Alex Ros’ physical stature might not intimidate opposing defenses.
Ros’ combination of accurate passing and deceptive speed out of the pocket, however, have made him one of the most prolific and versatile quarterbacks in Miami-Dade County this season.
And what opponents don’t take for granted anymore is his consistent ability to lead the Explorers to victory.
“As long as I’m a high school coach, if I can get a quarterback like Alex, I’m lucky,” Columbus coach Chris Merritt said. “He brings everything to the table that you want to the quarterback position. He has good feet. He’s accurate. He makes good decisions. And his football IQ is through the roof. We can talk and make adjustments in games. He’s an extremely intelligent kid.”
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Ros, a 5-10, 190-pound senior, is 12-0 in his first season as Columbus’ starting quarterback.
In the one game Ros could not play (because of a collarbone injury), Columbus suffered its only defeat, 20-10 against rival Coral Gables in its regular-season finale — a loss that cost the Explorers the District 14-8A title.
With Ros back behind center, Columbus has won its three playoff games — including a second-round, 35-0 win over Gables — by a combined score of 112-22.
Ros ranks third in Dade overall in passing yardage with 1,862 yards and has the best touchdown-to-interception ratio, having thrown 21 touchdown passes and only three interceptions on 118 of 179 attempts (.659 completion percentage). Ros also has run for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
“Alex is a great leader and a great quarterback,” Columbus center Kyle Mann said. “We had trust in him ever since the first game that he could lead us. He knows when to step it up and make big plays.”
Ros’ unblemished record and the Explorers’ hopes of returning to Orlando for the state finals will be tested Friday night when Columbus (12-1) takes on Flanagan (10-2) at 7:30 p.m. at Tropical Park in a Class 8A semifinal.
The Falcons have shut out six opponents this season, outscored their first three playoff opponents 91-0, and outscored teams 256-3 in the first half.
“Our offense has really picked things up in the playoffs, and I think this game will really come down to our offensive line,” Ros said. “I have 100 percent faith in those guys. Those guys and our defensive line have had amazing games all year, so as long as those guys continue to play well, we should be fine.”
Ros, who grew up playing for Kendall Hammocks Optimist, has played for Columbus since he started for the junior varsity team as a freshman. As a backup last season to Tucker Beirne, Ros showed glimpses of his ability late in games, throwing for three touchdown passes — two of which came against Miami Central — and running for two more touchdowns.
Columbus won its first nine games this season before the loss to Gables, and Ros proved his capability during an early stretch that included quality wins over Jackson, Northwestern and Southridge.
“Our schedule couldn’t have been any better in the beginning, and it showed us what we could do and helped us grow as a team,” Ros said. “After those first few games, we started getting into a groove.”
Ros showed an ability to throw the ball with power and accuracy since he was 6 years old playing baseball like his father, Alejandro Sr., a former pitcher at Columbus. His uncle, Carlos, played tight end for Columbus and graduated in 1986. By age 11, Ros chose to strictly play football.
Despite his impressive numbers and record this season, Ros, who has a 3.9 GPA and said he would like to pursue a career in medicine and become an orthopedic surgeon one day, doesn’t yet have a formal scholarship offer.
But his performances have drawn invitations to visit schools such as Johns Hopkins and Marist College, and has attracted interest from Georgetown and a handful of Ivy League schools.
“Some FCS schools have come in to look at him, and I know he can play at one of those or at an Ivy League school, with his ability and grades,” Merritt said. “Alex wins, and that’s his best quality. And his confidence on the field is contagious to the rest of the players around him.”
FRIDAY’S STATE SEMIFINALS
Class 8A: Flanagan vs. Columbus, 7:30 (Tropical Park).
Class 7A: St. Thomas Aquinas at Bradenton Braden River, 7:30.
Class 6A: Naples vs. Miami Central, 7:30 (Traz Powell Stadium).
SATURDAY’S STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Class 4A: Booker T. Washington vs. Jacksonville Raines, 7 (Citrus Bowl, Orlando).