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Soba Passing His Test of Switching Roles at Nashoba

October 11, 2018

Nashoba Tech football quarterback Jose Soba at practice with assistant coach Ryan Strianese. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

WESTFORD -- Jose Soba spent last fall on the receiving end of quarterback Vinny Eramo’s pin-point aerials.

In his first season of varsity football at Nashoba Tech, Soba, a slot receiver with sure hands, formed a dynamic pass-catching duo with Eramo, who as a senior was named the Central Mass. Div. 8 offensive MVP after accumulating 3,280 total yards of offense (1,757 yards rushing and 1,523 yards passing) and 49 total touchdowns (23 TD passes).

Soba caught 10 of Eramo’s TD passes, finishing with 31 receptions for 549 yards as Nashoba Tech won the CMass. Div. 8 title. Eramo’s graduation left a huge void in the Vikings’ attack. But after starting this season at receiver, Soba was switched to quarterback due to a hand injury to Game 1 starter Eli Norton, who is now a fixture at running back.

The junior from Shirley has proven to be as adept at taking snaps from center as he was catching passes over the middle. Soba, a safety on defense, has guided the Vikings to four straight wins while quickly emerging out from beneath the giant shadow cast by Eramo.

Soba has passed for 505 yards and six touchdowns, while rushing for 269 yards and five scores.

“I had never played quarterback,” said Soba. “I basically picked it up three days before my first time going into a game. I had always been a receiver. I had never thrown a pass in a (organized) football game prior to this year. Actually, last year was my first time playing football since I was in like third grade.”

With Soba leading the way, Nashoba Tech’s first season in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference Small School Division has been a memorable one. The Vikings (4-1 CAC Small) will host Greater Lowell Tech (4-1, 4-0 CAC Small) Friday (7 p.m.) in a game that will go a long way toward deciding the league crown.

“I’m privileged to follow in Vinny’s footsteps,” said Soba, who stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 140 pounds. “He’s so good. Playing quarterback after him, I felt extreme pressure at first. But I knew I had what it takes to do it.

“It was hard learning to control the entire offense at first. At receiver all I had to do was run my route and catch the ball. At quarterback, I have to know what everyone does. There’s some pressure, but it’s fun getting to make decisions that impact the offense.”

Eramo has helped Soba survive the learning curve all quarterbacks must navigate.

“He’s actually come to some practices and helped me out,” said Soba, who is studying auto body at Nashoba Tech. “He’s given me a bunch of really good advice. He’s just like a big brother to me. He’s someone I look up to.”

Soba has done a great job spreading the ball around. Tyler Alden (3 TD receptions), Randy Delva (1 TD reception), Ryan Pearson (1 TD reception) and Norton (1 TD reception) have caught scoring passes.

Norton (468 yards rushing, 4 TDs), Luke McKenna (209 yards rushing, 3 TDs) and Brent Robinson (109 yards rushing, 2 TDs) have spearheaded the ground game.

“He scored 10 touchdowns on 31 catches last year so we knew when the ball was in his hands good things happened for us,” said Nashoba Tech coach James Creed. “And it’s the same now that he’s playing quarterback. For a kid who has never played quarterback, he has a real nice touch.

“He’s a kid everyone likes. It helps to have a senior running back in Eli Norton, who is a punishing runner. That makes it easier for him to throw the ball. We run a lot of zone read. We take what the defense gives us. If people start covering (receivers), Jose runs. If they come up (to stop the run), he drops it off.”

Soba is a point guard on the Vikings’ basketball team. He averaged 14 points a game last year and was a Colonial Athletic League all-star.

“The skills that make him a threat (on the basketball court) have carried over,” said Creed. “The idea of distributing the ball and seeing the floor make him a good quarterback. He’s real athletic. He’s probably more quick than fast. He’s a kid that just wants to win. He’s team oriented. A lot of our kids are because they know they have to rally together from different towns in order to be successful.”

Soba is quick to point out the role his teammates have played in helping Nashoba Tech build off the momentum generated from last season’s playoff run.

“I have a real good team behind me,” said Soba. “My teammates play a huge role in any success I have. When we win games, you look at the stats, and it’s all spread out. Everyone did their part. We’re winning as a team.”

Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi

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