It took Jack Coan four weeks to master the intricacies of Sayville’s complex, high-speed spread offense. He was an eighth-grader at the time.
“I don’t bring up underclassmen for the playoffs, but I brought Jack up after his JV season,” Sayville coach Rob Hoss said of Coan’s indoctrination into the varsity offense in November 2012. “Just from standing next to me and listening, he learned the entire offense. No reps whatsoever in those practices. He was too young. He could only stand and watch. It was amazing that he could learn it all in such a short period of time.”
Those four weeks of knowledge gained when he was a slim 13-year-old quarterback translated into four years of excellence for Coan, who will graduate early and enroll at Wisconsin next month. He set Long Island single-season records for touchdown passes (40) and passing yards (3,431) in 2014 and Long Island career records in the same categories (128 TD passes, 9,787 passing yards).
Coan added two more bold-faced lines to his high school resume when he was announced Monday night as the 2016 Hansen Award winner as Suffolk’s most outstanding player at the county awards dinner in Hauppauge.
Coan was a unanimous choice of the voters. The other Hansen finalists were Jeremy Ruckert (Lindenhurst), Dylan Laube (Westhampton) and Chris Gray (Shoreham-Wading River). Coan also won the Boomer Esiason Award as Suffolk’s top quarterback.
“This year, he was able to throw the ball into all the windows he couldn’t fit it into as a freshman and sophomore,” Hoss said. “His physical maturation helped and he definitely gained arm strength.”
Coan, who has grown to 6-4, 195 pounds, worked with former Giants quarterback Phil Simms last summer, with the emphasis on rotating his body to get more on his throws. The results were noticeable, even if they didn’t necessarily show up in his statistics.
“Statistics only give half the picture,” Hoss said. Coan threw the fewest passes of his four varsity seasons, 220, but completed 158 for his highest percentage, 71.8. In fact, his completion percentage improved each season and his interception rate dropped.
“Most of our games were lopsided, and the score of the game dictates how you call your offense. Plus, he was pulled out of the game early many times,” Hoss said.
Coan threw for 2,162 yards and 31 touchdowns, with only four picks. He also rushed for 766 yards and 11 touchdowns. Last year, when the Golden Flashes didn’t have a lead running back, Coan rushed for 1,275 yards and 17 touchdowns and threw for 2,499 yards and 36 scores.
“As a junior and a senior, he turned some passing attempts into rushing attempts because that’s what we needed,” Hoss said. “His stats went down this year, but to me, completion percentage is very important. His ability to complete the ball at a high percentage in the meaningful moments of games was huge. The percentage of minutes he played in games and his percentage of our offense were ridiculous.”
But even Coan had one bad day. Actually, it was only half-bad.
Against Westhampton on Oct. 29, Coan made numerous mistakes in the first half and the Golden Flashes trailed for the first time, 7-6, at the break. Hoss lit into him and Coan stood tall, as he has in the pocket his entire career.
“The thing that was most impressive was the game against Westhampton, when I roughed him up verbally,” Hoss said. “After that, the coaches were talking and I hear Jack tell the team, ‘This is on me. The second half, we will change the game.’ He took it on himself. He showed his maturity and stood up after taking a tongue-lashing. And we blew them out. He was unreal in the second half.”
Coan threw for three touchdowns and had several long runs as Sayville scored 29 straight points in a 35-7 victory. “It was a watershed moment for me. He was a quiet leader who became a vocal leader when he had to,” Hoss said.
Coan and his family will make their official visit to Wisconsin this weekend, the only one he chose to take, even though the NCAA allows five. Once he verbally committed to the Badgers last March, Coan elected not to waste anyone’s time or money on visits to schools he wasn’t going to attend.
“He is so beyond ready to play at Wisconsin and I’m so excited for him,” Hoss said. “He’s graduating a half-year before his classmates. He’s missing out on the second half of his senior year in high school. There’s a part of him that will miss being here and graduating with his class. It’s unique, but because of the position he plays, he has to leave early.”
Coan will sign his financial commitment later this month and will be fully enrolled as a college student on Jan. 11. “He’ll be on TV for spring ball on the Big Ten Network. And he’ll play in the spring game,” Hoss said. “I’ll be there for sure.”
It’s safe to assume Coan will have mastered the Wisconsin offense by then.