September 11, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Mt. Blue's Backus, Abbott overcome injuries to play together


FARMINGTON -- Nate Backus has the speed, and Cam Abbott has the hands. Or maybe it's the other way around. All Mt. Blue High School football head coach Gary Parlin knows is he has two great wide receivers finally on the field together.

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BIG TIME PRODUCER: Mt. Blue wide receiver Cam Abbott, right, missed much of last season with a torn ACL. While Abbott was in the lineup last year, fellow receiver Nate Backus was out after finger surgery. Both are in the lineup this fall and form a potent duo.

Staff file photo by Michael G. Seamans

"I said all along, man would I love to have them both out there at the same time. Last Friday night was the first time," Parlin said during Wednesday's practice. "A lot of times, if you want to rotate your defense one way towards a certain player, you can't do that with those two guys. Both are good screen guys. Both have good hands and speed."

Last Friday was the season opener, and Mt. Blue fans were treated to a wide receiver show they thought they'd see during last season's run to the Class B state championship. Backus caught five passes for 116 and two touchdowns. Abbott had five catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

"Cam's got the hands, and I'd like to think I've got the wheels," Backus said.

Added Abbott: "I'm more of the possession receiver, and he's more of the speed guy."

Backus and Abbott will be keys for the Cougars when they host Lawrence on Friday night.

Both seniors, Abbott and Backus each missed time last season with an injury. Backus had offseason surgery to repair fingers on both hands that chronically dislocated and did not play his first game until the Cougars played at Leavitt in Week 6. That game was Abbott's last of the 2012 season. After the game, Abbott learned he'd played for weeks with a torn ACL in his right knee.

"I guess when you win a championship, you've got to have some luck, and that was luck in that one of the best players in our conference (Abbott) goes down, and we can replace him with someone that nobody knew about," Parlin said.

Backus was such an unknown in the second half of last season, that Gardiner, a team that played the Cougars in the regular season prior to Backus' return, wasn't ready for his speed when the teams met in the playoffs.

"At that time, we thought he was done for the year. Then the doctor gave him permission to come back," Parlin said.

Backus caught touchdown passes of 33 and 31 yards, the second coming late in the fourth quarter of the Cougars' 33-21 regional semifinal win. Backus finished the game with four catches for 118 yards.

Parlin said after the game, Gardiner coach Matt Burgess asked, "Where did No. 21 (Backus) come from?"

"It kind of worked out well. When Cam was injured I was back, but we knew we both wanted to be out there together. It's nice for this year," Backus said.

Abbott played on what he thought was a sore knee for a month, even catching two passes for 50 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown catch on the game's third play, against Leavitt in his final game of the season.

"I found out in Week 7, and it actually happened in Week 2 against Madison. So I played on it. It was devastating. I obviously wanted to be a part of that championship run," Abbott said.

Physically, Abbott and Backus are nothing alike. Abbott is 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds. Backus is 5-9, 150. But both have a knack for getting open. Abbott played running back growing up, and did not go out for football his sophomore year. When he returned last season, Parlin and the coaching staff didn't need another running back. A big receiver, on the other hand, would fit right in.

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