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"I'll be ready'

(ran PC edition)

Last season, Nick Trehuba was the fourth-string quarterback. Now he is on the verge of becoming the starter.

That's the problem with being the understudy: One never knows when one will be thrust upon the stage.

At least Pasco quarterback Nick Trehuba has three weeks to prepare.

"I'll be ready," he said.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior is the Pirates' de facto quarterback right now. A projected battle between Trehuba and former favorite Kenny Roberts is moot. Roberts has registered for classes at Wesley Chapel and said Monday he is leaning toward becoming a Wildcat.

Maybe former junior varsity quarterback Matt Glavich could have challenged Trehuba. But after a good freshman season, he left for Tampa Catholic.

So Monday, when the Pirates opened camp, Trehuba was the only quarterback taking snaps. By Tuesday, he was taking a lashing from the coaches.

"All those cameras in your face messing you up?" Pasco coach Ricky Thomas _ note the sarcasm _ asked his quarterback. "Is that a problem for you?"

Trehuba nodded his head silently, and for the last few plays of practice, the entire offense was noticebly crisper in its execution.

After practice, though, Thomas explained why Trehuba has him excited about this season _ and why he isn't fazed by the revolving door of Pasco quarterbacks.

"I like (Trehuba's) size, and he throws the ball extremely well," Thomas said. "He's really come on since the spring, and now this is his chance. I think he can do a very good job for us.

"As for Kenny, I really can't comment until (his transfer) is official, but I can say I'm not really surprised by it. Nothing surprises me anymore. It isn't something I think about. I'm worried about who's here, not who isn't."

Thomas, though, won't just give Trehuba the starting job _ at least not without a fight.

He said he won't name a starting quarterback until just before the Sept. 3 opener at Robinson. He wants Trehuba and Joe Bain to fight for the job.

"I'm a believer in competition," Thomas said. "I think it's better for the players, and it's better for the team."

Better for Trehuba because it forces him to improve more rapidly; and better for Bain because now the Pirates need a No. 2 quarterback.

Bain, who will be a junior, ran Thomas' offense as a freshman on the JV team two years ago, is the team's starting free safety, a pretty good receiver _ and is on vacation. He doesn't report to camp until Friday.

"Nick does have a head start," Thomas said.

Which would be the first time in his young career as a Pirate.

Last season, the first time Trehuba played football since his Dade City PAL days, he was a sideline regular. He lined up for a handful of plays at wideout, and while Frank Craig and Jaimie Sullivan battled for the quarterback job, he was far from the battlefield _ fourth on the depth chart, actually.

At season's end, his prospects looked no better for this season with Roberts and Glavich both Pirates.

But Thomas encouraged Trehuba to keep at it, and he did. Trehuba practiced the passing drills he learned last fall; spending an hour each day throwing tight spirals through a tire in his back yard; working out in the Pasco gym, preparing for this season.

Glavich left, and though Roberts' departure was not official Tuesday, he has not yet talked to Thomas about returning, either.

Now the quiet, low-key Trehuba is at the top of the Pirates' depth chart, working on reading defenses better _ and working on a different key.

"I'm not too emotional out there," he said. "I need to be more of a leader, like a (linebacker) Bryan Wright. He's always out there, talking to everybody, building me up all the time. I know I need to do more of that. I know there's things I've got to work on, but I've got time.

"I'll be ready."