Playing quarterback requires an ability to adapt to constant change.
There are different offensive sets for different downs. Different defensive alignments.
Younger QBs often have to adapt to playing for different leagues and schools, and that is a transition Tristen Shewmake was able to make this season.
After moving from Bullard to Jacksonville High School in Texas, he made a great impression on Indians football coach Wayne Coleman. “Tristen came in and had a good spring,” Coleman told the Jacksonville Progress. “He continued to do well in 7-on-7 drills and worked hard this summer. He is an intelligent kid and a good decision maker on the field. He knows when we need to pass the ball and when we need to run.”
Shewmake wound up passing for 1,430 yards and 13 touchdowns and he also rushed for 205 yards and 5 TDs while earning All District honors. He’s run a 4.68 40-yard dash and can throw the football nearly 70 yards.
“Being new to the district after coming over in March of 2018, I was impressed by our team’s hard work and attitude,” Shewmake said.
The highlight of the season was a 42-38 win over Pine Tree H.S. Shewmake completed 13 of 26 passes for 293 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a game-winning 34-yard completion with 20 seconds left on the clock. That earned him Player of the Week honors.
Shewmake has been playing quarterback since he was 5 years old. “I like the quick thinking under pressure,” he said.
As he prepares for his senior season with the Indians, he’ll continue working to get better while training with NFA for the second year. “I’m always trying to improve myself in every area,” Shewmake said. “Any positive coaching and training is always a win for me. There is always room for more training and improvements.”
Before the season, Shewmake was invited to the Duel at the Dallas OSD and he finished third among incoming juniors at NFA’s showcase QB competition. “The Duel was a great confidence builder for me going into the season,” he said. “To be invited and compete with the best and perform well is an honor.”
While he is a a high achiever on the football field, Shewmake is also near the top of his class on the academic front. “Doing well in the classroom requires smart, quick thinking and it transfers on to the football field,” he said.
Bjorn Jurgensen is back playing football, and he’s picked right back up as a productive quarterback.
“I’m happy to be back healthy and playing a sport I love,” he said.
A sixth grader at Avalon Middle School in Orlando, Fla., Jurgensen missed last season with a hip injury, but he’s come back strong this year.
Back at QB, he’s helped his Avalon Wolves Junior PeeWee Division 2 team get off to a 5-2 start. “I’m happy that we have players that are willing to work hard as a team,” Jurgensen said. “I love getting the ball to my teammates and scoring touchdowns.
Through the first 7 games of the season, he did just that, completing 45 of 83 passes for 683 yards and 11 TDs. Jurgensen was intercepted only three times during the stretch.
Playing quarterback for four years has helped him overcome last year’s layoff and continue playing at a high level. “It’s trusting the pocket and being able to extend plays if something bad happens,”
Jurgensen said. “It’s relying on my arm strength, accuracy and keeping my eyes down the field. I’m working to improve quickly reading defenses and trusting my line.”
Before the season, Jurgensen received a Duel invite at an NFA camp in Orlando. He finished in third place among incoming sixth graders.
“I think I could have done better,” Jurgensen said. “I have never thrown at stationary targets like that so if I could do it again, I would have practiced more. It made me want to work harder to be the best in the country.”
Training with NFA for the past year has helped him become one of the top sixth grade QBs in the country. “NFA has helped me with my throwing mechanics and staying under control,” Jurgensen said.
An Honor Roll student, Jurgensen’s success in school spills over into football. “Doing well in school helps me understand my playbook, which is 50 plays, and it helps me make quick decisions,” he said.
SOCIAL MEDIA INFO:
On the football field and in the classroom, Riley Trujillo is an accelerated performer.
A sixth grader at Patriot Oaks Academy in St. Johns, Fla., Trujillo helped the Creek Outlaws go undefeated and reach the Southeast Regional championship game in 2016. This season, his Outlaws team mixed in numerous new players and went 7-1 while advancing to the city championship.
