Prep football: QB question marks hold the key to Region 12 race
It's the year of quarterback uncertainty in Region 12.
With the 2012 season just a few weeks away, all four playoff teams from a year ago have question marks at quarterback. Most agree it's a good problem to have multiple options at arguably the most important position on the field, but it's never an easy decision for the coaches.
So while Spanish Fork, Delta, Juab and North Sanpete wrestle with their own QB decisions, non-playoff teams from a year ago Payson and Carbon are in great position to capitalize with quality returning starters.
Payson gunslinger Devan Judd threw for nearly 3,000 yards last year, and he's worked extremely hard in the offseason at recognizing coverages to improve his decision making. With his experience, the Lions could be a sleeper team in Region 12.
"Devan's strength has always been he's a smart kid. He's a 4.0 student, and he does that because the time he puts into whatever he's doing is fantastic. His development has been immense in his understanding football," said Payson coach Jeremy Chapman.
Carbon's Dakota Cisneros is a returning starter as well, and like Judd his understanding of the spread offense should be much improved in year two.
As for the other four Region 12 teams — those most likely to compete for the league title — it's not quite so cut and dry.
Spanish Fork first-year coach Kirk Chambers inherits a program he says former coach Matt Christensen left in fantastic shape. Replacing first-team all-state quarterback Hayden Nielsen has been the first order of business, and junior Jeremiah Evans and sophomore Jason Money have been battling it out throughout the summer.
The Dons were the Region 12 runner-up a year ago, but they advanced to the 3A semifinals with an upset of three-time state champion Juan Diego in the quarterfinals.
Chambers said despite the departure of a great graduating class, expectations haven't been lowered.
"The senior class is very motivated and they understand their role as being leaders and being the players that push this team. The great thing about them is they're the ones with the high expectations of themselves, you can coach that, but it's much better if you don't have to so you can focus on the finer points of the game," said Chambers, who a seven-year veteran of the NFL who retired after last season.
He's loved working with the kids so far, and jokes it's ironic a former NFL offensive lineman has a quarterback controversy in his first year as head coach.
Delta coach Russ Henrie hasn't had to worry about the quarterback position for three years. Colin Christensen owned that position since his sophomore year, but his graduation leaves a big hole to fill in the inverted wishbone offense.
Throughout the summer Henrie has been looking at senior Hunter Johnson and junior A.J. Schena, and both my end up getting playing time this season.
The Rabbits only returning four starters, which Henrie said is going to make repeating as region champs tough.
"There's going to be some learning curve in the first part of the season; hopefully by the end when they count, we'll starting getting to where we need to be," he said.
North Sanpete's QB quandary is an interesting one.
Freshman Brady Wheeler started 10 games last year after Rhett Bird injured himself in the first game of the year. He had his fair share of struggles, but he's improved throughout the summer.
Ed Moroney isn't ready to concede the starting job. A receiver last year, the senior approached first-year coach Matt Roberts on his first day on the job and said he wanted to play quarterback this season.
"It's close, and each of them do different things well. We'll go up to Aug. 17, and we'll know then who our starter is," said Roberts.
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