Same stage, different players.
As high school football season officially kicks off this week, 2015 is a clean slate for every football team in the TSSAA, many with a new captain calling the shots at quarterback.
“It’s wonderful, man,” said Hillsboro starter Daylon Murphy, whose team opens against Pearl-Cohn at Vanderbilt Stadium. “I’m happy to step up and take this position, and I’m just ready for Saturday night.”
For some, the opportunity is a long time coming.
“I’ve been looking forward to this my whole entire life,” new Cane Ridge starting quarterback D.J. Thorpe said.
But the new role takes some getting used to.
“It took me a minute to get used to how everything goes back there, but I feel like I’m coming along,” East Nashville’s new starter DeVarius Cortner said.
A crucial part of that transition from backup to starter is understanding their role within the team.
“The role is to be a leader when things are going great and when things are not going great,” said Ensworth senior quarterback Coleman Goodwin, who will be following P.J. Settles, The Tennessean’s 2014 male athlete of the year. “It’s your job to calm everyone down and to know what’s going on and take command in big games under the lights. You’ve got to be a game manager and take care of the ball.”
Filling some big shoes is a common problem for new quarterbacks. MBA’s Glenn Coleman has to replace head coach Marty Euverard’s son, Cole, a 2014 All-Midstate first-team selection and Navy signee.
“I know it was hard for him just the fact that it was also the coach’s son,” MBA tight end and UCLA commitment Jordan Wilson said. “I know stepping into that role was tough for him at the beginning, but as he went through the spring and summer he started to settle down and make good decisions.”
But Wilson said learning from players of that caliber can be a key to the new starter’s success.
“He’s been behind Cole Euverard the past couple years and I think that’s what has prepared him.”
When replacing a big-name player, fans often expect the new quarterback to have the same success as his predecessor.
“Obviously the quarterback is a position that a lot of people are looking at and people just expect them to be a natural leader and to lead the team through adversity no matter what,” Ravenwood center Connor Cassin said. “I think that’s true, but I also know that football is a team sport and there has to be multiple leaders in multiple positions. “
Coaches often hope for the same, but manage their expectations.
“You can’t expect them to be Superman,” Franklin coach Donnie Webb said. Senior Kyle Evans and junior Wes Patterson will both see action for the Rebels this season, he said. “You just want them to do what they’re supposed to do leading the offense.”
And a quarterback needs to be someone who is comfortable in his own skin.
“We are absolutely looking for a guy to come in and just be himself and not be anybody that he’s not and run the offense to the best of his ability,” Ravenwood coach Will Hester said.Senior Andrew Rappe will be Ravenwood’s starter Thursday when the team kicks off against Siegel in Murfreesboro.
“Andrew is stepping into this role after not having a lot of time last year, but I have all the confidence in the world in him because he put in a lot of work this offseason to get stronger and make improvements with his speed and I think the whole team has realized that,” Cassin said.
Quarterbacks want to know they have their team’s support.
“I just want my guys to know they can rely on me and when we’re down I’m the guy to bring everything back,” Cortner said.
Having that vote of confidence from his teammates and coaches helps set up new quarterbacks for success.
“I owe it to my teammates for helping me keep my head up and keep on striving to be a good player,” Murphy said. “And my coaches for keeping me on the right track and it makes me feel like I’m ready to take over that position now.”
Ready or not for the 2015 season, all new quarterbacks want the same thing.
“I just want to go out there and get wins with my team,” Cortner said.
And Goodwin says what they all want as the season grinds forward.
“We hope to be back in Cookeville come December.”
Several new quarterbacks leading established programs have challenging games in Week 1.
Ensworth’s Coleman Goodwin vs. Louisville Trinity
Hillsboro’s Daylon Murphy vs. Pearl-Cohn
MBA’s Glenn Coleman vs. Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.)
Ravenwood’s Andrew Rappe vs. Siegel
Blackman’s Miller Armstrong vs. Clay-Chalkville (Ala.)