Kenton#039;s Mauk voted AP#039;s Mr. Football Award

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 29, 2002

Kenton's game plan is simple: Line up with five wide receivers and let quarterback Benny Mauk go to work.

Mauk's numbers are like something out of a video game. So far this year, he's thrown for 6,228 yards and 72 touchdowns and has rushed for 1,252 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Want more numbers? How about 17,223 yards and 175 touchdowns for his career, both national records.

Email newsletter signup

Here's another number: Seven. Not only is it his jersey number, it's how many first-place votes Mauk received from a state media panel, making him the unanimous choice as the 2002 Associated Press Mr. Football. He will receive a plaque in the shape of Ohio.

Cleveland Benedictine running back Raymond Williams was a unanimous choice for second place. Dublin Coffman quarterback Brady Quinn was third and Cincinnati Princeton quarterback Mike Daniels was fourth. Other finalists were Woodsfield Monroe Central running back Christopher Wilson, New Lexington running back Drew Cannon and Coshocton running back Doori Song.

So what makes Mauk so good? His father -- and coach -- Mike Mauk has a couple of answers.

''No. 1, he's surrounded by a great group of players that allow him to do the things he's capable of doing,'' Mike said, pointing out that the team has a number of receivers who contribute and a solid offensive line.

''He not only has the ability to throw, he's also elusive enough to avoid the rush when necessary and push the ball down the field,'' he said.

And his team wins. Kenton is 27-2 during the last two years.

''I think what makes those numbers so unique is that we're winning football games,'' the coach said. ''If you put up those numbers and you're not winning, they're irrelevant.''

Benny said he was born to be the triggerman for his dad's high-octane offense, which uses five receivers and no running backs and requires Benny to call the plays.

''I've been on the sidelines since I was in kindergarten,'' Benny said. ''I know where the ball needs to go.''

He gets it there efficiently. He's completed 390-of-631 passes (61 percent) this year and the Wildcats are averaging 52.5 points per game in the playoffs.

So, considering that no one really has been able to stop the Wildcats, it would be easy for the younger Mauk to be cocky. But again, he defers to the team.

''During the week, we practice for the worst-case scenario,'' he said. ''When we go on the field, we know what the worst thing they can do is. We're confident in what we're doing.''

A sliver of pride shows through when he's asked about handling all the media attention.

''We're a football town, so everybody lives around football and wishes it could be all year round,'' Benny said. ''It kind of puts a little pride in your heart to know Kenton's being talked about across the nation. I'm proud to be a part of it.''

Before long, he will leave Kenton and head to North Carolina, where he has committed to Wake Forest. He said he probably will major in education or communications and feels he will fit well at Wake.

''It's not real big like Ohio State,'' Benny said, ''But you're playing against ACC competition and getting almost an Ivy League education.''

Before he goes to college, how would he feel about being chosen as the best high school player in Ohio?

''Just to be on a list with all those guys would be a special honor,'' Mauk said. ''I looked up to those guys growing up.''

In terms of numbers, they're all looking up at him.