TAMPA — When Hillsborough starting quarterback Jeremy Agrinzonis takes his first varsity snaps in a regular-season game Friday night against Jefferson, no one will confuse him for his predecessor, Tarean Austin, though he will wear the same number.
Likewise, no one will compare Terriers No. 2 quarterback Apoleon Moore to former Hillsborough great Jarred Fayson.
Austin, now the No. 2 at New Mexico as a true freshman, and Fayson, a senior starting wideout at Illinois, were the most recent in Hillsborough’s long line of superb signal callers. But now the Terriers’ offensive huddles will be led by a pair of players who are greener than the field they play on.
“They each have two quarters of play under their belts. What are you going to do, throw them the whole playbook, the whole audible system?” said Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia, referring to the pair splitting quarters in last Friday’s kickoff classic against Bradenton Southeast.
“Right now we’re crawling. They’ll start walking pretty soon. And after a while, hopefully they’ll start jogging and then running. Then we’ll be able to give them a little more.”
Their first game will be a tough task. Rival Jefferson is one of the area’s top teams.
“I’m going to try to go out there and control the game,” said Agrinzonis, a Durant transfer who was relegated to safety and receiver in the spring for the Cougars. “I don’t have to go out there and win it. I’ve just got to focus on managing it.”
For now, Agrinzonis, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound junior, is the starter. But Garcia said the 6-foot-1, 160-pound Moore is competing for playing time.
“It’s close,” Garcia said. “At one point, there was a big gap between the two, but right now they’re neck and neck. Apoleon throws the ball better downfield and Jeremy throws the ball better underneath, and then it becomes a matter of who is going to manage the game better, who is not going to make mental errors.”
Hillsborough’s offense will likely look markedly different from the straight dropback attack run by Austin, who threw for nearly 5,000 yards in three years as a starter.
Mainly, it will be more vanilla with less risk.
Garcia said the Terriers will rely on the run and a backfield headlined by Robinson transfer Tim Randolph. But Hillsborough will also look to move the pocket, run play action and three-step drops, as well as throw more screen passes, all organized utilize fleet-footed senior receiver Charles Lovett, a Division-I recruit who racked up 1,106 receiving yards last season.
“We have to get the ball in No. 10’s hands,” Garcia said. “There’s no doubt about that. He’s as good a playmaker as we’ve had here in all my years here. We have to find a way to get the ball to him — hand it to him, kick it to him, whatever. He has to have the ball 10 to 15 times a game.”
The Terriers believe just because they’re inexperienced, it doesn’t mean they can’t win - and improve on back-to-back 6-4 seasons.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of short plays,” Lovett said. “We’re going to have to rely on our D, kind of like Alabama. Alabama’s quarterback (Greg McElroy), he wasn’t an all-star. His stats weren’t off the charts. He just got the job done. That’s what we tell our quarterbacks to do.”