Noah Coughran showed how good he was at the Duel, finishing in fourth place among incoming seventh graders.
The success at NFA’s showcase competition in Atlanta carried right over into his season.
“My goal at the Duel was to finish in the Top 10, so I was happy I made it into the Top 5,” Coughran said. “I know exactly the things I need to work on to, hopefully, win it all one day. It was awesome to compete against some of the top competition in the nation. Mostly, the reps and having the opportunity to practice over and over again made me feel more confident.”
The strong showing at the Duel helped him land the starting quarterback back job on Valley Christian Junior High’s eighth grade team in San Jose, Calif. “It meant a lot because it showed that the coaches and athletic department had faith in my abilities to lead an older team,” Coughran said. “It’s been neat to watch experienced and new players improve this year.”
In addition to playing for the VCJH Warriors, he also played for High Intensity SD and the High Intensity Cali Packers. “On my travel teams, I was happy to play against some of the top competition in the nation in the different skills positions,” Coughran said. “It challenged me, which also means it made me better.”
Coughran has been getting better and better in the five years he’s been playiong QB. “I really like the pressure,” he said. “I like to compete, and I like having the ball in my hands in critical moments. I think my strengths are accuracy, power and footwork. I’m working on having ‘tensegrity’ at all times. I also want to be more patient and get better throwing on the run when I’m running to the right.”
Training with NFA since 2015 has helped Coughran develop into one of the top young quarterbacks in the country. “NFA has helped me understand the position,” he said. “They’ve taught me how to train and how to tweak things. Most importantly, NFA has taught me the importance of game speed and work ethic, and how character always matters. That’s why my goals this season were making my teammates better by working hard, having high character and improving my QB skill set.”
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Matthew Long is down for the season, but the up-and-coming quarterback is going to come back next year and continue building on a strong foundation.
Before being sidelined for the season with a shoulder injury while playing linebacker for the Vista Junior Eagles, Long was having a standout year as a two-way player.
In 5 games with the Eagles, the 5-foot-7, 155-pounder put up prolific numbers at quarterback. Long connected on 13-of-25 passes for 245 yards and 4 touchdowns. Showing impressive precision, he was not intercepted and he posted a 125.8 quarterback rating.
He also ran for 481 yards on 34 carries and scored 5 TDs. Long’s athletic ability was even more evident as he caught 4 passes for 80 yards and 4 touchdowns.
While he is good enough to play all over the field, quarterback is Long’s first love. “I like the different options you have, such as passing or running,” he said.
Long’s been playing quarteback for four years, and he entered the season with one key goal. “To be a better team leader,” he said.
Even though his season was cut short by injury, Long was extremely satisfied on two fronts. “As a team, I’m most happy about how well everyone played together,” he said. “As an individual I’m most happy about being a positive leader both on and off the field.”
As a QB, Long has a very promising future. “I think my strengths are being able to read the defense and deciding when to pass or run,” he said. “I want to continue working on making decisions under pressure.”
Training with NFA for three years has helped Long make better decisions and develop his overall game. “NFA camps have taught me the mechanics to be a stronger and more accurate QB,” he said. “NFA has also given me the skills to be a better leader for my team.”
At an NFA camp in Rancho Cordova, Calif., Long received an invitation to the Duel, NFA’s international QB competition held in Atlanta. He finished fifth among incoming seventh graders.
“The great competition at the Duel helped me step up my game and take me to the next level,” Long said. “It really helped get me ready. I came into the season better prepared and with more confidence.”
In addition to his talent on the football field, Long is an Honor Roll student at Folsom Middle School. “Doing well in school helps me to focus on football and not worry about my grades,” he said.
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Cash O’Callaghan’s remarkable success as a young quarterback is not an accident.
“It shows that my hard work is paying off,” he said. “It proved that the hours of training I put in throughout the year, in-season and off-season, my passion for the sport, my focus on nutrition, the time I spend watching and breaking down video, all helped me to get to where I am today.”
Here’s where O’Callaghan is at. Through the first 8 games of the season, he’s guided the Petaluma (Calif.) Panthers to a 5-3 record. There is one game left in the regular season before the playoffs begin.
“Going into the season, the goals were to lead my team to the playoffs and win the league championship,” he said. “We have a solid group of returning players and several strong receivers, which makes us hard for defenses to stop.”
O’Callaghan has been extremely difficult to stop at quarterback. He completed 119 of 176 attempts passes for 1,621 yards and 17 touchdowns in the Panthers’ first 8 games.
“I am happy with my performance passing as well as rushing,” O’Callaghan said. “I also feel that my mechanics have improved and that I have grown as a leader.”
