High school football: Stevenson senior Ben Snider catches on quickly in his first year playing football

Until this fall, Ben Snider’s claim to fame in football was winning a championship in intramural flag football as a freshman.

Now the Stevenson senior has some bigger bullet points for his resume, including the single-game program record for receiving yards: 236, in a Week 2 win vs. New Trier.

Not bad for a guy who never played a game of tackle football in his life before August.

It isn’t that Snider’s not athletic. He’s played baseball, basketball and soccer, and also ran track at varioustimes.

But it wasn’t till some Stevenson football players and coaches made their pitch that the 6-4, 180-pounder decided to take the plunge.

“A few of my friends on the team, quarterback Matt Projansky and running back Mike Maloney, told me to come out and play,” Snider said. “”As a friend, could you come out and join the team?’ And here we are.”

Also part of the recruiting effort was assistant coach Brian Burja. “He saw me in the weight room and was like, ‘Have you ever touched a football before?'” Snider said.

Thecampaign paid off with Snider joining the football program for summer workouts.

“At first, it was more of me learning my routes, shadowing [teammate] Charlie Skolnik,” Snider said. “I was kind of like a baby bird, right? Getting out of the nest.”

Snider is grateful for the chance to play right away. “I think it’s crazy, the trust [coaches] had in me,” he said.

The Patriots started their season with a loss to powerhouse Maine South but in Week 2, Snider had his breakout game against New Trier.

Being goal-oriented, he looked up the program records and knew the Stevenson single-game receiving mark was 213 yards. He didn’t know until the game wasover that he’d broken it, however.

“After the game, it started to sink in,” Snider said. “I went back on the field and stared at the lights. It was surreal.”

He gives much of the credit to his quarterback. “It was because of Proj [Projansky] being able to throw the deep ball,” Snider said.

Through four games, Snider had 19 catches for 495 yards and five touchdowns. He’s aiming to be a 1,000-yard receiver and to help the Patriots reach the IHSA playoffs.

As a senior, he’s also thinking about his future. Until this fall, it looked more likely to be in college baseball since he’s been playing travel ball for a while. Now, who knows? It could be football.

Stevenson’s Ben Snider (10).

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

One of the things to consider, as Snider freely admits, is he’s not close to his ceiling in football.

“I’m not finely tuned,” he said. “I still have a lot of work to be done. … Coming into the season, I didn’t know much about football. I hate to say it, I barely know most of the rules today.

“[But] I’m definitely thinking more seriously about my future in this sport.”

It’s not something he ever really considered when he was a little kid going to Stevenson games as a fan. But lately he’s been watching some Hudl videos of past Patriots star receivers like Cameron Green, who went on to a successful career at Northwestern after helping Stevenson win a state title in 2014.

And now, he’s up on the leaderboard himself.

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