EAST JACKSON lost its primary quarterback off a team that struggled to throw the ball last year.
So, it’s no secret where Eagle coaches are looking this spring football session.
“We’ve got to find a quarterback right now,” said second-year coach Brian Smith, whose team started practice last Wednesday. “That’s the no. 1 battle for us is to find a quarterback. We’ve got a large number of guys vying for that position.”
Taylor Saulters, Austin Beauchamp, Caleb Hill, Spencer Davis, Brodie Strong (a transfer), Casey Reed and Patrick Chastain are all taking snaps this spring as the Eagles search for a more formidable aerial attack.
East Jackson threw for just 134 yards combined all year last fall as the Eagles lost their last six games and finished 3-7. East Jackson’s lack of a passing game made the Eagles — who ran for 1,929 yards on the year — decidedly one-dimensional. In fact, East Jackson had three games where it passed for zero yards.
Smith is all for putting the ball in the air more. In fact, that’s what he likes to do in his no-huddle spread offensive scheme.
“That’s where we want to be anyways,” Smith said. “I would like to be throwing it a whole lot more than we have been. The more you throw in games, the more you throw in practice. And the more you throw in practice, the better of you’re going to be.”
Right now, East Jackson is just trying to evaluate everyone.
“We’ve just got to get everybody reps there right now,” said Smith, who noted that part of the process is figuring out who among that quarterback group would help the Eagles more at another position.
While East Jackson is looking to bolster its passing game during the spring session, it is also trying to limit the number of two-way players as much as possible.
“It’s not something that we’d like to do,” Smith said of having two-way players. “We’d love to be able to two-platoon and being able to have a guy rep only offense or defense all year.”
The Eagles have already taken a step in that area by getting 59 rising sophomore through seniors on the practice field for the spring session. That number will rise when the upcoming freshmen join spring workouts.
“We feel pretty good about our numbers,” Smith said. “We’ve done a decent job, we feel like, of recruiting the halls here and getting a few more kids out that were sitting in the stands and playing some other sports. That’s part of the process of building a program.”
Smith said this year’s spring session is going much more smoothly since he’s now in his second year with the program and has a lot more familiarity with his players than he did last year.
“It’s incredible …. I can probably point out and show every kid right now that’s out there and name them,” Smith said. “And this time last year, that wouldn’t be the case.”
The spring season will conclude Friday, May 11, with the Eagles’ spring football game in a yet-to-be-determined format. East Jackson’s two middle school feeder programs — Kings Bridge and East Jackson middle schools — will scrimmage prior to the varsity.
“We’re going to try to put all that in place for that night and have a night of football,” Smith said.