The Dekalb football team returns 17 starters this season, but the Barbs will have a new face at the game’s most important position.
With quarterback Jack Sauter’s graduation, a competition has opened this offseason between three players. Juniors Tony Tate and Ethan Conroy along with sophomore Derek Kyler are the options to be Sauter’s replacement. All three players have been working to make the decision for head coach Matt Weckler incredibly difficult.
“We were very fortunate a season ago to have a guy like Jack who was both experienced and a good leader that knew our offense inside and out.” Weckler said. “All three guys have worked hard this offseason and need to take more reps in practice to put themselves in the best position to be the guy when we kick off the season.”
One of those three guys is junior Tony Tate. Tate spent a lot of time playing at slot receiver for Dekalb a season ago. Tate has worked in the offseason at both wide receiver and quarterback, but believes his multiple skill set gives him an advantage in Dekalb’s offense.
“I’m a dual-threat quarterback; I can run and throw effectively.” Tate said. “I have experience in the offense having played receiver a season ago, it’s a bit of an adjustment but one that I am more than capable of making.”
Another player competing for the spot is Tate’s classmate Conroy, the starting quarterback for the sophomore team last season.
“I’ve played in the offense before and have the experience that could give me the upper hand.” Conroy said. “Ultimately I know that we are going to have to take reps in practice and ultimately let the best option for the team be the starter.”
The youngest player in the competition is left-handed thrower Derek Kyler, the starting quarterback for Dekalb’s freshman team. Despite his overall inexperience he believes that he is prepared to compete at the varsity level.
“I know that I’m the young guy of the group, but to me that means I just have to work harder to prove that my lack of experience won’t matter, I’ve done a lot to learn how to read coverages and learn the playbook.” Kyler said.
As coaches often say, competition breeds excellence, and all three players believe the competition will be healthy for the team, and ultimately it will not drive anyone apart.
“We understand it’s a competition, but at the end of the day we are all friends with each other, and understand that we all will do what is best for the team.” Kyler said.
The competition heated up at Tuesday’s 7-on-7 passing tournament with all three quarterbacks getting reps against teams around the area. It will continue when Dekalb, and the rest of the high schools within the area kick off practice Aug. 11.