“My goal this season was to make it to the city championship and have the opportunity to play in the Jacksonville Jaguars Stadium,” Trujillo said. “I am happy that we made it to the city championship and were able to have the experience of playing at the Jacksonville Jaguars Stadium. I feel that as a team we came together and welcomed the new members. The returning players set high expectations and were established role models for the new players.”
Playing quarterback for the Outlaws, Trujillo passed for 7 touchdowns and added 10 more rushing scores.
He has the distinction of being a named second-team All American for Pop Warner Scholar Athletes. A straight-A student, Trujillo has also achieved the Presidential Academic Award.
“School develops critical thinking skills and problem solving skills, which are necessary to interpreting and executing plays on the football field,” he said.
Before the season started, Trujillo received an invite to the Duel and finished fourth among incoming sixth graders. He qualified for QBA’s showcase event in Orlando.
“I am proud of my success at the Duel, but I think I could have done better,” Trujillo said. “I will continue to work harder.”
Training with QBA for the past year has helped Trujillo’s development as a quarterback. “I have learned mechanics and footwork,” he said. “And QBA has helped
me to learn to read the defense better and making smarter decisions with the ball.”
Having already played QB for seven years, Trujillo is advanced for his age. But he is far from satisfied. “I am happy with the strength and accuracy of my throws,” he said. “But I need to improve my speed and I’m also working on improving my agility.”
Given his skill and smarts, Trujillo is certain to continue tracking upward at a position he loves playing. “I have fun when I play,” he said. “I enjoy the pressure of a close game and bringing my team back to a win.”
Already an experienced quarterback at a young age, Luke Knight is used to dealing with the pressures that come with playing the demanding position.
But when he arrived in Atlanta for his first Duel competition this summer and saw all of the talent from around the country, Knight had a natural reaction. “I feel I could have done better due to being nervous,” he said.
But even as he battled an expected case of nerves, Knight still managed to finish third in a very competitive group of incoming seventh graders. “I like that I placed in the Top 3,” he said. “It boosted my confidence heading into the season and it showed me I can be even better when I perform at my best.”
An honor roll student at John Long Middle School in Wesley Chapel, Fla., Knight played QB for the South Pasco Predators this season. While helping his team to a 6-2 record, he passed and ran for roughly 1,000 yards.
Reaching the regional championship was a big goal heading into the season, and Knight and the Predators reached that goal.
Knight has played quarterback for four years, and there is little doubt he’s found a home at the key position. “I am very vocal and I like to be the leader of my team,” he said. “You get to lead the team and you control the ball every play. You also get to serve your teammates the most.”
For as good as he was this season – starting with the strong showing at the Duel – Knight knows he has more work to do. “I’m working to improve my skills on reading the defense when the ball is snapped and finding the open receiver,” he said. “I’m also working on getting my arm to 90 degrees during the J-path and setting the lead foot hallway.”
Training with QBA has helped accelerate Knight’s already impressive development. He’s worked with QBA for two years, and qualified for the Duel in Orlando. “Training with QBA, I learned the proper footwork, throwing mechanics and learned the basics of reading a defense,” Knight said. “I have also started to implement the R4 system.”
Performing so well in school has helped Knight perform at a high level on the football field. “School teaches you how to handle problem solving and what to do during adversity,” he said.
Colin Dunmore likes to compete at more than just football.
The fifth grader is a member of the Chess club at J.J. Finley Elementary School in Gainesville, Fla., and he uses his board skills on the football field.
“Playing quarterback, it feels like a chess match,” Dunmore said. As for opposing football defenses, “I like to try to pick them apart like I do during a chess match.”
Playing QB for the 10u Buffalo Stampeders in Villages, Fla., this season, Dunmore guided his team to an undefeated regular season, which ended with a loss in the first round of the playoffs. “I was happiest joining the team this year and working hard to go from only one win the previous year to an undefeated season this year,” he said. “Personally, I was happiest with the accuracy and consistency of my passes.”
While keeping his focus on the Stampeders’ overall performance, Dunmore averaged 2 touchdown passes per game. “The goal was to be the best quarterback in the conference by completing more passes than anyone else,” he said. “I also wanted to develop the ability to read defenses better than any other QB in the league.”
