Deep bombs, wild touchdown scrambles and precision passing.
Week 8 of the area high school football schedule features two matchups that promise to deliver incredible quarterback duels.
Calvary (6-1, 2-0 1-2A) will play at Evangel (5-2, 2-0 1-2A), and Airline (6-1, 2-0 1-5A) will host Parkway (7-0, 2-0).
Both games, which could decide their district races, will showcase two of the top quarterbacks in the state.
Prepare for an air raid.
Calvary at Evangel:
Meet Daniel Fitzwater, Calvary’s 6-foot-5 senior signal caller.
Calvary coach John Bachman Sr. remembers the first time he saw Fitzwater, which was this spring.
“He piled out of that car, and I though: ‘Oh my goodness, look at his size,'” Bachman Sr. said. “Daniel sees over the top of everything because he’s 6-5. When things start to get muddy, he can see the check down or the receiver down the field and still throw the football. It’s just one of the things God gave him.”
Fitzwater moved to the Shreveport area from Houston following his junior season and immediately found a new home with the Cavaliers.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Fitzwater said. “This has been a special year for us so far. I feel like I just jumped right in, and the team accepted me right away.”
He has quickly become one of the top passers in the state and is completing 70 percent of his throws.
“He is in an elite class, as far as his arm. He can make all of the throws,” Bachman Sr. said. “The first time I saw him throw the ball was in a practice this summer. I saw he had great velocity, pinpoint accuracy and confidence.”
Fitzwater has nearly 2,000 yards through the air to go with 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
“He’s a fantastic football player with everything you want, size, arm strength and productivity,” Evangel coach Phillip Deas said. “I saw him in 7-on-7 this summer, when he was just learning the offense. He’s sharper now, from what I’ve seen on film, but I immediately saw he has a great arm and he’s a really smart player as well.”
Deas has his own All-Star QB, one whom every football fan in the state should know by now.
“Dakota has just been doing it for a long time, going back to when he was a little kid being out here and throwing the ball with his brothers,” Deas said. “That history and heritage of playing quarterback really gives him an edge out there on the field. Right now, he is having a fantastic year throwing the football.”
Evangel’s Dakota Duron is No. 1 in the state with 2,247 yards on 149-for-211 passing for 24 touchdowns and five interceptions.
“The receivers and I worked really hard in the offseason and over the summer,” Duron said. “So for us to come out and put up big numbers, it’s just a product of that hard work. Every week, we are trying to get better and better.”
Duron has his sights set on beating Calvary and making a playoff push to finish his stellar high-school career.
“This season is so important,” Duron said. “I’ve been around this program for a long time, and we’ve won so many championships. Every year you want to win, but especially your senior season. You want to leave a legacy for the underclassmen. We want to prove to the city and state that we are a great team.”
Parkway at Airline:
Duron and Fitzwater have the stats to lead the state, but Airline senior Hayden Hildebrand and Parkway junior Brandon Harris aren’t far behind.
And they are just as exciting to watch.
“It’s a good comparison between those two quarterbacks,” Parkway coach David Feaster said. “They are both great athletes, passers and quarterbacks. They read defenses well, lead the team well and keep their composure. Both of them have rocket arms, can throw the short throw and deep throw accurately.”
Last week, Harris and Hildebrand both turned in tremendous games to lead their teams to big wins.
Hildebrand was 18-of-22 passing for 289 yards and a score. He also ran for a touchdown to lead Airline past Haughton. Harris had four total touchdowns, 54 yards rushing and 200 yards passing, as Parkway beat Byrd 44-14.
“The biggest thing about Harris is his dual-threat ability,” Airline coach Bo Meeks said. “He can get the ball down field, and he can hurt you with his legs. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He’s a very smart player. So, he brings a lot to the table.”
Hildebrand has 1,730 yards passing with 15 touchdowns through seven games.
“A lot of our success passing is because our running game has improved, and our offensive line has improved,” Meeks said. “The receviers are making plays. Hayden is really playing well right now. He’s being patient and making the right decisions.”
Connect with Brent Shirley on Twitter at @bshirley08.