Carroll, Heights get QBs in place for early showdown
Through the course of summer workouts and the nearly three weeks of football practices, the Bishop Carroll and Heights coaches have paid close attention to their quarterbacks, who have been locked in intense competitions.
It wasn’t until Thursday that Carroll coach Alan Schuckman said senior Tyler Skilling will start Friday’s game with visiting Heights. Thursday was also the day Heights coach Terry Harrison said junior Trenton Autry will start.
Making the decision wasn’t easy, and Harrison said his staff has tracked its quarterbacks’ decisions on every play since summer camps in Tulsa and at Heights.
“Every play there’s decisions that can be made, and we put a lot on our quarterback,” Harrison said. “Do they make the right decision, make the wrong decision, put us in the wrong play, if we made the wrong play call, did they put us in a better one?”
The process was long, but Harrison and Schuckman said their quarterbacks benefited from it.
“Like I tell them, ‘You’re constantly getting evaluated, so you’re constantly put in a situation where you’ve got to perform. You can’t relax,’” said Schuckman of Skilling and junior Colton Howell.
“… I think these two know they have to go out each day and perform at practice. That’s a positive for the team because they’re constantly put in a situation where there’s pressure. Having not played many varsity snaps, that kind of gives them a game-type feeling.”
For Heights, Autry got the nod over senior Forlanda Parker, who stepped in last season and replaced Chris Reed as the Falcons went 7-3.
Harrison called his conversation with Parker as one of the toughest he’s had.
“He’s a great kid, he’s a great leader,” Harrison said of Parker. “… I was a quarterback in high school, and I ended up getting replaced, so I completely understand where he’s at. He’s not out of the equation. He’ll get practice reps every day.”
While Parker is there if needed, and could play other positions, Autry is the quarterback Harrison believes Heights can win with.
Autry can throw, and he’s such a fast, strong runner, Harrison said he could play tailback.
“He’s just been the best quarterback in our program right now,” Harrison said. “It was a great competition. He’s made the best decisions. He’s been the most consistent. He made the biggest plays.”
The last time Carroll had a quarterback competition before the season was in 2007, when Brett Steven and Dustin Moses occasionally alternated series. In the intervening years, the starter would get 95 percent of the reps.
One of the areas Schuckman and quarterbacks coach Dusty Trail focused on was ball protection. Under Eagle Top 11 quarterback Zeke Palmer last season, the Eagles had five turnovers — and the Carroll defense scored six times off opponents’ turnovers.
And while the competition was tight throughout between Skilling and Howell, Schuckman doesn’t want to have a repeat of 2007.
“I don’t think we’ll get to a point where we’re alternating quarterbacks,” Schuckman said. “It will be whoever we feel like is taking control of the offense.
“With Tyler, we feel like he’s got the most experience. We feel like he can get the football to the guys who need to get it and have command of the offense.”
Even the receivers have benefited during the quarterback competition.
“It’s odd taking reps from both quarterbacks, but it gives a good look and it gives good preparation because if we do get a different look in the game, it won’t surprise you,” Carroll senior receiver Scott Linnebur said.