116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MOUNT VERNON — Drew Adams turned 18 years old Wednesday, which is a big moment in a teenager's life.
He observed the occasion by going to football practice, eating dinner with his family and attending a postseason volleyball game to support his classmates.
The low-key evening is a microcosm for how the Mount Vernon senior handles major milestones. Unsurprisingly, he wasn't concerned with a celebration after breaking one of the state's most prestigious prep football records.
'I never really want to get too caught up in stats, records and stuff like that,' Adams said. 'Obviously, it's a great honor. I think it was pretty awesome to achieve something like that, but I try not to get too wrapped in it.'
Adams set the Iowa high school record with 102 career touchdown passes, connecting for five against Williamsburg in the regular-season finale and ranks among the state's all-time best in passing yardage and completions. He will look to add to those numbers in his fourth postseason appearance as the third-ranked Mustangs (8-1) host Centerville (6-3) Friday in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
Adams has become one of Iowa's top quarterbacks and Mount Vernon's most prolific passer. Those assertions would never come from his mouth.
'He's not going to go around town, bragging about it,' Mount Vernon Coach Lance Pedersen said. 'In fact, on Saturday morning, we have practice with a film session and breakfast, not much was even said about it. It was just another day.'
Friday serves as an anniversary of sorts. Adams was thrust into the starting lineup for the opening-round playoff game his freshman season. He has never looked back as the Mustangs' primary signal caller.
'We had the confidence in him that he'd be able to do it and he did,' Pedersen said. 'The thing is sometimes when you play so young there is a time you plateau or level out. He never did that. He continued to work hard and get better.'
In that first start, he threw for 94 yards and two scores on 11-of-13 passing. Spot action during the regular season proved beneficial, but Adams recalled that it couldn't calm all the butterflies.
'It was pretty nerve-racking,' Adams said. 'I had been in a couple games here and there early in the season. That helps, but we had some great teammates that year.
'That made it easier, going into it knowing they trusted me and had my back.'
He didn't predict the success that was ahead of him.
'It's kind of crazy,' Adams said. 'At the time, you're just excited to be on the field with all those older guys, playing and getting the opportunity.
'It's hard to imagine what it would amount to but sitting here now it's fun to look back on it.'
Adams has thrown for 1,807 yards and 29 touchdowns, completing 130 of 237 passes this season. As a sophomore, he exploded for 3,391 yards and 38 touchdowns, helping the Mustangs to a 2A runner-up finish in a wild 70-56 shootout with champion Spirit Lake. Last season, Adams passed for 2,785 yards and 29 scores.
'I've had some great teammates that I played with all along the way,' Adams said. 'That has really helped out. We've had some early great teams that have come through here the last couple years.'
Senior Cale Snedden, junior Blake Booth and sophomore Zach Baker have been his top targets. Snedden, his teammate since youth flag football, has 30 catches for 412 yards. Snedden's ninth TD catch of the season was the 99th for Adams, breaking the old record of Mediapolis' Jesse Ertz (2009-12). Booth has reeled in 29 catches for 294 yards and four scores, including the record-tying TD. Baker has 415 yards on 28 receptions and four TDs. Matt Gearhart has 378 receiving yards, averaging 25.2 yards per catch.
Adams has thrown TD pass to seven different receivers. Five wideouts have four TDs and another has two. He said he is grateful for so many playmakers at his disposal.
'It is really neat to think back on all the guys,' Adams said. 'It wasn't just three guys I've thrown touchdown passes to. It's a huge array of guys and that speaks volumes on the talent that comes through Mount Vernon.
'Having four capable receivers like I do, they are guys I can count on. It's nice having targets out there I can trust. It makes my job easier.'
In addition to the touchdown mark, Adams is third all-time with 8,651 passing yards. He is 495 yards back of Cherokee's Tyler Jones, who set the record from 2005-08. Norwalk's Brady Brandsfield is second, throwing for 8,984 from 2013-16. Adams is fifth in career completions, entering the postseason with 572, while decreasing his interception total each year as a full-time starter.
'He is one that really studies the game hard,' Pedersen said. 'He puts a lot of time in outside of practice and during the offseason to get better. He has really worked hard to achieve what he has.
'He's very smart both in the classroom and on the field. He's able to read a defense. He can read where the defense is going to go and get an open receiver where he needs to be.'
Pedersen praised Adams for his character on and off the field. He stands out in the classroom with a 3.89 grade-point average, planning to study business as he plays football in college. Pedersen said Adams is a leader respected by his teammates, who turn to him when the Mustangs face adversity. Adams has responded, picking up teammates when they are down.
Case in point, he was instrumental in rallying the Mustangs with three second-half TD passes in a 34-27 come-from-behind victory at West Liberty.
'He's a great leader,' Pedersen said. 'He's the all-around package. He plays with a smile on his face. He has a really good time out there. He's very competitive.
'In general, he's a great kid.'
Pedersen said Adams has traveled all over for camps and has dedicated numerous summer hours with a quarterback coach to perfect his craft. He has improved his arm strength and mechanics over the years. He has also developed his foot speed. He is devoted to football, putting in the work while balancing it with his participating in basketball and golf.
'There is that inner drive that says I want to do everything I can to be successful,' Pedersen said. 'I'm going to do whatever it takes. The amount of time this young man has put in, it's not a mistake that he excels on Friday nights because it's the six days prior that he's working his tail off to be ready.'
Adams is ready to take hold of the reins for another playoff run. The Mustangs are looking for their third straight semifinal trip to the UNI-Dome. Regardless of the final outcome, Adams has etched his name in the state record books and he has great memories permanently etched in his mind.
'I'm going to be happy with what we've accomplished here and all the memories and relationships that I've built,' Adams said. 'We've already accomplished some great things here. Making it back to the Dome would be great. I know we've been there the last two years. This year, being able to finish it off after we get there would be icing on the cake for everything.'
Adams would be thrilled to celebrate it.
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