The team success should come as no suprise. Last year, O’Callaghan played on a team that went 8-3 during the regular season and 10-4 through the playoffs before earning a bid to compete in the inaugural Pro Football Hall of Fame National Youth Championships in Canton, Ohio. The team won 2 of 3 games in the regional tournament to take first place in an 11-state region and went on to finish third in the country.
O’Callaghan has been playing football for five years, all of them at quarterback. He’s also played safety, defensive end and special teams, but QB is his go-to position. “I really like the opportunity to run the whole offense and the need to understand what every player on the field is doing, or should be doing, at any given time,” O’Callaghan said.
Before the season started, he placed fourth among incoming sixth graders at the Duel. “Knowing that not only could I compete, but take fourth place among the top QBs in the nation, was a huge confidence booster,” said O’Callaghan, who received his Duel invitation at an NFA camp in Pleasanton, Calif.
O’Callaghan has been training with NFA since 2015.
“Training with NFA has improved my mechanics, taught me how to better read and respond to a defense and helped me to become a better leader,” he said. “Learning and applying the R4 offensive system into my passing game has helped me tremendously.”
As successful as he is on the football field, O’Callaghan is also an Honor Roll student at Sonoma Mountain Elementary. “Doing well in school teaches me focus, discipline and time management,” he said.
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FB: Kristin Taylor O’Callaghan
What do you get when you put a very good quarterback on a very good team? Devin Rasmussen and the San Joaquin Jr. Rams is an accurate answer.
Bolstered by the strong play of Rasmussen under center, the Rams won their first 10 games of the season while climbing to No. 3 overall in the Northern California Bay Area 10U power rankings.
“The thing I’m happiest about with my team is that we all play together,” Rasmussen said. “Everyone does a good job at doing their job and we all have fun together.”
Winning games is always fun, and Rasmussen has done his part to help the Rams by completing 67 percent of his passes for 587 yards and 11 touchdowns with only 1 interception through 10 games.
“The thing I’m happiest about for me for this season is I think I’m doing a good job running the offense and contributing to our team’s success,” he said.
A fifth grader at Marion Mix Elementary School in Elk Grove, Calif., Rasmussen has a 3.5 GPA this year. Doing so well in school has helped him through his four seasons of playing quarterback.
“I like the responsibility that comes with being a quarterback,” Rasmussen said. “I think my strength is my composure in the pocket. I don’t see a lot of my peers looking as relaxed as I do when being rushed. The thing I need to improve on is my speed so I’m a better threat once I get outside of the pocket. I also want to become a better leader.”
Training with QBA at six camps over the last three years has helped Rasmussen become a better QB and a better leader. “QBA has helped not only with my confidence, but also teaching me the basic fundamentals of the position,” he said.
Rasmussen qualified for his first Duel at a QBA camp in Oakland. He placed fifth among incoming fourth/fifth graders at the July competition in Atlanta.
“My goal going into the Duel was to be a finalist,” Rasmussen said. “I’m very proud to have achieved that goal. Doing well at the Duel boosted my confidence. It showed me that I am a good quarterback for my age group and that I belong at the position.”
Tristan Szabo is a talented young quarterback, there is no doubt about it.
The eighth grader from Sparks, Nevada, got his second invitation to the Duel in July and finished first among incoming eighth graders in NFA’s national competition.
“It was huge,” Szabo said of his Duel triumph. “You’re going against the best of the best there and to come out of it with a win, that was really good for me.”
Heading into his current season with the Spanish Springs Cougars in the Sierra Youth Football League, Szabo’s confidence was understandably high.
“Knowing you just won this national competition and then going into your season, it’s like, wow,” he said. “I got to show what I can do and that was really big for my confidence.”
Through no fault of his own, Szabo didn’t get a great chance to show his talent in the Cougars’ first six games of the season. They won them all while outscoring the opposition by a staggering 315-41.
The SYFL mercy rule dicates that offensive starters have to come off the field in blowouts, so Szabo averaged less than two quarters of play at QB in his team’s first six games.
“It’s been super frustrating,” he said. “When you get taken out, you’re not allowed to play any other offensive position. But I’ve been really happy with the way the team’s been playing. Our team goal is to make it to Las Vegas and win state.”
With Szabo under center, that goal has a very good chance of becoming reality. In their seventh game of the season, the Cougars dropped a tough 30-27 decision, but Szabo delivered an impressive performance with 3 touchdown passes and another rushing TD. For the season, he’s connected on 31 of 52 passes and thrown 14 touchdowns while rushing for 427 yards and 6 scores.
“I’m super happy,” Szabo said. “I feel like I’m accomplishing what my coaches need from me and I believe I’m doing what everybody said I couldn’t.”
When he has been on the field, Szabo has thrived in Spanish Springs’ shotgun offense. “I think it’s the best offense to be in,” he said. “Honestly, you get to choose what you want to do. I always have a release route, but I like to tuck it because I like to run the football.”
