New QBs litter landscape as season gets underway
As a high school quarterback at Lawton High, Aso Pogi said he never experienced a light-switch moment when he suddenly began reading defenses in motion. That didn't happen until his college career at Oklahoma State began.
Now a quarterbacks coach at the high school level for the past 15 years, Pogi has realized a hard truth: That light may never come on for most prep quarterbacks.
"I don't know if you ever get there (in high school) where you can read coverages to the point where you see them in movement," Pogi said. "The other part (is) defensive fronts. For example up front if they're in a 4-3, or a 3-3, a 3-3 stack, or a 50 front, understanding what defensive linemen do, how they contribute to linebacker play, which contributes to the secondary."
A young quarterback may recognize a Cover 2 defense before the ball is snapped. After that, things change, Pogi said.
This season, 17 area quarterbacks are finding that out as they replace their predecessors.
Defending Class 5A state champion Altus saw Jake Vargas, a junior, make his debut under center at Clinton last week and helped secure his dad Todd Vargas' first career win as a head coach. Coby Kirkland guided Duncan to a road win at Sapulpa in the Demons' opener, ushering in a new era without former QB Luke Ring. The list goes on (see below).
Immense pressure awaits the 17- and 18-year-olds stepping into these starting roles for the first time. The offense is a symphony, which they are assigned to conduct.
"There's a mixture of nerves, a mixture of anxiousness. My job as a quarterbacks coach is to try to get you as prepared as possible for what you're going to see," said Pogi, who is in his third year coaching the position at Cache.
Cache's offense helps ease the pressure on one quarterback to shoulder the entire load. The Bulldogs deliberately utilized two different quarterbacks situationally all of last season. Matt Seratte and Terence Young split repetitions exactly 50-50 against Harrah in the playoffs.
With different packages for each player, it allows each to focus on his specialty. This year Cache has Jayden Garcia and Jair Thomas, with Garcia the more proficient passer and Thomas a zone-read style threat.
While having two quarterbacks cuts down on the mental workload, Cache's offense is diverse and utilizes a multitude of players it still contains a lot of information to digest.
Garcia, who like Thomas moved to Cache from Lawton High, spent his early career soaking up as much information as he could from former LHS quarterback Jack Meservy. That knowledge, along with Pogi's assistance, has helped him better understand Cache's system.
"It puts a lot of responsibility on us to know more receivers, more plays, more route combinations," Garcia said. "But if (the skill players) know it too it goes so smooth, because there's never any miscommunications if we have the right guy on the field. If he knows what we're doing it gives us the advantage of giving guys breaks."
Until last week's opener at Lone Grove, a 28-7 Cache win, Thomas hadn't played the position in a real game since before junior high normally he's a receiver.
"This offense is pretty simple. The coaches put us in a position to win with all the different personnel groupings we have," Thomas said. "It's a lot of fun."