As high school football officially got started Monday, there was something missing at some of the practices for northeast Indiana teams – a veteran quarterback.
Of the 35 football-playing schools around the area, 19 are in the need of a new signal-caller in 2012. The two weeks of two-a-day sessions will be pivotal for the new quarterbacks to get comfortable and build chemistry with their receivers and linemen.
In particular, three of the graduated quarterbacks were among the best this area has seen and are the tops for their respective schools in career passing yards: Zach Terrell at Homestead, James Knapke at Bishop Luers and Ryan Leiter at Leo. Terrell (Western Michigan) is northeast Indiana’s all-time leading passer with 8,200 yards, Knapke (Bowling Green) is tops in the SAC at 6,000 and Leiter (Trine) led the Lions to two straight semistate appearances and had 3,380 yards.
Terrell was a three-year starter, leading the Spartans to an undefeated regular season a year ago. Stepping into his cleats will be senior Matt Skowronek, the junior varsity signal-caller for two years.
“He’s been waiting in the wings, and now is his shot,” Homestead coach Chad Zolman said. “We were spoiled for three years with the same guy (Terrell) coming back. That’s unusual because you don’t usually start a sophomore. It’s a good situation because I am replacing a senior with a senior, and he’s got some maturity. And he’s got the tools and is a good athlete.”
Easing Skowronek’s transition and giving the Spartans some options is senior receiver Isaac Griffith, an Indiana University recruit who has also played some quarterback in the past.
“Our receivers are back and our backfield is back, so Matt is going to have some tools,” Zolman said. “We are going to get Isaac in the mix.”
Knapke was also a three-year starter, and the three-time defending Class 2A state champion Knights will go for the four-peat with three choices at quarterback in senior Kyle Bliss, junior Quinn Cook and sophomore Travis Eckert.
Quinn was Knapke’s backup last year and got into six games, completing 2 of 3 passes for 16 yards.
“We don’t need a kid like James, and I know we don’t have one,” Luers coach Matt Lindsay said. “These kids are talented, and all they have to do is get the ball to the right people and protect the ball and not have to win games for us, just run the offense. We have a stable of great running backs. That will be a challenge for a young kid, who is inexperienced, to not get rattled and throw the ball around and put us in harm’s way. If we get decent play out of that position, we will be fine.”
At Leo, senior Sam Waters will be taking over at quarterback. Waters, also a defensive back, was Leiter’s backup last year and got into some games in mop-up duty.
“Sam Waters has been around since he was a kid, and this is his time,” Leo coach Jared Sauder said. “These two weeks are important to him.
“ He has confidence in that fact he has run the offense before in playing JV for two years. We just want to get the fine points of the offense tuned up with him and make sure he’s making the right decisions.
“We have had all summer in 7-on-7s, so that chemistry is there. Our passing routes have been in since June, and they have been repping it since then. The big thing will be building the chemistry with the backs and the line.”