After starting 21 games in three years for South Hunterdon High School’s football team, Devon Troutman has earned the complete trust of head coach Toby Jefferis. This season the shackles will completely come off Troutman, who debuted at quarterback as a freshman in the final game of 2010.
While Troutman isn’t flashy or a player that’ll put up staggering numbers, he’s the perfect type of quarterback for Jefferis’ split veer option.
“He’s suited for our system and is like our third running option in the backfield,” Jefferis said. “He runs the option well, and having three years experience has allowed us to add some things (to the offense).
“He’s making his own reads, and he’s able to come to the line and recognize coverages,” Jefferis added. “His maturation at the position especially with making those reads is huge because it helps out our offensive line.”
Troutman threw just 28 passes last season, but expect to see a more balanced offense in 2013, Jefferis said.
“Coach said we’re going to have to throw the ball a lot more this season,” Troutman said. “I’m looking forward to throwing the ball around.”
With only 30 players on the roster — most play on both sides of the ball — Troutman noted that staying healthy is the key to another winning season. But the Eagles have some depth.
The graduation of four two-year starting offensive linemen as well as the arrival of a talented receiving corps resulted in Jefferis’ decision to tweak the offense. Junior receivers Danny Begg, Josh Phillips and Brennen Carey are all at least 6-foot.
“They all have decent size and decent speed so we actually put in a few different formations for them,” Jefferis said.
“For two years we had such a great offensive line that we could run the ball against eight men in the box. This season we’re going to be a little bit more balanced and work on keeping opposing defenses honest.”
The Eagles, part of a three-way tie for the Mid-State 38 Hills Division title with Bound Brook and Roselle Park, also qualfied for the Central Group I playoffs for the first time since 2003 when Jefferis’ father Sam was the coach. The Eagles lost at Asbury Park 21-14 in a first-round game, but the momentum of a 6-4 season has carried over.
“It (playoff appearance) gives them a little more confidence that anybody they step onto the field with they can compete with on any given night,” said Jefferis, whose alma mater is looking to make the playoffs for the 11th time.
“This year, the senior class and starters are taking on the leadership role of doing what their supposed to do and practicing well. I’m hearing more of their voices direct instructions before I can even get the words out of my own mouth. They know what my expectations are. The seniors are the first guys I coached when I arrived here and have been with me the entire way through.”