By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun
1:36 PM EST, December 13, 2013
Archbishop Spalding, quarterback, senior
Every conversation about Abey seems to come back to one word — tough.
At 6-2, 205 pounds, the senior was not only physically tough but mentally tough in leading the No. 4 Cavaliers (8-3) to third place in the area's toughest conference, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.
"Everything runs through Zach," Spalding coach Kyle Schmitt said after taking over the program earlier this year.
Schmitt changed the offense from a wing-T to a read option and put the ball and the decisions in Abey's hands.
"Zach had a great knack for it," Schmitt said. "He had a great understanding for it, plus he's a great runner. We basically were able to be a two-back running team with only one back in the backfield. We could put Zach back there with the fullback and spread the defense out and ultimately run at them and get great opportunities in the box. Plus, he runs like a tailback. He's 200 pounds and runs inside the tackles really well."
The Cavaliers, a B Conference team three years ago, defeated everyone in the A Conference except No. 1 McDonogh, a 23-12 loss, and No. 2 Gilman, a 29-21 loss.
Best known for his running ability, Abey carried the ball 238 times for 1,663 yards, averaging 6.95 yards per carry and 150.3 per game, and scored 19 touchdowns.
"He's really a tailback playing quarterback," McDonogh coach Dom Damico said. "He's a great runner. He's very physical, strong, tough to tackle and he's very aggressive. He's such a strong kid that he's hard to bring down."
Abey also completed 65-of-136 passes for 874 yards and 10 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He had a hand in 64 percent of the team's total offensive yardage and he also played defense. At safety, he recorded 37 solo tackles, 13 assisted tackles and six interceptions.
For a program that has been in transition for four years — moving to the A Conference, suffering through the illness and death of coach Mike Whittles, carrying on under interim coach Brian Probst and adjusting to Schmitt — Abey has been a steadying influence.
"For Spalding football, he's meant a lot," Schmitt said. "At times, he put the program on his back and we're going to miss having someone I call our emergency button.
"At Loyola, we were trying to run the clock out earlier this year and we called five runs for Zach. Calvert Hall, it's a 21-21 game and it's the last drive and we called quarterback run, quarterback run, quarterback run. Fourth-and-one anywhere, we pretty much dialed up his number. And that's just as an offensive player. That's not to mention that he's the last line of defense and he really kept us in games at times because 10 yard runs didn't become 30-yard runs, because he was there to make the tackle.
"Overall, he's just a tremendous leader, great character and he's really tough. I thought our team was extremely tough this year mentally and physically and Zach set the tone for that."
Abey, who will play in the Baltimore Touchdown Club All-Star Game Saturday and in the Maryland Crab Bowl Dec. 21, has committed to play quarterback at Buffalo.
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