Friday, July 06, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> NP coach looking at four QBs

Leader sports editor

Quarterback was a position that required emergency attention just before the start of last season at North Pulaski. Second-year Falcon head coach Teodis Ingram is determined not to repeat that same scenario again this season. He is working to get several players ready to go under center.

Last year the projected starting quarterback, senior Shyheim Barron, transferred to Mills a week before the season started after going through summer workouts and preseason two-a-days with North Pulaski. This summer, Ingram is working several different players at quarterback and refuses at this point to even name a front runner, much less a projected starter.

“I look for that to be decided the week before the first game.” Ingram said. “Right now we’re looking at about four different guys and no one has really, you know, taken the reins and really separated himself.”

The four players getting repetitions at quarterback are Doug Gates, Ashton Nichols, Steven Ferrier and Dallas Romaine.

Gates is a sophomore, Nichols is a junior, Ferrier and Romaine are seniors, but it’s Ferrier’s first year to play and Romaine’s never played quarterback.

“We don’t have any experience with anyone on our team playing quarterback at the varsity level,” Ingram said. “We’re working a lot of different guys to see which ones can step in and fill that role for us.”

North Pulaski has concentrated mostly on weight training this summer, with a focus on getting stronger, but it did take part in a team camp in early June at Joe T. Robinson High School. That’s where Ingram got the best look so far at how his quarterbacks handle the passing game.

“We struggled getting the ball where we needed it, to be honest,” Ingram said. “The good thing is we didn’t go there looking to win games. We went there trying to get a look at some players and trying to get a little better. The more we played, it got a little better. You could see the guys starting to understand where to put the ball, to throw it at a spot and let the receivers finish their routes and go get it. So it was positive overall.”

Receivers is one area Ingram feels very good about. Austin Allen and Alex Broadwell have done an exceptional job so far, according to Ingram.

“They’re going to be OK,” Ingram said. “When we got the ball to them, the receivers caught the ball. Austin Allen made one really great catch and it was the result of the quarterback putting it in a zone. Austin wasn’t there when he threw it, but he got there and he made the catch. I think the more reps we get, the more comfortable they’re going to get in that quarterback position.”

Pass coverage is something else Ingram thinks will be better this year than last. Fred Thomas returns with more strength and speed. Darren McGroan has also stepped up his game in a big way.

“The one that’s really come a long way is Darren McGroan,” Ingram said. “He went head to head with receivers from Bryant and schools like that, and he picked up a lot. He’s very coachable and has really improved.

“Thomas is another one that’s improved. He’s a raw athlete, and this year is learning a lot.”

North Pulaski has another team camp scheduled for July 16 at Robinson.