Thursday, November 18, 1999

Elder receivers come through




BY DAVE SCHUTTE
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Elder receivers Brett Mezger and Joel Wainscott.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        Statistically speaking, Brett Mezger wore a uniform but wasn't really a member of the Elder football team in 1998.

        “I didn't catch a pass and seldom got into a game,” said Mezger, a six-foot-one, 175-pound senior. “Basically, I was a junior waiting for my turn.”

        Elder football coach Doug Ramsey wasn't counting on Mezger to contribute to the Panther offense this season.

        But through 11 games, Mezger has emerged as Elder's leading receiver, catching 44 passes from quarterback Collin Carey for 764 yards (17.3 average) and four touchdowns.

        “All I wanted was Coach Ramsey to give me a look,” Mezger said. “I knew I could do it if given a shot.”

        Ramsey said Mezger wasn't being counted on to contribute.

        “We thought that Brett had a chance to compete but we weren't looking for him to start,” Ramsey said.

        “When practice began in August, we could tell right away that Brett was a different player just from the way he ran. He lengthened his stride and was much faster.”

        Mezger points to a voluntary offseason conditioning program and an attitude change as the keys to his success.

        “We ran Tuesday and Thursday and lifted Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” Mezger said. “I've put on about 20 pounds. I'm a lot stronger this season.”

        Former La Salle and Scott High School head coach Ray Heidorn took Mezger under his wing and molded him into one of Elder's best offensive threats.

        “Coach Heidorn had confidence in me and taught me how to block and run pass routes,” Mezger said. “He watched me closely and that made me feel I had something to work for.”

        Greater Catholic League coaches were impressed with Mezger, voting him to the con ference's first team, an accomplishment no one could have predicted going into the season.

        “I know of at least three TD passes that Brett caught by running past people,” Ramsey said. “He ... is capable of getting behind you.”

        Elder's second-leading receiver is Joel Wainscott, a six-foot-two, 195-pound senior, who has caught 31 passes for 498 yards and five TDs. In 1998, Wainscott caught 28 passes.”

        “Joel was our go-to guy in several games this season,” Ramsey said.

        Wainscott's value goes beyond catching the ball.

        “When teams blitz, Joel has developed into an outstanding blocker,” Ramsey said. “I'd saw that's his biggest improvement over last year.”

        Wainscott played quarterback at Oak Hills before transfering to Elder. He played linebacker on the Panthers' junior varsity team.

        “We needed a tight end, and Joel was willing to make the change,” Ramsey said. “Against Wayne (Elder's opponent on Saturday), we may throw to Joel if he's covered by a linebacker.”

        Mezger and Wainscott have made senior quarterback Collin Carey's job much easier, combining for 75 catches.

        “Collin throws the ball hard, but Brett snags the ball with both hands,” Ramsey said. “He has such great hands. He catches the ball away from his body like it's written in the textbooks.”

        Carey, who also saw little playing time in 1998, has been outstanding. He has completed 123 of 220 passes for 2,024 yards and 20 TDs.

        This trio will have to be at their best Saturday against a tough Huber Heights Wayne defense capable of putting pressure on the quarterback.

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