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HUDSON — Fivay’s spring quarterback battle between junior Tyler Degen and sophomore Eric Vitale has extended into the summer.
The two were deadlocked for the starting spot through May, and they have continued their rivalry in the weekly 7-on-7 Pasco County passing league run by Falcons coach Chris Taylor.
“They’re both very good quarterbacks,” Taylor said. “They both could start for me right now. It’s going to come down to who makes the least mistakes during these 7-on-7 games and who performs well in the fall camp. I was impressed with both quarterbacks’ poise under pressure in the spring game.”
Both have shown flashes of brilliance on the field, combining to complete 17-of-30 for 218 yards and three touchdowns in the Falcons’ 41-34 spring victory over River Ridge. The underclassmen share a friendship off the field that eases the tension of the competition on it.
“It’s a really close battle between me and Eric right now,” Degen said. “He’s got some things he can do and I can’t, and same goes for me being able to do some things he can’t. …We always hang out together and eat lunch together at school, so I’d say we’re pretty close friends.”
That friendship won’t get in the way, though, of who will earn the keys to the offense this fall, as Taylor has gone to a more passing-oriented attack in the pistol formation, a hybrid of the shotgun offense.
“We’re using the 7-on-7 league to help us install the rest of our offensive passing we’re going to use this fall,” Taylor said.
“It’s going to help us out a lot with our offense this summer. We’ve got five good running backs but they’re all very young. We have a freshman that potentially could start at running back, so were going to play to our strengths and get the ball into our playmakers’ hands.”
Degen believes he may have the edge over Vitale because of his close relationships with senior receiver James Bullock and junior tight end Kevin Faulkner. Degen is best friends with Bullock and has been throwing footballs to the 6-foot-5 Faulkner since fifth grade. Degen’s height (6-1) could be another advantage; Vitale is just 5 feet 8.
Vitale, on the other hand, is versatile, with the ability to scramble out of situations when hurried by defenders and his arm is a little stronger. He seemed comfortable in the Falcons’ spread attack during the spring game.
“I feel comfortable switching on and off with Tyler because I think we’re both capable of being the starting quarterback,” Vitale said. “If I’d say right now who’d be starting, it would probably be both of us sharing snaps during the regular season.”