When his QB play was limited during the Cougar’s first six games, Szabo was allowed to play defense and he made a big impact in the secondary with 3 interceptions. “Being a quarterback playing cornerback or safety, you can tell what the other offense is going to do because you know what your receivers are going to do,” he said. “And it’s easier to read the other quarterback’s eyes and get a good break on the ball.”
Szabo is a standout defender, but he is much more at home on the other side of the ball at quarterback. “I’ve been playing quarterback my whole career, since I was seven years old,” the 13-year-old QB said. “I love getting the chance to run the team. You’re telling everybody else what to do, but you have to be on the same page with your coaches and decide what to do. You’re the leader of the team and you have a lot of responsibility. That motivates me.”
Training with NFA the last three years has helped Szabo become one of the top eighth grade quarterbacks in the nation. “NFA has really helped me with my arm, my throwing motion,” he said. “I used to kind of throw the football like a baseball. They’ve also helped me with my overall mechanics, looking off the safety, recognizing coverages. They’ve helped me more than I can explain.”
NFA has always been about family.
Players that start honing their football skills as youngsters and stick with NFA through high school are part of the family.
The coaching staff is one big, highly-skilled family.
Then there are the Robisons, who have taken the family aspect of NFA to an impressive level.
In addition to coaching football at the collegiate and high school levels, Rod Robison has been with NFA for the past decade, and he was the first winner of the Jeff Menage Award.
“Great person, great football coach,” said NFA founder/president Darin Slack. “We spent 53 days on the road one summer. If there is a guy on our team that has embodied the kinds of things that Jeff did, it’s Rod Robison.”
Heidi Robison, Rod’s wife, is also involved with NFA. For the past three years, she’s handled logistics and merchandise at NFA camps.
“It’s wonderful,” Heidi said. “I was thinking about it, we’re very lucky to all speak the same language.”
Sonny Robison is the son of Rod and Heidi, and he’s been training at NFA camps for the past 10 years. The promising quarterback will be a senior at Carter High School in Rialto, Calif., next season.
“It’s been great,” Sonny said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for NFA and the camps I’ve been through and my dad being involved with NFA. What they do for quarterbacks, from the youth level up to college and even coming into the pros, it’s just tremendous. I don’t think there’s another company out there that focuses so much on the details and the specifics of the quarterback position. It’s been a great experience and I’m so happy my dad got involved with NFA. They bring so much to the table. It’s been a great experience and each and every camp continues to be a great experience for me.”
After playing varsity football as a QB as a freshman and sophomore at two different high schools in Nevada before the family relocated to California last May, Sonny Robison has found a home at Carter H.S.
“When I was coming in, it was a little bit different just because the competition here was much better than the football in Nevada,” Robison said. “At first, it was a little shocking. But the quarterback that was a junior last year, he was more of a better fit for tight end and linebacker. So it actually worked out real well that I was able to step in and kind of compete with him and maybe give us a little bit of an upper hand so he could move into another position. It was really easy to come down here, get to know the team and bond with those guys. It’s been a real fun experience.”
Sonny Robison actually made the move look easy. Probably easier than it really was.
“I’m extremely proud of his accomplishments, both on the field and off the field,” Heidi Robison said. “He keeps an even keel no matter what. He is able to keep an even temperament and bring positives to the team. And I’m really proud of his school work as well.”
After taking over for Brett Hernandez at quarterback for Carter last season, Robison passed for almost 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for nearly 100 and another score.
“Transferring to Carter, a big thing I wanted to do was take the next step after playing freshman and sophomore ball at the varsity level,” said the 6-foot, 185-pound Robison. “I wanted to step up my game. It was nice to transfer down to Southern Cal and be able to play with a group of better athletes and a little more competition. I was excited to do that. We were only 7-3 and maybe I didn’t have the greatest stats, but I thought it wasa good year to kind of get the ball rolling and hopefully get some college looks. I tried to improve my craft as far as being able to throw the ball around as an athlete and make myself a little bit better.”
The Lions play in the rugged Citrus Belt League, and they did not qualify for the California state playoffs despite the 7-3 record.
Ring’s the thing
As he prepares for his senior year at Carter, extending the season is a major goal for Robison.
“Playing three years of high school at three different schools has been a little challenging,” he said. “But whatever team I play on, we want to get a ring. That’s always been the goal. There are personal stats but at the end of the day, it’s all about making the playoffs and taking the team to state. I was disappointed my junior year, going 7-3 and not making the playoffs. That’s been the biggest motivator for me. I want to get that ring and I want to get that ring for the team. Throwing for over 2,500 yards and rushing for over 1,000 are great goals to have, but at the end of the day, the ring is what matters.”
