High School Sports

‘If that guy is on the field, we have a shot.’ Union QB Lincoln Victor led the Titans to history

Union’s Lincoln Victor (5) escapes a tackle by Lake Steven’s Drew Carter (80). Union played Lake Stevens in the WIAA 4A football state championship game at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash., on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018.
Union’s Lincoln Victor (5) escapes a tackle by Lake Steven’s Drew Carter (80). Union played Lake Stevens in the WIAA 4A football state championship game at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash., on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

Lincoln Victor’s ability as a versatile quarterback has been documented throughout his football career at Union High School. Recruiting experts have asserted he’s one of the most dynamic prospects in the state of Washington, if not on the entire Pacific Northwest.

As a senior, Victor led the Titans to their first Class 4A state championship, throwing for more than 300 yards and five touchdowns in the title game, as undefeated Union routed Lake Stevens, 52-20.

He finished his final high school season completing 71.1 percent of his passes for 2,546 yards with just eight interceptions. He added another 755 rushing yards, and scored 36 total touchdowns.

Victor is considering five FCS offers, could have more coming, and is one of five players from Washington to earn an invite to the annual Polynesian Bowl which will be held next month in Hawaii.

For these reasons, Victor has been selected as The News Tribune’s all-state player of the year. But, Union coach Rory Rosenbach says what made Victor so valuable to the Titans can’t be measured by numbers.

“We clearly are not playing in (the state title) game if he is not our quarterback. And that’s not a surprise to anybody,” Rosenbach said. “He’s the guy that makes everybody else on the (team) better. They inherently get better because of the confidence they have knowing he’s on the field with them.

“The (offensive) line blocks better. The defense gets a better pass rush. The receivers run routes harder. Because they know, if he’s out there, we have a chance to get something done that’s special.”

Rosenbach said the Titans had a strong belief in Victor’s leadership. They knew he would put them in positions to succeed. His presence gave the rest of Union’s team a calm confidence.

“They trust him so much, and they know that he’s a winner,” Rosenbach said. “Some guys are just winners, and everybody knows if that guy is on the field, we have a shot.”

This was apparent every time Victor was on the field — and perhaps even more so when he wasn’t on it.

Rosenbach pointed back to Union’s Week 6 win over 4A Greater Saint Helen’s League rival Skyview. The Titans had a 21-0 lead in the first half when Victor tweaked his back and left the game. Skyview loaded the box with Victor on the sideline, and rapidly shifted the momentum.

“Everybody got tight,” Rosenbach said. “We stopped playing with the same free, easy spirit.”

Victor eventually went back in, and did little more than hand the ball off with his wing back, but Rosenbach said that was what the Titans needed to grind out a 21-15 win.

“Him just being on the field changed the way their defense played us, and the attitude of our guys,” Rosenbach said. “He’s going to put everybody in the right position. He’s going to do everything he needs to do to make (the team) successful.”

Victor says he owes his confidence on the field to his preparation. He said he spent as much time as he could studying film before, after and sometimes during school. He looked at opponents tendencies, at personnel, and at what teams did in different down and distance situations, among other things.

“I think that’s the biggest part of (being) a high school football player,” Victor said. “It helped me be a better football player, and build a better relationship throughout my career with all of the coaches — just the amount of film I watch, and the amount of meetings I bounced around to.”

“He prepared like a champion, and that’s why he was as good as he was,” Rosenbach said. “He would come to me at lunch or during a prep (period), and be like, ‘Hey, let’s watch some film.’ He was just a film rat. He always wanted to get better.”

Victor’s preparation has made him a solid quarterback, but also gave him enough knowledge to play anywhere on the field. When the Titans played Puyallup in the state semifinals, Victor went in as a defensive back to help close out an important win. In college, at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, he’s projected to play as a slot receiver, where he has already proven successful during offseason 7-on-7 tournaments.

“If they needed me to play left tackle, I’d play left tackle,” Victor said. “What I love about the game is being able to know every single position on the field, and know every single job and responsibility. ...

“That’s the type of player I am, and that won’t change even though I’ll be changing positions in college. That’s just how I play the game and how I see it.”

Brandon Huffman, the National Recruiting Editor at 247Sports.com, is one of the experts who has consistently been impressed with Victor’s wide range of abilities.

Victor played 7-on-7 with Ford Sports Performance as a receiver during the high school offseason, and Huffman said Victor consistently frustrated defenders with his speed and physicality at one of the most visible events, the Adidas 7-on-7 National Championship held outside of Los Angeles last spring.

“He showed he was going to be a problem as a receiver,” Huffman said. “I think his instincts and the quarterback background helped him in his route running.

“As a quarterback, he understood the importance of running crisp routes. He was going up against the best nickel backs, the best (defensive backs) in the country in that tournament, and they just couldn’t cover him.”

Rosenbach said Victor could have put up “video game numbers” as a receiver at Union, and thinks he would have been nearly impossible for high school defenses to cover.

But, Victor, who has played quarterback since youth football, was most needed behind center, to captain the offense.

“Being quarterback, you’re kind of born into being a team captain and team leader, and you have to be the one who strives under the biggest pressure, and the one that comes out on top — and you have to bring everyone else with you,” Victor said.

“I love having that responsibility. I love having so much pressure on me, and striving through it, and I think it makes me a better football player.”

Victor said there was no position he would have rather played for the Titans than quarterback, being able to impact each play and lead Union on its undefeated title run.

“We were so prepared mentally and physically, and we had seen so many looks before the game and ahead of time, that we were able to put ourselves out there and go play and have fun,” Victor said. “It’s just been so cool to see us work so hard for something and finally accomplish it.”

He will spend the next several months preparing for his transition to college, getting stronger, refining his speed, and running track in the spring. But, he’s already accomplished the biggest goal he set out for at Union — the program he was a ball boy growing up.

“I grew up around Titan football. I was always at the practices. I was always at the games and on the sidelines,” Victor said. “When it came for my time to come to Union, I went into high school with a goal that we were going to win a state championship.”

And the Titans did.

Lauren Smith covers the Seattle Mariners for The News Tribune. She previously covered high school sports at TNT and The Olympian, beginning in 2015. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Emerald Ridge High School.