Aided by his strong chess prowess, Dunmore met those goals in his fifth overall season as a quarterback. “What I like most about playing QB is being the leader on the field and being able to control the game with my ability to throw the ball,” he said. “Throwing the ball is really exciting for me.”
Reading defenses and making accurate throws are already a strong part of Dunmore’s game. “I’m working to improve my speed,” he said. “I also want to get better at tucking the ball away and running in certain situations.”
Dunmore is still a young QB, but he already has an impressive track record and is sure to shore up any shortcomings moving forward.
Training with QBA the last three years has aided Dunmore’s early success. “QBA has helped me to improve my throwing mechanics,” he said. “They’ve also helped me complete passes under pressure.”
Earlier this year, Dunmore received his first Duel invitation after attending a QBA camp in Orlando. He finished fourth at the showcase event held in Atlanta.
“I was very proud of my success at the Duel,” Dunmore said. “It really boosted my confidence for this season.”
“Casey” (Donald) Case is hard to miss on the football field. Although he is only a sophomore at The First Academy in Orlando, Fla, Case already stands 6-foot-5.
“As a quarterback, I’d say my strengths would have to be my arm strength and my size,” he said.
The arm strength was on display at the Duel in July. After receiving his invite at a QBA camp in Orlando, Case placed fifth while competing against a strong group of incoming high school sophomores.
“I feel like my hard work leading up to the competition paid off,” he said. “For sure, doing well at the Duel gave me more confidence in my arm and more assurance that I can make those tough throws under pressure.”
Case was the backup varsity quarterback at The First Academy this season. The Royals rolled through the regular season with a 9-0 record before falling in the playoffs.
“I’m proud to say I was a part of a team that went undefeated in the regular season,” he said. “As the backup varsity QB, I was happy to help out where needed, and to support my team in any way that supported our ability to win the game. Heading into the season, my goals were to become a better leader and to hone my craft as a QB.”
Case has been playing quarterback for seven years. “I really like the leadership role I am put in and the constant need to get better for my team,” he said.
Case has gotten progressively better at quarterback, and he has been training with The Quarterback Academy for three years. “QBA assessed me and gave me solid advice that I could use to better my game,” Case said. “They have helped me to understand the areas that I need to improve in to accomplish my goals.”
While he has the arm to match his size, Case is continuing to work on his game. “A weakness would be my speed,” he said. “I need to get faster and work on my agility.”
There is no doubt Case will spend the time to continue his already impressive development. In addition to his football talent, he’s an honor roll student at The First Academy.
“School helps me with critical thinking, and gives me the discipline to succeed,” Case said.
Alex Muse just wanted a chance. He wanted to play quarterback.
With his path blocked at Port Charlotte (Fla.) High School, Muse transferred to rival Charlotte H.S. over the summer and got an opportunity. He’s made the most of it.
“This season has been really tough from the start,” Muse said. “I transferred halfway through summer and came in behind a senior starter and another junior that had been practicing. I just came in trying to outwork them. We went to the USF 7-on-7 camp and I had a phenomenal weekend and really showed myself as a starter. I started out the season pretty rough but slowly pulled things together.”
While helping the Fighting Tarpons to a 5-4 record, the junior QB had over 1,200 yards of total offense with 7 passing touchdowns and 8 rushing TDs.
“I just feel like everything is starting to come together,” Muse said. “Everything I’ve put into it is starting to come through. I knew it would happen eventually, but it’s pretty awesome to actually have it happen.”
The highlight of the season for Muse was Charlotte’s 24-21 win over Port Charlotte in late October. With the game tied at 21 and 1.6 seconds remaining in regulation, Muse completed a 49-yard pass to set up the game-winning field goal. He passed for 141 yards in the game and also ran for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns.
“It was a crazy game,” Muse said. “I definitely had a point to prove.”
Before proving he could be an impact QB at the varsity level, Muse put the work in to make it happen. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, he is a physical force that can do damage passing or running.