While he always trained with NFA as a quarterback, Robison didn’t play the position until he was a freshman in high school.
“I was a running back in Pop Warner and Youth League,” he said. “I would go to NFA camps and train as a quarterback and end up as a running back in youth ball.”
Given his upbringing and NFA experience, Robison didn’t stress while patiently waiting to get his shot at QB. He actually made the most of the situation.
“I always felt like playing running back while I was training to be a quarterback, that helped me tremendously,” Robison said. “Playing in the backfield for so long, you kind of get a feel. And I think that helped me as far as being able to run the ball and kind of having that tougher mentality. It was difficult at times because I felt like I’ve been training as a quarterback and they’re putting me back at running back. But I continued to trust the process and I knew when I got to high school, everything was going to work itself out.”
Now that he is rooted at Carter High School and has one big season under his belt, Robison’s long-time dream of playing college football is starting to come into view.
“That’s always been a high goal for me, since I was a little kid,” he said. “How can I continue to play at the next level? Whether it’s Division I, Division II, Division III, playing JC and transferring, the ultimate goal has always been playing college football. And not only playing at the next level, but being able to compete and dominate at the next level.”
Having played football for so long, Robison is always working on his game and trying to get better. That hasn’t changed this winter.
“I’d like to think of myself as dual threat,” Robison said. “I want to be able to make big plays when the pocket breaks down. As I roll into my senior year, one of the things I could get a little bit better at is staying in the pocket more and become more of a pocket passer while also working on my speed and be able to kind of turn into that dual threat kind of guy.”
As he awaits his senior season of high school and beyond, there is little doubt that Robison’s vast experience with NFA is going to help him reach any and all goals.
“It’s imprinting,” Rod Robison said. “What kids are exposed to, the imprinting, they’ll start to embody it. It’s been 10 years with Sonny and NFA, and I think with the exposure to the NFA program and the coaches and the process, he embodies it. He’s like any other kid, he comes up against himself at times. But the way he handles it has been a very positive experience.”
At 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, Christian Williams might not quite measure up to the expected size of a prototypical big-time quarterback.
“I have to play a different type of game,” said Williams, a junior QB at Black Hills High School in Tumwater, Washington.
Heading into the season, Williams had to compete with a senior for playing time, and that’s a big part of his game. He loves to compete.
“I think the reason I wound up winning the job is I tried to work as hard as I can, I went to camps, I lifted weights and I got a lot better,” Williams said.
All of the effort is paying off in a very big way this season. Black Hills is off to a 7-0 start for the first time in school history, and Williams has been superb under center.
He has completed 43 of 69 passes (62.3 percent) for 1,009 yards and 12 touchdowns while throwing only 2 interceptions. Williams has also rushed for 156 yards and 2 scores.
“It’s really exciting here,” Williams said. “I had a feeling we could do really good just based on the talent alone. But we’ve all put in a lot of work. This year, we all stepped up and matured and are playing the game like men.”
After playing sparingly for the Wolves’ varsity as a sophomore, Williams split at quarterback in the first three games before taking over as the starter.
“At first, I wasn’t used to the spotlight,” he said. “Going in for a couple plays on varsity last year, I was a little scared of the spotlight. This year, I’m comfortable with everything that’s going on and I’m kind of surprised with the comfort level I’m at and how well I’m performing and reading coverages, everything like that. It feels really good to finally get recognized for all the hard work I put in and showing everybody what I can do.”
As the season has progressed, Williams has been taking his game to higher and higher level. In Black Hills’ last game, a 42-7 win, he connected on 8 of 15 passes for 208 yards and 2 touchdowns before making an early exit due to the lopsided score.
“It took a couple games for me to jell with everybody,” Williams said. “At the beginning fo the season, we were rotating but since I’ve been the starter, things have been clicking really well. I know where everybody is going to be and I’ve timed it up really well and we’re clicking.”
Williams has been playing quarterback since he was 10 years old. When he was a freshman, he attended his first NFA camp. For the past two years, he has been in the Blackshirt program.
“Before I started working with JC Boice and NFA, I was more of an athlete playing quarterback,” Williams said. “But after working with JC, I’ve become an athletic quarterback playing quarterback. If I didn’t start working with JC and NFA, I wouldn’t be able to read coverages as well I do or know where the gaps are going to be in the defense or know how to go through my progressions. It would be more like backyard football.”
Boice has been very impressed with Williams’ steady development. “Christian is a fantastic ‘feel good’ story,” Boice said. “The kid has been relentless in his work ethic. He’s more proof that a shorter statured quarterback can be very successful if he’s willing to put in the work and dedicate himself. Christian has definitely earned the success he is presently having. And he’s not just hard-working – he’s very athletic and has a knack for making good plays out of nothing.”