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Johns Hopkins quarterback Jonathan Germano takes road less traveled to D-III playoffs

Jonathan Germano's path to starting quarterback of the Johns Hopkins football team began five years ago, almost as a goof.

After lining up at a couple of positions on offense and playing mostly at safety during his first two seasons at Bergen Catholic High (N.J.), Germano caught the eye of Crusaders coach Nunzio Campanile.

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"My coach saw me messing around before practice, throwing the ball, and thought I had a pretty decent arm and thought I had other good characteristics and thought he could teach me how to throw and go from there," Germano recalled.

The No. 8 Blue Jays are grateful for Campanile's prescience, because Germano has been instrumental in helping them to their third consecutive 10-0 regular season and fifth straight Centennial Conference title and Division III tournament appearance.

When Western New England (10-0) comes to Homewood Field for a first-round game Saturday, it will face a Johns Hopkins offense led by the Division III leader in completion percentage (71.2) and fifth-most efficient passer (182.9). And Germano's 27 touchdown passes this fall eclipsed the program's previous single-season record of 25, set by Braden Anderson last year.

But the mark means little to Germano, who was quick to deflect credit.

"That's just the offense, starting with the offensive line," he said. "I've been sacked very few times, and the run game has been on fire this year, which opens the pass game up that much more. Coach [Greg Chimera, the team's offensive coordinator] is always getting us in good position with the play calls. So right now, I'm doing well, and we just want to continue that to the playoffs."

Germano's ascent took some time. In 2013, Germano watched Robbie Matey lead the offense, then backed up Anderson last fall. In his first two seasons, Germano threw 16 passes, completing nine for 67 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

Still, Germano found ways to contribute. He caught a touchdown pass against Juniata in 2013 and returned punts last year.

That athleticism has aided Germano, who has been sacked just 11 times and thrown just eight interceptions. Coach Jim Margraff said Germano's mobility is complemented by his ability to throw on the run.

"He's very creative back there, he's very sound with his basic reads, but when the play breaks down a little bit and we need him to be creative and get out of a jam, he's even better," Margraff said. "He'll be very unorthodox at times, but he's better throwing on the run than anyone I've seen."

Germano chuckled when asked about his prowess at finding receivers while avoiding the pass rush.

"Honestly, it's probably because I haven't played quarterback my whole life," he said. "I've got that mental clock in my head where as soon as I begin to see things break down, I'm just looking to get positive yards. Everybody's always working. The linemen continue to block, and the receivers work to get open."

Germano's achievements in his first year as a full-time starter might be surprising. But junior wide receiver Bradley Munday, a favorite target of Germano's, said his quarterback is obsessed with fine-tuning his game.

"He's a very hard worker," said Munday, who leads the Blue Jays in receptions (64), receiving yards (835) and touchdown catches (nine). "He wants to get better. He hates losing. So I'm not surprised at all. Some people might be surprised since this is his first year starting, but I'm not surprised at all, and I don't think anyone on this team is. He is the ultimate competitor, and he does what it takes to win."

Margraff said he appreciates Germano's ability to discuss what worked and what didn't when the offense walks off the field.

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"He understands what we're trying to accomplish through our offense and schemes," Margraff said. "He sees things very clearly during a game. Some guys can't communicate when they come off the field what they saw. He'll come off and tell you exactly why he did something: 'The safety moved here, the corner came down, and this is why I made this throw.' He sees it, and he can communicate it."

No matter what happens Saturday, Germano can be proud of one of the most productive seasons by a quarterback in school history. But his only concern is helping Johns Hopkins advance deep into the postseason.

"I just want to win," Germano said. "I just want to win more than everybody else. I don't really care who gets the credit. I don't care what my stats are. As long as we have more points than the other team, that's all I really care about."

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