Few high school football players have ever caught as many passes in one game thrown by the opposing team as Ryan Rebar did last Friday evening at Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield.
Foxcroft Academy’s road test against the Huskies was just Rebar’s13th game of organized football, because the junior cornerback and wide receiver from Harmony never played the sport until transferring to the Dover-Foxcroft school last fall from neighboring Dexter, where he previously played soccer.
But once he picked off a pass thrown by MCI quarterback Patrick Noonan with about a minute left in the first half to help preserve a 13-12 Foxcroft lead, he didn’t stop. Rebar had another interception in the third quarter, then three more in the fourth period to finish the game with a stunning five interceptions.
Rebar personally ended all but one of the Huskies’ second-half possessions — and he also caught a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes from his own quarterback, Chris Shorey, to help the Ponies pull away to a 33-12 victory and remain undefeated through three weeks of the LTC Class C season.
“Every time the ball went in the air I wanted to make a play on it,” said the 5-foot-9-Rebar. “I did the best I could, and I just concentrated on remembering my defensive assignment and knowing not to get beat over the top. It worked out that I made a few plays on the ball.”
Rebar’s interception fest is an LTC record, according to conference statistician Mike Archer, and likely is a state record.
Only 12 players nationwide are credited with six or more interceptions in a game, according to the National High School Sports Record Book 2011, published by the National Federation of State High School Associations. None of those players are from Maine.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Foxcroft coach Danny White. “Two of them were situations where they tried to throw over the top and he turned into a receiver and went and got the ball. On one he stepped in front of the receiver, he just broke on the ball. The fourth was a jump ball and he won it, and the last one was an overthrow.”
The national record is nine interceptions in a game set by Ken Golin of Broome, S.C., in 1981.
“That’s absolutely crazy,” said Rebar of the national standard. “I can’t remember the five I had in that game, let alone nine.”
Rebar does remember one possible interception that got away against the Huskies.
“I think they tried to throw a halfback pass and their receiver being taller than me went over me,” said Rebar. “I had it on my fingertips, but that’s the only other one I could have caught.”
Rebar has been one of the leaders of a balanced Foxcroft team that has re-emerged among the LTC elite this year after a one-year respite at the .500 mark — and even last season ended with a one-point semifinal loss at Stearns of Millinocket, the eventual conference champion.
“He’s got a toughness about him, and a lot of it is because he had the weight on his shoulders in basketball last winter as the starting point guard and then he was a key player in baseball last spring as a pitcher and a shortstop,” said White. “He’s just continuing to come into his own as an athlete.”
Rebar also has six pass receptions for 118 yards and three touchdowns this fall, with four catches for 74 yards coming at MCI including the two late touchdown plays covering 6 and 22 yards.
But while Rebar has been one of several offensive weapons utilized by the Ponies while they’ve erupted for 141 points in three games, his presence has been felt at least equally on defense.
Not bad for someone who hadn’t even played in a football game until barely 12 months ago.
“With this being a football town and a couple of my friends already here and playing football, they kind of egged me on to do it so I did and then I fell in love with it,” said Rebar of his decision to switch fall sports.
Rebar started at cornerback for the Ponies last fall, but didn’t had an interception in his team’s 10 games.
“It was definitely different and challenging last year,” he said. “I made a lot of mistakes. I just had to learn from them, and I’ve matured a lot so this year I was looking to make some plays for the team.”
Rebar got his first interception this season against his former school, returning a Week 2 pickoff against Dexter 60 yards for a touchdown — then followed that up last Friday with a game to remember.
“It took most of last year for Ryan to figure things out because it was his first year of playing football,” said White. “But he’s ready to play this year.”