It didn’t take much pressure for the fleet feet of Simon Gratz quarterback Amir Gillis to seek greener pastures when he was a sophomore.
Poise, however, now accompanies his puppies inside the pocket.
Friday afternoon at Germantown Academy, the Temple commit danced and darted away from the Patriots en route to a 31-7 nonleague victory.
Gillis finished 18 of 25 for 339 yards and four touchdowns in the air and 47 yards and a score on the ground. He also added an interception on defense.
When asked, the 5-foot-11, 192-pounder acknowledged that where he’s grown most is his ability to focus downfield amid pressure.
“Because before when I was back there, I used to be nervous,” he said. “I used to be too anxious to get out. Now, I just stay back there and stay poised. That was the biggest place I’ve grown because I’m still athletic enough to get out and run, but the biggest thing is my poise in the pocket.”
Friday’s second-quarter Houdini-act provided proof.
Ahead just, 6-0, about midway through the frame, Gillis faced pressure from his right as Joe Cawley beat his blocker and had a free run at the quarterback.
Gillis took off left but spun back right before momentarily losing his balance. With room ahead to roam, Gillis kept his focus downfield and fired a strike to Jawan Rodriguez for 38 yards and a score.
Gillis has been recruited to play safety for the Owls, but he’s open to filling whatever position the team needs.
“If DB doesn’t work out, I could play receiver,” he said. “I would play quarterback but I’m not [planning] for it. I’ll play it if they needed me.”
Gillis is certainly athletic enough to play multiple positions, adding to a talented group of skill-position players for the Public League Bulldogs (1-1).
Rodriguez finished with 107 yards and two scores on five catches (21 per grab). Maurice Mazzccua rushed for 57 yards on five carries and added 94 yards and a score on five catches.
Defensively, Gratz stifled the co-defending Inter-Ac champion Patriots (0-1) for much of the game (Malvern owns the other half of the title).
Nasir Nixon, a 5-9, 186-pound linebacker, wreaked havoc from both sides of scrimmage.
”Last week, the biggest thing was that we beat ourselves [defensively],” Gillis said of Gratz’s 34-13 loss to Coatesville. “We missed a lot of tackles and had a lot of penalties. This importance of this week was to wrap because we knew they had a big line.”
As a unit, the Bulldogs allowed only 73 total yards in the first half, and its offense racked up 410 yards. For the game, Gratz finished with 527 yards to 143 for the Patriots. Seven of GA’s 9 possessions ended in a punt and one ended with a Gillis interception in the redzone.
Colton Niedzielski added a late touchdown pass to Tayshaun Mack, but Germantown Academy mustered little offensive momentum.
Simon Gratz 6 18 7 0 31
Germantown Academy 0 0 0 7 7
G: Maurice Mazzccua 55 pass from Amir Gillis. Kick blocked.
G: Jawan Rodriguez 38 pass from Gillis. Kick blocked.
G: Rich Brown 44 pass from Gillis. Run failed.
G: Rodriguez 15 pass from Gillis. Run failed.
G: Gillis 10 run. Mikel Miller kick.
GA: Tayshaun Mack 20 pass from Colton Niedzielski. Michael Capone kick.