Prior to the 2012 season, the Spotswood High School football team handed their offensive keys over to an unchallenged junior quarterback named C.J. O’Connor. Behind an experienced offensive line and with a plethora of offensive weapons at his disposal, O’Connor tossed for 1,309 yards and 15 touchdowns, helping the Chargers to a 4-6 record. But many of those weapons have since graduated, leaving O’Connor and the rest of the Chargers to fill some big shoes heading into the 2013 campaign.
Spotswood will need to compensate for the loss of wide receiver Corey Brown, who pulled in 42 passes for 972 yards and 13 touchdowns, as well as tailback Jack Messerol, a punishing runner who scored 11 rushing touchdowns and gained 671 yards on the ground.
But having O’Connor back, behind a trio of three-year starters along the offensive line, should help soften the blow. The 6-foot, 170-pound quarterback should have plenty of time to operate behind the experienced offensive line, led by left tackle James Collins, right guard Shane White and right tackle Gerard Reichardt.
“C.J. had a great offseason,” head coach Andy Cammarano said. “He is going to take what’s given to him and keeping the offense going and that trio on the o-line is going to help.”
O’Connor said he attended a bunch of one-day college camps this summer to hone his skills and get stronger at his position, but he knows that what he does on the high school fields this fall is what’s ultimately important.
“I’m a captain and I have to lead by example and set a good example for the underclassmen,” O’Connor said.
Losing Brown and Messerrol from an offensive unit that could score with anyone in the state means that the Chargers are going to have to find more ways to be balanced this season, according to Cammarano. “Last year, I don’t think people knew we could be that explosive,” Cammarano said. “We could come from behind and score points and people could double Corey (Brown) and C.J. could still complete passes. But we’re going to have to spread the ball around a little more than last year.”
O’Connor expects that with all of the new personnel on the roster this season that his play will be magnified, with younger, less-experienced players looking up to him to make a big play when the Chargers need it most.
“I’m focused on this season,” O’Connor said. “Our main goal is to improve on what we accomplished last year and maybe even get to a point where we can win the division this year. That’s all that’s on my mind right now.”