“I feel like the advantage I have comes from all of the work I’ve done in the weight room,” Muse said. “I’m one of the strongest kids on the team and I really worked hard to have the size I have. It’s pretty cool when it shows.”
Muse is 16 years old, and he’s been playing quarterback since he was eight. “Half my life,” he said with a laugh. “Whenever you’re able to lead a team and make other people better, that’s really why I do it. I want to make my family better.”
Muse has become a better quarterback since he started training with the Quarterback Academy two years ago. “They definitely helped me, especially on the mental side,” he said. “They teach you how to get things done. And using the R4 system, I incorporated that into my reads and I’ve seen a big change with that.”
Receiving his first Duel invite this year, Muse headed to Atlanta for QBA’s showcase event in July and placed fifth among incoming juniors. “Going into the Duel, I was hoping to make the Top 5,” he said. “The long ball, I can throw a ball 60 yards, but two times I didn’t go conservative and I threw it out of the lines. That really messed me up. But there were definitely some really good quarterbacks there, some really accurate kids. I was pretty happy when I got put in the final competition.”
Michael Kern is on a serious roll. No matter what time of the year it is, he always seems to be having success as a quarterback.
In July, Kern was back at the Duel and he finished first among incoming sophomores. He has now finished first in his age group three straight years at NFA’s premier competition.
“On one end, you go into it having some confidence, ‘OK I know I can do this from past experience,’” Kern said. “On the other hand, I have to try to do the best I can to do that again. You know the guys coming in are great quarterbacks that have great arms and great minds. It’s quite a competition, and wanting to keep the streak going can give you some nerves heading into it.”
As usual, Kern proved to be a steady hand at the Duel, and he came out on top. But while he is as intense of a competitor as you’ll find, winning the Duel wasn’t Kern’s one and only goal.
“Just being able to go up there to the Duel and compete with everyone, it’s such a great experience that I look forward to,” Kern said. “Being able to win it, that obviously can enhance the enjoyment. But being able to go out there with the guys and see them all throw and build relationships there, it’s really fun. Win or lose, it’s just a fun competition that I look forward to every year. It’s a good time.”
Heading into his fall football season at Lake Nona High School in Orlando, Fla., the 16-year-old QB continues having spectacular success. While helping the Lions roll out to a 3-0 start, Kern has completed 74 of 113 passes (65 percent) for 1,116 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception and has also rushed for a TD.
“I’m really excited being with all the guys I’m out there playing with,” Kern said. “The whole goal for us is to prepare for varsity and be ready. The stats are fun to count and look back at, but every rep, I’m kind of taking it as preparing myself for varsity, when it really matters. The guys I’m out there with, I keep relaying that message to them and they’re really getting it. The guys I’m growing up with and I’m going to be with on varsity, we’re building that connection now. We’re all just getting that mindset of we’re getting ready to go to the big show, let’s be ready. So every rep, we kind of have that mentality rather than, ‘Let’s try to do good for ourselves.’ We’re trying to get that team mentality and get ready to win some ballgames up on the varsity level.”
With the upbeat Kern in the program, the Lake Nona varsity football team has an extremely bright future. The 6-foot, 150-pounder got an early feel for what’s to come when he played in a varsity scrimmage before the season.
“Just to get in, I was very excited,” Kern said. “It’s kind of funny, I only got in for two drives but just being able to be in the game and see the change of pace, it was awesome. I was so excited when they told me I was going in. There were nerves, but at the same time I was very excited to see how it is, how it goes. I think it was good to get a lot of the jitters out. Going into next year, I should be ready just because I had a taste of it.”
The success started in July, when Noah Gillon attended his first Duel and finished second among incoming fifth graders. He’s continued to ride the impressive wave into September.
