Area teams will see new faces at quarterback

Published 12:12 am Sunday, August 5, 2012

The signs are obvious, from the clashing of pads in our own community to the reports of fall camp from our state universities — football season is almost here.

Monday marked the first day of camp for our four local schools on the Natchez side of the river, and the Louisiana schools will soon follow suit.

Meanwhile, LSU, Mississippi State, Alcorn State and Delta State began fall practice Thursday, and Ole Miss and Southern Mississippi were not far behind, with camp beginning Friday.

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Locally, storylines for this coming season are already cropping up, and the one common denominator for our area schools seems to be the question, “Who’s at quarterback?”

Only Michael Whitley at Vidalia High School appears to be set as a returning starter, and Whitley will look to break his team out of the chokehold of back-to-back losing seasons.

As for the other five schools, each one will be breaking in a new signal caller this fall — some of which will be moving to quarterback after getting used to other positions.

Natchez High School senior Derrian Johnson will still see some snaps behind center this fall, but head coach Lance Reed recently named sophomore Anthony Robinson as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback.

While Robinson will be under the spotlight — and heavy scrutiny, no doubt — make no mistake about it: The Bulldogs’ offense will still depend heavily on Johnson’s athleticism. Whether he’s at quarterback, running back or wide receiver, Johnson gives the Bulldogs a formidable weapon wherever he lines up.

Cathedral High School’s Thomas Garrity and Trinity Episcopal’s Garrett Vinson both look to replace productive starters from last year’s respective squads. Caleb Upton’s production for Cathedral was almost other-worldy, but both head coach Ron Rushing and running back Khalil Brice said they’ve been very impressed with Garrity’s progress at the position.

Scott Turner was an effective quarterback for the Saints last year, and Vinson moves to the position after spending last season at a receiver. Learning a new position is always tough, but Saints head coach Josh Loy said he’s been impressed with Vinson’s leadership. That will go a long way in developing chemistry with the other Trinity players.

Another local signal caller who’s moving to quarterback from another position is Ferriday High School’s Shannon Morales. It’s the second year in a row the Trojans will go with a player who’s never played the position before, after Richard Jefferson led Ferriday’s offense last year. Morales will lean heavily on senior running back Jarvis Brooks to help take pressure of him, and Ferriday coach Cleothis Cummings has described Brooks as someone who can take a load on his back.

Adams County Christian School junior Brandon Ross rounds out the area’s group of rookie signal callers. Ross backed up Johnny Smith last fall, so he isn’t new to the position. With athletes like Trey Fleming and Lester Wells lining up with him, Ross should have plenty of options for which to distribute the ball.

With so many new faces under center, the 2012 football season should be an interesting one to follow as these athletes progress in their development.