Because so few derbies — Kentucky or quarterback — are ever determined in one or two furlongs, Thursday’s slate of one-half jamboree contests likely won’t settle any behind-center battles being waged locally.
But they could determine a clear leader. This is, after all, teams’ first live action of 2012 against foes not wearing the same jersey.
Scores will be kept. September intensity, to a degree, can be simulated. How the QB contenders perform could speak volumes, or whispers.
That in mind, here are a few competitions to watch:
We don’t foresee the Panthers needing 12- and 14-play drives against Leto, so their reps could be limited. Ideally, though, coach Robert Weiner would like to play at least three quarterbacks. Rising senior Aaron Banks, who threw for 212 yards and three TDs in relief of James Few last season, will be pushed all summer by Kyle Groh, Kyle Ploucher and Orlando move-in Colby Brown.
Rising junior Landon Galloway and senior-to-be Nick Rodriguez have been dueling for the vacancy created by Cincinnati-bound slinger Bennie Coney’s graduation. Rodriguez is an intriguing prospect. He filled in admirably in the final four games of 2010 (954 passing yards, eight TDs, six INTs) after Coney was suspended, but focused on baseball last fall. Galloway was last year’s No. 2 receiver.
Nothing will be determined Thursday night, but we can’t let this competition go unnoticed. Rising senior Zain Gilmore, a 2,100-yard passer at Blake last season, won’t play because he transferred to Robinson less than a month ago. As a result, Thursday’s reps against Jefferson will go to incumbent Vidal Woodruff.
Gilmore’s numbers are flashier, but Woodruff (6-2, 215 pounds), who threw for 564 yards in six regular-season starts last year, has drawn the attention of visiting college coaches this spring.
“Vidal has maintained his composure through the whole thing,” said coach Mike DePue, adding the competition will stretch throughout the summer. “Gilmore has come in and competed and it’s been an eye-opening experience for both of them.”
Rising senior incumbent Nate Mills, coming off an 1,100-yard season, has had a dazzling spring according to coach Brian Turner. Still, Turner is unabashed when speaking of the potential of rising sophomore Isaac Holder, who moved in from Jesuit. The two appear to be making each other better, one reason Sickles projects as a sleeper playoff pick for 2012.
Five other things we’ll be keeping an eye on:
Armwood’s mind-set: Have the recent headlines left the Hawks demoralized or galvanized?
Hillsborough TE Jordan Sherit: Will he get an offer during the Terriers’ half against Middleton?
Chamberlain: Something tells us the D.J. Mayo era will kick off with a resounding statement against Blake.
Gaither-Sickles: Three words: No. Love. Lost. We project this as the most intense half of the night.
Riverview’s offense: Will new coach Mike Thornton’s option-style approach resuscitate the Sharks?
“This county still puts us behind the eight ball in terms of playing half a (spring) game, whereas everyone else in the state of Florida plays a full game. …That needs to be rectified. We need to be on the same playing field as everybody else.” — Robinson coach Mike DePue
(All jamborees at 6:30 p.m.)
at Alonso: Gaither vs. Sickles, Alonso vs. Steinbrenner
at Blake: Hillsborough vs. Middleton, Blake vs. Chamberlain
at Brandon: Bloomingdale vs. Brandon, Bloomingdale vs. Newsome, Brandon vs. Newsome*
at East Bay: Riverview vs. Lennard, Spoto vs. East Bay
at King: Tampa Bay Tech vs. Wharton, King vs. Freedom
at Leto: Robinson vs. Jefferson, Leto vs. Plant
at Plant City: Durant vs. Strawberry Crest, Armwood vs. Plant City
at Dover Patriots Youth Football: Ocala Christian vs. Seffner Christian, 7:30
*Brandon jamboree will consist of three quarters; all other jamborees to feature two halves.