GOTHENBURG, Neb. (KNOP) - Growing up, Maguire Bartlett played running back for his flag football teams.
Bartlett is in his third year starting at quarterback for Gothenburg, and leads the team in passing, and is one of the leaders in both rushing and tackles (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)
"I usually wanted to play running back. When I started out back in flag football was running back. I played quarterback in 7th grade for the first time," Bartlett said.
However, it turns out Bartlett was better off under center, as he earned the starting spot for Gothenburg as a sophomore.
"He's been our starting quarterback for three years, so he was pretty mature, and a good decision maker, even back then, but he's elevated his game a lot this year," head coach Craig Haake said.
Bartlett is not only a star on offense for the Swedes, he is also a starting outside linebacker. However, injuries on the defense left a need at Mike linebacker, that Bartlett was asked to fill.
"He's a great outside linebacker, but we've had to play him in the middle. So, he's been the quarterback of our defense, and the quarterback of our offense for half the year. But, he stepped up and has done a fantastic job," Haake said.
"It was a new spot for me playing the middle there. I'm used outside backer and going into coverage more. but playing Mike, being closer to the ball, and getting in on a few more runs, it's been good," Bartlett said, "It took a little time to adjust, but the coaches are confident in what I can do, and it made me feel a lot better about moving there."
Bartlett is a hard worker, and a leader for the team, but he leads more by example.
"Maguire is a quiet kind of guy. He likes to get work done in a silence, he doesn't talk much, but he always likes to get work done. He's a great leader, not a very vocal kind of leader. But, he's always someone you can trust," said senior running back and safety Conner Baker.
No matter what happens in a game, the Swedes know they can count on Bartlett to make plays.
"He just kind of maintains an even keel. He's confident in what he can do, and I think he exudes that confidence. I think these guys around him expect him to play well, and know he's going to play well, and know he's going to lead them," Haake said.
Bartlett received a new nickname from one of his coaches this season.
"We call him 'shark.' I don't really know where that term came from, but our defensive coordinator loves to call him 'shark,'" Baker said.
According to Barltett, the 'shark' nickname evolved from a few other nicknames.
"Coach [Tom] Scott, our defensive coach, started calling me Mag, or the Meg, after the Megalodon movie. then I got the shark and shark boy and all sorts of them," Bartlett said.
Through seven weeks, the Swedes are 6-1, and on top of leading the team in passing, Bartlett is near the top in both rushing, and tackling. To the Swedes, Bartlett is consistent and reliable on the field.
"That kid has just showed up for three years in a row. He's been the one steady rock. Honestly, to me that's what Maguire is. On Friday night, I know he's going to be there, I know I'm going to get a solid, solid game from him," Haake said.
In his free time, Bartlett likes to hang out with friends. He also is one of the top players on the Gothenburg basketball team, and, according to Haake, a 'mediocre' golfer. Bartlett hopes to play either football or basketball in college, but has no definite plans to as of now.