HomeTeam Huddle: Three key QB battles on the North Suncoast

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Mon. May 14, 2012 | Matt Baker | Email

HomeTeam Huddle: Three key QB battles on the North Suncoast

A spring goal shared by many teams across the North Suncoast is to identify a starting quarterback. Here’s a look at some of those QB battles and the presumptive nominees to the starting job.

Pasco: No matter who becomes the starter, the Pirates will likely change their offense to make up for the graduation of Jacob Guy, the record-setting passer who will walk on at Florida.

“It’s not Jacob where you’re gonna throw the ball 30 times a game,” coach Tom McHugh said. “You have to make adjustments.”

Three players have shared snaps at quarterback: Rising senior Jajuan Henry and sophomores-to-be Bowman Archibald and Grant Starling. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Archibald has near-ideal size, while Starling and Henry are shorter but speedy.

The first two weeks of Pasco’s practices have focused on the run game. The Pirates will develop the passing game in the coming days, giving McHugh and staff a chance to evaluate their prospects.

“Then I’ll be able to tell,” McHugh said.

Nature Coast: The Sharks don’t expect to veer from their run-heavy offense. But they do hope to complete more than the 23 passes they did last fall.

“We have to be able to throw it effectively,” coach Charles Liggett said. “We don’t have to be a passing team, but we have to be effective.”

Heading into Friday’s spring game at Lecanto, junior-to-be Luis Espinosa holds a slight edge for the starting job. Espinosa had 27 tackles and two interceptions at defensive back last year and took a handful of snaps at Wildcat quarterback.

Two junior varsity players — Ryan Quigley and Trevor Castro — are battling Espinosa, as is Sam Mazzia, a tight end last fall who could be used in red-zone situations.

“We’ve been rotating,” Liggett said. “We’re gradually trying to nail it down.”

Sunlake: The Seahawks have had two back-to-back standout quarterbacks: Jacob Jackson (1,258 passing yards, 1,058 rushing yards as a senior) and Cameron Stoltz (1,700 passing yards, 28 TDs).

The heir apparent is senior-to-be Josh Zifer, a 6-foot-3 lefty who’s competing alongside last year’s JV quarterback, Esteban Lewallen.

“He’s a good athlete,” coach Bill Browning said of Zifer. “He’s got very good speed. He’s a very hard working individual.”

Zifer saw limited time as a backup last year. He completed 3 of 6 passes in blowout games but said he took away plenty of tips from his varsity experience and conversations with Stoltz and Jackson.

“I learned not to buckle,” Zifer said. “Don’t get too rowdy when you’re in at quarterback. You’ve just got to take it one step at a time. If you mess up, go on to the next play.”

Other QBs by the numbers
1,820 Passing yards by Bishop McLaughlin’s RJ Perciavalle during his sophomore season. That’s the most of any North Suncoast player who isn’t graduating.

171 Passing yards by Land O’Lakes backup QB Ethan Weilant last fall as a freshman. Expect the quick, 6-foot-1 Weilant to have a strong career with the Gators.

116 Completions by Fivay’s Tyler Degen during his junior season. That was the fourth-best total on the North Suncoast.

52.1 Completion percentage by Hudson’s Joey Caruso last fall. He’ll get more opportunities this season under new coach Mark Kantor.

0 Passing attempts by Mitchell players other than QB Spencer Whittaker last season. The Stetson recruit threw for 450 yards during his senior year.

Tweet of the day (er, weekend)
Times columnist John C. Cotey liked his first glimpse of the Royal Knights from Saturday’s scrimmage in Clearwater:
@JohnnyHometeam: “I’ll take River Ridge right now as my sleeper team in Pasco County. Surprised by their size.”

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