accuracy precise. Most importantly, it was his unflappable poise that had Edgerly convinced his instincts were correct because the player he entrusted to perform the act was immune to buckling under pressure.
The toss flipped the field in favor of the Caseys to help complete a 14-10 triumph that punctuated a 10-0 season - the program’s first unbeaten campaign since 1960 – and secure its second state title in five years.
It also was the exclamation point on a senior year that earned Lubischer the Shore Sports Network Most Valuable Player honor.
“He’s a bit of an anomaly,” is how Edgerly described the 6-2, 195-pound signal caller, who is heading to Boston College. “He's quiet but hyper-competitive. A lot of guys wear their emotions on their sleeves. He doesn’t. When the ball is snapped and in his hands, he’s as competitive as they come. The reality of the position is you have to be who you are. Some guys are fiery. Other guys, you can’t tell if their team is up 40 or down 40. That same, even-keeled demeanor kept our team grounded. There’s a fine line between being passionate and overly expressive.”
Lubischer surgically dissected defenses with keen awareness and deft touch. He completed nearly 70 percent of his throws this fall (85 for 122) while compiling 1,678 yards through the skies, including 21 touchdowns. He made the most of the protection supplied by Smith, a senior, classmates Ambrose Richards and Nate Mansfield, junior Chris Hart and sophomore Luke Guidetti up front.
How effortlessly he balanced an offense that saw Guidetti rush for 902 yards and a dozen TDs and wide receivers MJ Wright (34 receptions for 548 yards, six TDs) and Jaden Key (18 receptions for 466 yards, five TDs), along with Bauman (15 receptions for 342 yards, two TDS), a Notre Dame pledge, Charlie Gordinier and Kevin Degnan spread a defense beyond its limitations spoke to his unselfish nature.
“Where I’ve seen his greatest growth is in conceptualizing a game,” praised Edgerly. “He took a quantum leap in that regard, with his mental aspects catching up to his athletic ability. He wants to win and doesn’t care how we do it. He took his knowledge of the position to a graduate level because so much is asked of him at the line of scrimmage. Some plays look real good on the whiteboard. It was his cognitive, emotional ability to slow it down and execute that was the difference.”
“The game did slow down for me this year,” admitted Lubischer. “That was a credit to our summer workouts that myself and the other captains put together by texting everyone to meet. I learned more about the game and it made me a smarter player.”
That initiative to summon teammates also revealed the leadership qualities that made Lubischer someone to listen to when he spoke. He took his veteran status seriously, understanding how infectious his composure would be on those he was surrounded by come game time.
“We developed our chemistry during those two-hour workouts in the summer,” Lubischer said. “That helped us win a championship.”
“He’s a very humble, unassuming kid who doesn’t need you to know he is in the room,” Edgerly noted. “He’s not pounding his chest. He puts the team before himself, we before me.”
Lubischer may be soft-spoken, but, this fall, he proved he sure knows how to make some poignant, championship noise with actions that spoke louder than words.