Crazier things have happened
Pancrazi said he didn't understand the football lingo when formations and plays were being called. Furthermore, some plays were run incorrectly.
“I was real hesitant to start running plays,” Pancrazi said. “They were talking stuff I've never even heard before.
“I was kind of curious about just going back to receiver and trying to re-do that whole trip. But coach (Jay Denton) really wanted me to keep on trying and go for it.”
This trip down memory lane happened about a mere 14 months ago. Oh, how the times have changed.
Pancrazi will lead the Hawks to battle against the Lake Havasu Knights in a Gila Valley Region contest with major playoff implications at 7 tonight in Veterans Memorial Stadium.
A Knights victory would crown them as GVR champs while a Hawks win will likely mean next week's match against Cibola will be for the region title.
Pancrazi enters the game with nine touchdowns and five interceptions, and has thrown a touchdown in seven consecutive games. He's also completed more than half of his passes in six of his eight starts this season.
Not bad for someone who didn't start playing football until high school and who didn't play quarterback until last season. But Denton saw potential in Pancrazi.
“I saw he had a pretty good arm and it looked like he had the ability to throw the ball,” Denton said. “One of the main attributes of a quarterback is to throw the ball. But he has the ability to scramble and he's kind of a runner also.”
As far as quarterbacks go, they don't come as raw as Pancrazi. When Denton named Pancrazi his starting signal-caller, both had plenty to adjust to.
Pancrazi said not only did he have to learn the plays, but he had to learn where everybody was positioned. Meanwhile, Denton had to teach Pancrazi basic quarterback tools such as footwork, the three-step drop, reading defenses and a proper delivery.
Pancrazi's throwing motion might have been the toughest to develop because he said he grew up playing baseball. He used to split time between shortstop and pitcher, the latter of which almost always requires an elongated motion. In football, however, such a delivery would allow defenses precious seconds to determine where a quarterback might throw the ball.
During this past summer, Pancrazi said he trained with Denton for three hours every morning – with one hour dedicated to quarterback mechanics. As much work as Pancrazi put in, changing his throwing motion didn't really click until the second game of the season.
In the season opener against Mesa-Westwood, Pancrazi threw four interceptions in the Hawks 48-21 loss, the team's lone defeat this year.
“After throwing four interceptions, I wasn't too sure about the season,” Pancrazi said. “I was kind of hesitant in like wondering where I'd be and how I'd be doing. I expected (big) things from myself but after that game, I really had to focus on my footwork and throwing motion a lot.
“I told the team I would never play that bad again. That was the worst I played all season, so I've held up to it so far.”
Since his vow, Pancrazi said he has watched more college football and even attended a couple of Arizona Wildcats game in an attempt to study other quarterback's techniques. Pancrazi has also eliminated much of the elongated delivery and said his throws have become more accurate.
Today, Pancrazi said the easiest part of his job is just handing off to his running backs whenever he gets tired of throwing the pigskin.
“He's a good high school quarterback now,” Denton said.