His teammates call John Sauer "The Horse."
Whenever the stakes are high, the Patterson High football team "can jump on his back and ride," said coach Roger Wrenn.
And Sauer, all 6 feet 2, 205 pounds of him, usually carries the Clippers across the finish line ahead of the opposition.
"He is not a Johnny-come-lately," said Wrenn of his star running back. "He's played well for us for three years. There isn't much John can't do."
As Patterson drives toward a probable showdown against Dunbar for the Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference title, Sauer is front and center for a team that lost its quarterback, Buddy Edmond, because of an eligibility ruling before the season started.
That has left much of the offensive load on Sauer and sophomore quarterback Willie McGirt.
"Willie's doing a good job," said Sauer, one of the team's captains. "I really didn't know how Buddy leaving was going to affect us, but I think everybody has responded to it in a positive way."
Patterson is 6-1 and leading its division of the B Conference. The only blemish is a 30-0 humiliation by Dunbar that will serve as the team's motivating force for the remainder of the regular season.
Sauer will be right there waving the Clippers' flag. A demonstrative player, he almost missed the Dunbar game because of an alleged spearing of a Mervo player during the preceding week's game.
"The referee called a late hit and threw me out of the game," he said. "The following Monday, they said I could play, then Wednesday it was no, then Friday [the day of the Dunbar game] they finally decided it was OK. After they said no and they were looking at it again, it was on my mind the rest of the week."
Sauer could have been suspended for one game, but Patterson appealed and after review, the MSA ruled it was more of a piling-on penalty than a flagrant foul. Still, the uncertainty couldn't have served Sauer well before the most important game of the season.
But last Friday against Carver, there was no question he would play. As a result, he scored three touchdowns, rushed for 143 yards, caught a key 15-yard pass and had nine tackles and four assists in a 34-6 victory that gave the Clippers control of their division.
Overall, he has rushed for 921 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Some added weight from last off-season hasn't hurt.
"I ate a lot of peanut butter and potatoes," he said. "And I picked up 15 pounds. I did all right last year, but now I have the weight and I'm getting the ball a lot more, too."
Sauer's versatility is unquestioned. He is a strong blocker, has the power to run inside, the speed to go outside, punts adeptly and plays a terrific strong safety.
"He has excellent agility and comes up and cracks some people on defense. He's made some monstrous hits," said Wrenn. "Yet, he also has the ability to cover deep passes."
But there is question about where he is headed after he completes his college prep course at Patterson.
Sauer is an excellent baseball player who batted .531 with four homers for the B Conference champions last spring and expects to pitch more this year. He also has a strong arm in center field and might be selected in the major-league draft.
"I wouldn't mind playing both sports," he said. "I would like to go to a school where I can do that and be seen."
Sauer transferred to Patterson after playing freshman football at Dundalk. He was an honorable-mention All-Metro football choice last year at strong safety, and Wrenn believes he has the gifts to play almost anywhere collegiately.
"He's a nice combination of size, speed, strength and durability," said Wrenn. "You can get fast guys, but you don't get a lot of big, fast guys. I think he can play football at a high level."