Canton-Galva quarterback may one-up his brother
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Cody Savage never expected to be a high school quarterback, and certainly not one who could set an eight-man record for passing touchdowns.
Savage, a senior at Canton-Galva, was always going to be a running back.
“When he was young, he was so elusive that he was the running back,” said his dad, Jeff, who is Canton-Galva’s coach. “As a freshman and sophomore, (Cody’s brother) Bo was the quarterback, so we had to use him somewhere. He was very small, so we used him at receiver.”
But three games into his senior season, Savage (6-foot-3, 175 pounds) has 17 passing touchdowns, 35 short of matching his brother’s state record.
“He has an amazing arm,” junior running back Trey Moddelmog said. “He can chuck it all the way down the field. He has great downfield vision, and he puts the ball right on the spot.”
Savage has completed 42 of 61 passes for 829 yards and no interceptions. He has 226 rushing yards on 13 carries and five touchdowns. He’s scored twice on kickoff returns, once on a punt return and as a defensive back, has two interceptions.
Despite such strong numbers, Savage’s knowledge of the quarterback position is far less than his brother’s. Bo Savage threw 143 career touchdowns while Central-Burden’s quarterback, setting a national eight-man record.
“Bo was more of a pure passer,” said Jeff Savage of his son, who is now a redshirt freshman quarterback at Bethany College. “We did a lot of throwing with Bo.”
Cody Savage has always been more of a runner — also a track athlete, he changes directlion quickly and was timed in the pro agility in 4.07 seconds — so Jeff Savage has chosen to take advantage of it.
“My brother is definitely way quicker, way faster,” Bo Savage said. “I’d say he’s probably a better athlete than me, but what I think the thing I have over him is just kind of knowing the game a little better. I use that to my advantage.”
Cody Savage doesn’t have the mechanics and arm motion that his brother does, either, but any deficiencies in his play can be linked to his lack of time playing quarterback.
The Savages moved high schools, from Central-Burden to Canton-Galva, to be closer to Bethany so they could watch Bo Savage play. When Jeff Savage, who also made the switch between schools as coach, realized Canton-Galva needed a quarterback for the 2012 season, Cody Savage started training for the position.
He averaged 330 passing yards through the first two games but developed an issue with his pelvis, which was out of alignment and putting pressure on his hamstring.
“He developed it in his sophomore season in track,” Jeff Savage said. “He started using improper muscles while running.”
Cody Savage’s injury was the same kind his older sister, Kelsey, had battled. He saw a specialist in Nebraska and did a series of exercises.
“That helped engage the correct muscles that rotate the pelvis back into alignment,” Jeff Savage said. “… It was really painful.”
Even worse, Cody Savage missed the majority of the season, then had to sit out one-third of the basketball season.
He’s not used to merely watching, and he struggled.
“Football’s probably my favorite sport, and I really want to be out there and show off my skill sets, and I wasn’t able to do that,” he said.
Savage’s return to quarterback has been smooth. Sure, he still has plenty of room for growth, but he has the instincts for the position and he’s grown up around the game, so he knows every position.
And when he’s in trouble, well, he runs.
“He’s able to escape things because of his feet and he’ll throw on the run,” Jeff Savage said. “Where Bo is more of a pocket passer and has that poise and can see down the field, he doesn’t have the feet that Cody has.
“… I think he relies probably too much on his athleticism and he doesn’t mentally think out the game probably as well as Bo does because Bo is not as mobile or as athletic as Cody. So Cody thinks that ‘with my feet, I can solve the problem.’”
While Cody Savage may not have all the ins and outs of the quarterback position down pat, he prides himself on his leadership.
As a coach’s son, he’s heard countless sermons about the importance of team. Engage him in a conversation about football, and his feelings about his team become clear quickly.
Those 23 touchdowns? They’re because of his offensive line and receivers.
Winning the first three games? Because of his teammates.
“I’ve heard it from my dad, and I’m glad I heard it,” Savage said of his focus on team. “I don’t want to be egotistical at all, and I really agree with him. I want to be part of a winning program.
“That’s a better feeling than playing (for example) a basketball game and scoring 30 points and losing. A better feeling would be to not score as many and not lose the game.”
Even when discussing his frustration with sitting out most of last season, he focused on the team.
“You’re part of the team,” he said. “I enjoyed watching my teammates and congratulating them. It’s not about me. It’s about the team and what I could do to help.”
Savage doesn’t have a burning desire to beat his brother’s touchdown record. He’s set on an undefeated regular season.
But let’s say he does break Bo Savage’s record, would his brother be upset?
Bo Savage laughed.
“I suppose I’d be a little mad at him at first, but then I’d definitely be proud of him,” he said. “I’d have to be. Records are meant to be broken, and if it’s by your little brother, that would be special.”