Playing football in his hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi, Gillon has helped the Eagles roar out to a 3-0 start. “I am most excited that we are 3-0,” the 10-year-old quarterback said. “Each week I gain more confidence and look to get better. Our team goal is to win the Super Bowl. We won it last year and want to win again. My personal goals are to get to know my teammates better, to improve my throwing accuracy, to get stronger and to learn how to read more defenses. ”
That is an extensive to-do list, but Gillon knows how to get things accomplished on the football field. While guiding the Eagles to lofty heights last season, he passed for 850 yards and 15 touchdowns in just eight games and also rushed for 660 yards and 11 more scores.
Through three games this season, Gillon has connected on 24 of 33 passes for 338 yards and 6 TDs while running for 102 yards and 2 scores. He’s also caught a 64-yard touchdown pass.
Home at QB
Gillon has already established himself as a player that can excel at multiple positions, but he is most comfortable at quarterback. “I’ve been playing tackle football for four years and I’ve been playing quarterback for three years,” he said. “I love playing QB because you get to control the offense and I am involved in every play.”
Gillon seems to get better with each play. “I think my strengths are throwing the short pass accurately, and I’m calm under pressure,” he said.
Even though he’s had so much early success, Gillon isn’t satisfied. “This year, I am working on my footwork,” he said. “I’m also trying to get better at throwing the deep ball, reading defenses, and I’m working to get stronger.”
Gillon has been attending NFA camps for three years, and he credits the training for allowing him to grow as a quarterback. “NFA has helped me a lot,” Gillon said. “They’ve helped me with play fakes, my footwork in the pocket, throwing mechanics, gap escapes, throwing accuracy and much more.”
All of those skills were put to the test when Gillon headed to the Duel. An obvious competitor, he traveled to Massillon, Ohio with one thing on his mind.
“My goal heading into the Duel was to win and do my best,” Gillon said. “Honestly, I wanted to do better. But I enjoyed the chance to compete with kids my age from all over the USA.”
Almost winning still sent Gillon into his current season on a high note. “The Duel gave me confidence and made me feel like I could go home and compete,” he said. “I would like to thank NFA and Coach (Darin) Slack for teaching me how to be a good leader on and off the field.”
Bryson Martin started playing football when he was 5 years old. He played quarterback.
Seven years later, Martin is still playing football. And the 12-year-old seventh grader from Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Tampa, Fla., is still playing the same position.
“My first season playing football, they put me at quarterback,” Martin said. “I liked it right away and I kind of just stuck with it. As I kept playing and I learned more about the position, I liked playing quarterback even more.”
As he’s continued to learn, Martin has continued to make impressive strides under center. “What I really like about playing quarterback is you get to lead the team and you can take control of the offense,” he said.
Playing for the Westchase Colts in the TBYFL (Tampa Bay Youth Football League), Martin has helped his team get off to a perfect 5-0 start this season. Splitting time at QB, he threw 4 touchdown passes in the first 5 games.
“I’m really happy with the way the season is going,” Martin said. “Our team is having a lot of fun and we have a lot of chemistry. Last year, we played together and we all get along and play as a team.”
Martin primarily passes when he is on the field, and that’s a big reason why the Colts are off to such a promising start.
“As a quarterback, I think I have throwing power and I also have the ability to throw the ball on the run,” Martin said. “I’m working on my accuracy and staying in the pocket more.”
To contine strengthening his strong points and improve his shortcomings, Martin’s been training with NFA the past two years. “(Coach) Darin Slack’s speeches have really helped me,” he said. “NFA has helped me with my mechanics. And learing the R4 system has been really good.”
Martin was invited to the Duel in the summer of 2015, and he placed sixth in his age group. “I really enjoyed the first one, but I didn’t do as well as I wanted to in the Gauntlet,” he said.
This past summer, Martin returned to the Duel and placed in the Top 5 among incoming seventh graders. “That was my goal, and I was really happy,” he said.
Performing so well in NFA’s showcase event gave Martin an added boost heading into his season with Westchase.
“It made me think about what my future can be as a quarterback,” he said. “It’s good to see all the other kids that go to the Duel, see how they’re doing. We’re the same age and it’s a really good competition. To go to the Duel and do well, it helps build your confidence.”