Running a spread offense does not come easily. It requires speed, accuracy and the ability to read a defense and make good decisions on the fly.
Cottonwood quarterback Steve Romero has all those attributes.
A two-year starter for the Colts, Romero, a senior captain, has come a long way from where he was as a junior.
"It is like night and day the difference between him last year and this season," Cottonwood coach Cecil Thomas said. "The biggest difference is that he has become a real leader. In order for an offense to be successful, I think you need to have your quarterback be a leader on the field and in the huddle, and Steve has stepped up and done that for us. The guys look up to him and he fulfills the role for us."
After losing in the quarterfinals last season, Romero has helped guide the 13-0 Colts into the 4A championship game this Friday against undefeated Timpview at 2:30 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium. It is a showdown many have been counting on all season, and one Cottonwood hoped would happen after the Thunderbirds ended the Colts' season last year.
"We felt like we didn't play our best game then, and that we are a much better team now," said Romero after the Colts' 19-14 semifinal win over Pine View. "All season, teams talked about Timpview being there and then having another team step up and meet them, and all year we have been preparing to be the that team. We are going to work hard at practice all week, and we want to be the best team possible when we step out on the field."
The spread attack has many varieties, each with its own wrinkles. Although it appears complicated, Thomas said the Cottonwood version is fairly simple, and that Romero is doing a great job running it.
"He is making great decisions with the football," Thomas said of his quarterback. "He has great arm strength, good footwork and is making good reads. He can make all the throws, and he can run it pretty well, too."
Romero has thrown for 28 touchdowns and rushed for five. He has thrown for 2,757 yards and rushed for over 300 more. Against Pine View in the semis, his feet accounted for 49 yards, including some big carries for first downs. The Colts run a zone-read rushing attack where Romero sticks the ball in running back Isi Sofele's belly and then reads whether or not the defensive ends are crashing toward Sofele or not. If they are, he pulls the ball out and carries it himself. If they don't react toward the back, he hands it off.
"It is a read play all the way," said Thomas. "He has been doing a good job in deciding what to do on that."
Whether the Colts can complete their perfect season and win the school's first-ever football title hangs in a large part on the play of Romero. But the senior leader wouldn't have it any other way.
"I love playing for this team," Romero said. "I have great teammates and we are all brothers. Being a quarterback behind this offensive line, and with the receivers and backs here, I have a great job."