If you grew familiar with the quarterbacks in Robertson County last season, it’s time to do some homework.
Six of the eight teams in The Connection coverage area debuted new QBs last week. Greenbrier’s Tristan Leopold and South Haven’s Andrew Crawley are the only returning starters.
Micah Jones inherits the job from Nathanael Rowley at Christian Community. Taylor Groves replaces the injured Cameron Swift at East Robertson. Ryan Dowlen takes over for the departed Cooper Richards at Jo Byrns. Kevontez Hudson won the job vacated by Bryan Hayes at Springfield. Caleb Anderson fills the shoes of Andrew Nixon at White House. And Will Wilson has edged Taye Francis for the open spot at White House Heritage.
OK, did you get all of that?
Handing the reins over to someone new can be challenging. Elmore knows Leopold’s year of starting experience gives the Bobcats an inherit advantage over teams with less-experienced signal callers.
“He’s gotten a little taller, and he’s thickened up,” Elmore said of Leopold in June. “He hit the weight room really hard this offseason. Having that experience from last year is going to help.”
Adkins is entering his 26th season at Jo Byrns, so he understands the difficulties of roster turnover. Working with a new quarterback sometimes means scrapping certain plays.
“I want that kid to feel comfortable and have confidence,” Adkins said. “You can do some of that with play calling. I tell him that if there’s a play that we run that’s he not comfortable with, we’ll ditch it.”
Leadership skills are a must for quarterbacks. Picking up on the intangible side of the craft is critical for those new to the position, according to White House Heritage coach Stetson Dickerson.
“There’s a lot of things that a quarterback has to do that you really can’t coach,” Dickerson said. “You want them to step up and be a leader. That’s challenging. It’s not just the play-by-play stuff. It’s the intangible things that we try to get better at.”
Adjusting to the speed of the game can also take time for new quarterbacks. That’s especially true for Springfield, which runs a high-tempo offense.
“Our system is no-huddle, where you signal, so you have to get a feel for the coaches,” Springfield coach Dustin Wilson said. “You have to learn what a coach wants when he calls a play. It’s just a time thing, really.”
For Groves at East Robertson, sliding from wide receiver to quarterback made sense after Swift tore his ACL in a spring scrimmage. Groves knows the routes from being on the receiving end of them last season. But coach Atlee Pond noted that Groves’ role in the huddle will look much different now.
“Instead of him just hearing the play call and getting up to the line of scrimmage, he has to see the big picture of everything,” Pond said. “That’s communication in the huddle. It’s about taking charge, being more of a vocal leader. He owns that huddle.”
That’s the reality facing these six new quarterbacks, most of whom played other positions to get on the field as underclassmen. The newbies must learn their offense inside and out, have the intangible and physical skills to do the job, and command respect in the huddle.
“It’s not just about you anymore,” Wilson said. “You have to understand the entire offense. The responsibility of being a quarterback is pretty tough."