Maryville offense finding answers with athletic tight end
By Will Estep | (email@example.com)
Maryville tight end Logan Winders hasn’t been on the receiving end of a large amount of catches this season. When he has, though, everyone in the stadium knows most of the time it’s going to be a big play.
The former quarterback has caught five touchdown passes in 11 games for the Rebels this season. Having an athletic 6-foot 3-inch, 225-pound tight end has proved to be vital at times for the Maryville offense.
“Great size, very athletic, moves well and good hands,” Maryville coach George Quarles said of Winders. “Logan has really developed into a nice player. All he does is score touchdowns, it seems like. That has been a nice luxury for us to have somebody that size who can block, who can catch passes and who can run with it after they catch it.”
Winders played a key role all season long by lining up mostly in a three-point stance on the offensive line, but with his speed and coordination the senior has also made appearances in the slot and at wide receiver some.
He made his first start in the first round of the 2010 playoffs against Science Hill and hasn’t relinquished the role since.
“I feel like just being able to know what I’m doing and knowing where I fit into the role of the offense is able to complement everybody else’s play,” Winders said. “Whether I get the ball or not, it complements getting other people open and blocking for people.”
In his career, Winders and his senior teammates have captured two Class 6A state championships and mostly watched in as freshman in another BlueCRoss Bowl appearance. Having what has now amounts to 17 extra weeks of practice for those playoff runs has made a difference according to Winders.
“It gives you so much more time to develop yourself, and you are playing for something and it is an expectation,” Winders said heading into Friday’s second-round rematch with Oak Ridge. “I say it’s a blessing and a curse, because it’s awesome to be playing for that every year and we are very blessed, but it’s also when you have that high expectation and you are that losing team, you’re always remembered for that.”
Winders put in a lot of work over the offseason on his pass-catching abilities. That work and his athleticism led to what will probably go down as one of the most talked about — and certainly most widely watched — catches in Maryville High School history.
With Maryville trailing 14-7 against rival Alcoa and only 27 seconds left in the first half, Rebels quarterback Nick Myers hit Winders for an 18-yard touchdown on an acrobatic diving attempt in the corner of the end zone.
“It was a busted play and everybody was covered and Nick just had to scramble and I started running to one side and he threw it right where nobody else could get it and I just dove out there and got it,” Winders said of the now infamous play.
The catch ended up being number three on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 plays of the Week. The next few weeks at school, plenty of classmates brought up his national notoriety.
“Not as much making fun, sometimes it was, it wasn’t making fun that I made it, but they were just kind of chiding me, trying to be funny,” Winders said.
As Maryville prepares to face Oak Ridge again, Quarles feels that coaches have to keep an eye on Winders anytime he steps foot on the field.
“They are aware of No. 16,” Quarles said. “They are aware of where he is, both in the run game and passing game. He is somebody you can move around a little bit.”