It happens in every game, more than a dozen times through the course of a season. A quarterback eludes defenders until he cannot escape the rush anymore and is swallowed up in a pile of pads.
For Dixie Hollins’ Tyrie Adams, that innocuous play ended in a gruesome injury. In a fall preseason game against Clearwater Central Catholic, Adams broke his leg and missed all but three games last year.
“It was tough at first, because I knew I could be the starting quarterback for the season,” said Adams, who will be a junior this fall. “I knew I was going to have to sit out quite a bit.”
Adams returned for the stretch run and showed what he can do. In the final three games, he threw for a combined 907 yards and nine touchdowns. In the season finale against Dunedin, Adams set school records for attempts (54), completions (29) and yards (407).
“That was really my first experience on varsity,” said Adams, who will get to show off that arm in Saturday’s inaugural Battle of the Bay 7-on-7 tournament.
“I was a little nervous, at first. But I got better. I didn’t even know I had those kind of numbers or set any records until after the season.”
His precision passing had defensive coordinators reaching for the antacid. But Adams’ record-setting run somehow managed to exist, if not under the radar, then somewhere between the center and edge. That’s because the Rebels had to deal with a rash of injuries to other players as well and limped to a winless season.
Stronger, focused and injury free, Adams is poised to put up the same kind of numbers this year. And that has a lot to do with the offense Dixie Hollins runs.
Adams will operate out of a spread offense that floods the field with receivers stretched sideline to sideline. Adams will be put in the shotgun on every snap with a directive to beat teams with his arm and smarts. Passes will be thrown everywhere. Receivers will catch balls in stride and take off downfield.
The hunger for the big pass play, the deep strike, is incessant. It is fast-and-furious football that resembles pinball on cleats.
And it is perfectly tailored to Adam’s strengths, who looked good this spring against Jesuit, passing for more than 100 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown.
“Tyrie can flat out throw the ball,” Rebels coach Shannon Brooks said. “We’ll go as far as his arm and the legs of (running back) Kabriel Jackson can take us.”
The groundwork for turning the offense over to Adams and a slew of receivers was laid in the summer of 2012 during passing leagues and 7-on-7 tournaments. Adams was in shotgun, slinging the ball everywhere.
And Dixie Hollins was successful.
At Largo’s 7-on-7 tournament last summer, the Rebels were one play from knocking off the eventual champion Packers and advancing to the title game.
“What we do in 7-on-7 is basically the offense that we’re running all season,” Adams said. “I’m comfortable with it, and starting to feel better with everything in the offense and gaining more and more confidence. Now it’s just natural for me, and we have some good receivers and do some things to move the ball.”
That bodes well for the Rebels, who are among four Pinellas County teams competing Saturday at Jefferson.
“We’re excited about it,” Adams said. “Last year, we got experience playing together in tournaments and did well. Now we want to go out and try to win it.”
About the only thing Adams has to work on is avoiding another devastating injury. He is 6 feet but only weighs 160 pounds.
“We’ve been working on getting Tyrie in the weight room to get stronger and try and add a little more weight,” Brooks said. “He’s getting there. I think this could be a big year for him.”
HomeTeam Unsigned Preps Battle of the Bay
What: 7-on-7 football tournament
When: Saturday. Pool play starts at 9 a.m., quarterfinals at 3, championship at 4:30.
The field: Alonso, Armwood, Boca Ciega, Dixie Hollins, Countryside, Gaither, Hernando, Jefferson, Largo, Nature Coast Tech, Pasco, Plant, Plant City, Tampa Bay Tech, Tampa Catholic and Zephyrhills.
Outlook: The inaugural event serves as a fundraiser for Unsigned Preps. The nonprofit organization, headed by former Leto star Ricky Sailor, helps high school players find colleges through a bus tour to campuses across the South and provides guidance counseling as well as SAT and ACT prep courses. After pool play, teams will be seeded into a single-elimination bracket that will lead to a final between the best team from Hillsborough County against the best team from Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando.