By Sean Lynch
Section 9 Insider Staff
NEWBURGH — Newburgh Free Academy quarterback Derek Lane knows what he has to do to help his team win.
The Goldbacks didn’t have Lane on the field much last year because they wanted to use both Terry Anderson and Jadon Munroe in a spread formation. By doing so, Anderson took the majority of the snaps at quarterback last season.
This season, Lane is 8-1, helping the Goldbacks to their best regular season record since 2013.
Their only loss came against New Jersey powerhouse River Dell Academy on Sept. 21.
Last week in the Class AA semifinals, he threw for 152 yards on six attempts in a 49-15 win over Washingtonville. In his last two games, Lane is 13-of-16 with 368 yards on passes of 10-or-more yards.
Lane’s best quality on the field isn’t his accuracy, his mobility or his arm strength — it’s his leadership.
“Knowing the plays and making sure my teammates are aware of what plays we’re running is my best quality as a quarterback,” Lane said.
Knowing the plays has been a challenge for him prior to this season. He was a wide receiver for most of his youth football career, until his coach told him to try playing quarterback in ninth grade.
“My coach told me I had a great arm, so he put me in as a quarterback,” Lane said. “I never realized (as a quarterback) that you have to think of that much. Over the years, I got the hang of it and started loving it more and more each year.”
Lane compares his style of play to former Baylor standout QB Robert Griffin III, someone who he looks up to.
Newburgh wide receiver Kam King and Lane have been best friends since middle school. When Lane throws the ball, King has been one of his favorite targets. Two weeks ago against Monroe-Woodbury, King had a career-high 155 yards.
“We’re so used to each other that when he throws the ball in my direction, he trusts that I’m catching the ball,” King said.
King also noticed “a fire in Lane’s belly” during off-season workouts. “This summer during off-season workouts, he would come in every day ready to go,” he said. “He would come to the field all summer and work on things like his footwork and accuracy.”
The Goldbacks use an offensive formation called the wing. In the wing formation, a quarterback receives the snap on the fly. The other three running backs line up on the same side of the quarterback in various arrangements.
The first known use of the wing formation, was in 1924, when legendary college coach Knute Rockne used it with Notre Dame. It’s an archaic formation nowadays, only a few high school teams use it as a novelty.
“Lots of people don’t realize the amount of timing and footwork that goes into being a wing quarterback,” said Newburgh coach Bill Bianco. “It looks normal when we run it, but you have to time the hand-offs perfectly. When we try and draw defenders off of the run, we pass the ball on play-action plays. Both his timing and footwork have improved this season.”
In a rematch against Monroe-Woodbury, Bianco needs Lane to keep playing the way he’s been playing.
“I don’t need him to play like Superman out there,” he said. “Derek is like our point guard. We need him to manage the game, distribute the ball, and give the receivers a chance to catch the ball — I have confidence he’ll be able to do that for us.”