By Dan Harrison
---- — Some kids were born to play quarterback.
For Hamilton-Wenham senior Trevor Lyons, the position didn’t come quite so naturally. He had to work at it.
Through that work, Lyons formed a bond with the position — one he wasn’t willing to let go of when he received offers to play Division 1-AA football in the secondary or at wideout. Ultimately, it was his desire to be under center in a small school atmosphere that led Lyons to sign with Bates College.
“(Playing QB) was a key part of it. Other schools like Wesleyan and Holy Cross were recruiting me to play wideout and corner, but Bates was pushing for me to go there, and I wanted to keep on playing the position I love,” Lyons said.
It’s not the accolades or the glory that appeal to Lyons, who isn’t the type to self-aggrandize. What he appreciates most about being under center is the leadership it requires.
Bates could offer Lyons that leadership role and more. The NESCAC school in Lewiston, Maine has a very similar atmosphere and feel to the Hamilton-Wenham community Lyons grew up and thrived athletically in.
“I think it’s the leadership aspect I love so much. Starting under center is a whole different world,” Lyons admitted. “It can be nerve-wracking, but once you overcome it, it can be a great feeling.
“Me being from a small town going to a small college is a perfect fit; I can carry on what I’ve been doing my whole life. When I stepped on campus (at Bates), it felt right. They had the most support for me and were the most interested. I was getting calls every week, and the vibe I got felt right.”
He’ll be playing for head coach/quarterbacks coach Mark Harriman, who has coached the Bobcats for 13 seasons. Over the past three years, he’s switched to an option-style offense out of the pistol formation — just the kind of offense a tough, elusive runner like Lyons could excel in.
Lyons may have the chance to start right away with the departure of Trevor Smith, who led Bates to a 5-3 record last year with 487 yards rushing and five touchdowns. The Bobcats also graduated starting running back and former Pingree star Patrick George, so the team will need to get rushing yards from somewhere.
“We are very excited to have Trevor as part of our program,” Harriman explained. “His athletic ability and competitive nature are exactly the traits we are looking for in a QB.”
Lyons’ hard work has a tendency to yield results in a hurry. His high school coach, Andrew Morency, can speak to that.
“I think Trev, as a freshman, was a small kid looking to make a big impact. He isn’t a lanky kid, but he isn’t that big. He doesn’t throw it 100 yards. He’s certainly blessed with speed, but to me, he came out of nowhere as an underdog,” Morency said. “To me, he’s a (Doug) Flutie type of player who’s always making plays, twisting and turning and staying on his feet to get first downs or make whatever play you need.”
While his passing game was in its early stages of development his junior year, Lyons relied on his most natural ability — his speed. Behind a big offensive line, Lyons dashed his way for 1,420 yards, a single-season Generals’ record. Using the read-draw play with running back Elliot Burr, he also tied the program’s single-game points record with 30 in a game against Bishop Fenwick. H-W went undefeated and won its first playoff game (over longtime Cape Ann League foe Newburyport) before falling 16-14 to Bourne Academy in the Division 3A Super Bowl.
Lyons hit senior Matt Putur on a 44-yard touchdown pass to give the Generals a first-half lead in the Super Bowl, but the throw actually separated Lyons’ shoulder and he was out for the rest of the game.
He came back this past season after surgery and proved to be even more dangerous. Working on his passing game in the offseason and, with the infusion of sophomore wideout Jimmy Campbell and the emergence of junior Christian Ecker, Lyons added another arrow in his quiver.
“It’s one of the more unsung, incredible stories. He was a running QB by trade, and people said you can beat H-W by letting him throw,” said Morency, whose father, Roger, and sister Mary Alice are both Bates graduates. “And against Amesbury, Trev threw for over 300 yards and people saw him throw to a target on the run. He threw the fade ball like it was his bread and butter.”
Lyons would break the H-W single-season passing touchdown record in his final game with the Generals on Thanksgiving against Ipswich. He finished with 15 on the season, including a single-game record tying four TDs against North Reading.
“A lot of teams thought we’d be in shotgun almost every play having me back there, but we didn’t go away from the drop back from under center,” Lyons said. “So I worked on that and our fades and all our other routes. The timing was the key thing.”
Morency said that Lyons’ graduating will signal the end of an era in Generals’ football.
“I told people I don’t think we are going to see another Trevor Lyons in a long time, if ever,” he said. “He had 40 rushing TDs, 25 passing TDs (and 6 receiving TDs) in his career. He had a hand in over 70 touchdowns. It’s insane thinking about it that way,” Morency said. “He’s a modest kid who is going to downplay it all, which I think shows true greatness.”
When asked about the heavy praises received from his high school coach, Lyons felt honored but believes the H-W community is bound to produce more great players.
“It feels good, but I know with the program and the coaches at the high school, and at the youth levels there will be someone coming up and taking charge and being a leader,” Lyons said. “That’s what our community thrives at.”