Matsook leaning on Adamson at Rochester
Jasson Adamson has played football in the parking lots of Heinz Field. Now, the Rochester quarterback will get a chance to play inside the stadium.
Adamson was a spectator for Rochester's other five trips to Heinz Field for the WPIAL Class A championship game since the facility opened in 2001.
"It was always a big day," Adamson said. "We'd get there early and play football in the parking lot before the game. We'd play tab, though. We were young, but we were smart enough to know not to play tackle football on the pavement."
This time, Adamson will play on Heinz Field's grass surface, where Rochester (12-0) will face Clairton (11-1) on Friday morning in the Class A final.
"It was always my dream to get the chance to play at Heinz Field," Adamson said. "It's really exciting to get the opportunity."
Rochester has been a regular in the championship game over the past two decades and won seven WPIAL titles since 1991. However, Adamson has given Rochester a dimension that its other teams never had — a passer capable of making big plays.
Adamson became the first quarterback in Rochester history to throw for 1,000 yards in the regular season, finishing with 1,097 and 14 touchdowns. He has continued to shine in the playoffs, completing 14 of 21 passes for 286 yards and two scores.
It has been a impressive season for a guy who played wide receiver last season.
"We had a quarterback last season and we probably could have played Jasson some there," Rochester coach Gene Matsook said. "We knew, though, that Jasson was going to eventually be our quarterback. I don't know if any of us on the coaching staff thought he would be this good in his first season as a starter, but we knew he had a lot of talent. He's given us a new wrinkle."
Adamson played quarterback in Rochester's youth program and on the Rams' undefeated junior high team two years ago. He is also one of Rochester's fastest players, making him a dual threat who can also beat defenses on scrambles or designed running plays.
"I feel comfortable as a quarterback," Adamson said. "Playing wide receiver was OK, but I'm a quarterback. This is my position, and it's been a lot of fun playing quarterback on the varsity and winning a lot of games."
Rochester does not have any receivers with gaudy statistics. Adamson likes to spread the ball around, and he threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to tight end Terry Gettings in the third quarter that broke a 7-7 tie and proved to be the difference in Rochester's 14-7 victory over North Catholic in the semifinals last Friday night.
What stands out about Adamson's season is his accuracy — he has connected on an impressive 69.8 percent of his passes, completing 74 of 106 for 1,383 yards and 16 touchdowns with only one interception.
To put that into context, the Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning led the NFL in completion percentage with a 69.7 mark coming into the weekend.
"Jasson has a real knack for finding the open receiver," Matsook said. "He does a good job of staying in the pocket when he has to, but defenses also have to be wary of him running the ball and that helps the receivers get open."
"I've really been able to develop good timing with the receivers," Adamson said. "Our wideouts and tight ends and running backs are all good. They can all catch the ball."