Over the next two weeks, we’ll pose and answer a question a day about the upcoming football season. Have a topic you think needs to be addressed? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will this be the year of the quarterback in Pinellas County?
This is a titillating time for football fans in the county and much of the excitement is clustered around one position. Quite a few strong-armed, agile quarterbacks have risen to prominence, bringing new life to a position sorely in need of star power.
What we’re saying
Bob Putnam: Countryside’s Gray Crow, East Lake’s Pete DiNovo and Tarpon Springs’ Louis Pappas are pocket passers who have the ability to go deep. Largo’s Juwan Brown and Palm Harbor University’s Billy Pavlock supplement their strong arms with a scrambler’s flair. Four of the five led their teams to playoff berths in 2010. Pavlock was the exception, but was injured midway through the season.
Other groups of quarterbacks have been hyped before. What sets this group apart is the record-setting numbers they have the potential to produce. Unlike quarterbacks of the past, this season’s bunch will be operating in offenses that give them the green light to go downfield.
Crow, DiNovo and Pappas will work out of spread offenses. Each has explosive, playmaking receivers at his disposal. Brown and Pavlock are more dual-threat quarterbacks who could each rush and pass for 1,000 yards.
Nearly every one is going into his third year as a starter. As a bonus, all but one will be working in the same offense for two years (Pavlock will be under a new system from first-year coach Matt Lepain).
It has the makings of a memorable year.
Bryan Burns: The talent pool under center is decidedly deep.
Start with Crow, a Miami commit poised to put up gaudy statistics for a Countryside team looking for a third straight trip to the region finals.
East Lake has arguably the best quarterback-to-receiver combination in the county with DiNovo, a junior, throwing to sophomore sensation Artavis Scott. In 7-on-7 competitions during the summer, that duo was unstoppable.
Pappas is promised a year of good luck after recovering the Epiphany cross in January — it seems to have paid off already with the transfer of receivers Dondre Daley (Anclote) and Kenny Blanch (PHU) to Tarpon’s offense.
Brown, the county’s top dual-threat QB, is healthy again after missing the majority of the 2010 season with a knee injury. Could this be the year he delivers on his enormous potential?
And any discussion concerning Pinellas’ top quarterbacks that doesn’t include Pavlock would be incomplete. The senior is a threat on the ground and in the air, and is a great leader for the Hurricanes.
Beyond those five are a number of steady performers looking to step up into the spotlight.
The play of David Jones at St. Petersburg will be a key in determining if the Green Devils make the postseason a fourth straight year. Osceola’s Andrew Matyk, Clearwater’s Rob Yarbrough and Dixie Hollins’ Keven Hubbard all could post big numbers in 2011.
And don’t forget about Admiral Farragut WR/DB Rayshawn Jenkins, who just might be the county’s most versatile athlete and is guaranteed to take some snaps under center.
What they’re saying
Countryside coach Jared Davis: I would say it’s one of the best years for quarterbacks. I think each one has their own unique ability. But if there’s a blanket statement to be made about them, it’s that they make people around them better. They’re all good at distributing the ball to a whole lot of different people. They’re very unselfish in that standpoint. And there’s potential to be big numbers because there are a lot of dynamic receivers to throw to, and coaches have the confidence to put the ball in the air.
East Lake coach Bob Hudson: Out of the years I’ve been coaching, this is the strongest group collectively that I’ve seen. You definitely hear about them a lot more. I think teams are doing more to use their quarterbacks. Plus, they’re going to 7-on-7 tournaments and quarterback academies are doing more year-round.
Bob Putnam and Bryan Burns, Times staff writers
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