by Cliff Mehrtens

DAVIDSON – To Evan Gates, there’s something a bit magical to being a receiver at Davidson Day.

“It’s like going to Disney World, knowing you’re going to get the ball,” Gates said. “In some offenses they only throw the ball a few times a game. We throw it about 85 percent of the time.”

With good reason.

Gates and fellow seniors Aaron Seward and Jordan Young are Division I college prospects. So is quarterback Will Grier. Teams with one dominant receiver feel fortunate. The Patriots have three.

The beauty for Davidson Day is they’re all polished targets. The hardship for defenses is all three can’t be double-teamed simultaneously.

Last season, Seward caught 65 passes for 1,075 yards and 14 touchdowns. Gates had 53 receptions for 850 yards and four scores. Young caught 50 passes for 675 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Add the 563 receiving yards by Davidson Day running back, rising junior Jordan Brown, and that’s four Patriots with more than 500 receiving yards. By comparison, only four other lake-area teams had one receiver with 500 or more yards last season.

“I think it’s really good to be a part of a group like that,” Young said. “We’re all being looked at by colleges. We’re all accountable people – being where you’re supposed to be, running the right routes and we block for each other.”

Davidson Day’s potent passing was the cornerstone of last year’s state championship in the school’s first varsity season. With Grier and all the receivers back, the Patriots are contenders.

“I expect to win, and win by a lot,” Gates said. “Expectations are very, very high since we won states last year. Obviously there’s a target on us because every team we’ll play is talking about beating a state champion. We all have the same drive – win another state championship and win every game.”

It’s been a hectic summer for the receiving trio, balancing recruiting trips, conditioning work and playing 7-on-7 tournaments. The recruiting should intensify as the season progresses.

None of the three receivers said they think about what life might be like on another high-school team, where they’d clearly be the top target.

“I’m kind of satisfied with how much I get the ball,” Seward said. “I’m glad to have other good receivers. When I’m covered it allows them to do some damage.”

Said Gates: “Sometimes you have to be patient because you don’t get the ball right away. But when you do, you just have to make the most of it.”

The trio had differing strategies on hand care, a vital part of protecting one of their assets.

Seward said he gets a manicure about every three weeks. Young said he uses hand lotion. Gates, well, is a minimalist.

“I just catch the ball,” he said, laughing.