Nick Maher's role in North Catholic's passing game underwent a drastic shift between his sophomore and junior seasons.
In 2018, he was one of several options at wideout, catching 17 passes for 283 yards. His work over that offseason led to a starting role and with that, more opportunities.
Last year, he became Zack Rocco's go-to receiver, snagging a Butler County-high 46 balls worth 853 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns.
“I put in a lot of work to improve my speed and lifted weights as much as I could,” said Maher, a Meridian resident, who continued to show such commitment over the last several months, despite the restrictions that came with the quarantine.
“I started just working out at home, but my dad knows a guy who owns a gym in New Kensington. He gave us a key and we were able to go there, had the whole place to ourselves.”
Maher (6-foot-2, 190 pounds), who hopes to play in college at the Division I level, has added improved footwork and agility to his skill set. That has him primed for a stellar senior season.
On the other side of the ball, he will play outside linebacker after starting a few games at defensive end as a junior. He will again serve as the team's punter.
North head coach Patrick O'Shea sees Maher as the total package — not only talented, but with a sincere desire to be a good teammate.
“Nick has great hands and a great release off the line,” he said. “He makes good cuts during routes and is an awesome blocker, never gets out-worked on the field.
“He has become an all-around wide receiver, but also authentically loves the game of football. He loves it for the right reasons.”
The Trojans graduated star quarterback Zack Rocco, but Maher is confident the passing game will continue to expose opposing defenses.
Juniors Joey Prentice and Carson Laconi are competing to be the team's starting signal caller.
“I had a great relationship on the field with Zack and we'll miss him,” Maher said, “but both of these guys are really good.”
The 2020 season will be unprecedented due to less games, less or no fans in the stands and less teams qualifying for the postseason. But there will be football and for that, Maher is thankful.
“The players coming back, we have that bond and it's a really good relationship,” he said. “The situation is what it is. All we can do is worry about us and take it week to week.”