Commentary: QB can make or break a team

Published 4:01 pm Friday, September 24, 2010

This football season has demonstrated one thing in particular: Quarterback is, far and away, the most important position on a high school football team.

Common knowledge for most fans of the game, it bears repeating and examining because of how quarterback play has affected every local team.

So far, the most successful teams in the area, Maplesville and Thorsby, which after Friday night’s games are now a combined 10-0 on the season, are enjoying their level of success partly because they have experienced, skilled players under center.

Maplesville senior Matt Hamner, who graced the cover of our Kickoff 2010 football preview magazine, is a prototypical passer: tall enough to see over offensive lineman, accurate on short throws, a cannon for an arm on long throws and always making the right reads. Andrew Farris, meanwhile, has been the catalyst of Thorsby’s best start in school history. Farris throws the ball, he can run it, and he serves as an emotional leader for his teammates—and the senior even plays a little defense from time to time.

Jemison senior Scott Clements was actually having the best season by a local quarterback until a knee injury forced him to miss last week’s game against Bibb County. Backup Trey Bryant, a junior, played remarkably well in Clements’ absence, but the stage was too big for a first-time starter and the Panthers couldn’t compete with Bibb. Clements should return later in the season, though, and give a solid JHS team a chance to make a run in the playoffs.

At Chilton County, the transition from established starter to younger quarterback hasn’t gone as smoothly. Taylor Hughes graduated after the 2009 season, leaving two sophomores to battle for the job. A converted wide receiver, Cameron Cummings, won the job to start the season and even led the Tigers to a win over rival Jemison in the opener. But CCHS struggled mightily in Week 2 at defending state champion Demopolis, and coach Brian Carter has tried senior Jacob McKinney, who spent all spring and fall practicing as a receiver and safety, at QB.

Cummings and McKinney are both talented players and will no doubt be crucial in their team’s success the rest of the season. It’s just that the situation goes to show how being unsettled at the quarterback position can impact a team like no other variable.

And don’t mistake this column as taking the stance that other positions don’t matter. There aren’t many quarterbacks out there that can succeed if they don’t have an offensive line blocking for them, running backs taking some pressure off, receivers that can catch the football and a defense that can keep the other team from scoring.

Winning football is truly a team effort, but nothing gives a team a better chance to win than a skilled, experienced player at quarterback.