Next year, Vincent Cajano will be a freshman at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. It is the ideal landing spot for the rising young quarterback.
In early December, the Dutchmen crushed South Shore H.S. 34-7 at Yankee Stadium to win the PSAL City Conference championship game, capping an 11-1 season.
A powerhouse program in NYC, Erasmus Hall has to be happy that Cajano is getting closer to joining the roster. He worked out with the varsity as an eighth grader this season and odds are, he’ll be making an impact for the Dutchmen in the coming years.
“I have been playing quarterback since before I could remember,” he said. “The one thing I like about the quarterback position is that I have all the pressure and it’s all on me. I love that.”
Performing under pressure is not an easy task, but Cajano has been getting the job done since he started playing football at the flag level. In limited play this season, he completed 16 of 20 passes for over 300 yards and 5 touchdowns.
“My goal from the start of this year was to do my best ever,” Cajano said. “My strengths as a quarterback are I can see the field and make every throw, but I would like to break out a 60-yard run, not just a 20-yard run. I am working on improving getting my lower body and my core more into my throw, and I’m also working on getting faster.”
Cajano has been training with NFA for six years, which has helped him develop his throwing and running skills. “Before I came to NFA, I didn’t know anything,” he said. “Now I have so much knowledge as a quarterback on the field and off. I’ve really learned how to throw the football and I am still learning better ways to throw.”
The passing skills were on display again at the Duel in July. After receiving an invite to NFA’s showcase competition in Seattle, Cajano finished second among incoming eighth graders.
Before his sixth grade season, he won the Duel, and Cajano placed third before his seventh grade season. “I feel good about my success at the Duel this year,” he said. “I used it as a learning experience because I feel I should have done better. The Duel always boosts my confidence going into the season because it gives me belief in myself and holds me to a higher standard.”
In his final year at I.S. 201 Dyker Heights Intermediate School, Cajano is continuing to make the grade in the classroom. “Being an honor roll student helps me on the football field,” he said. “It helps me understand the many different things that happen before and during plays and that allows me to react and make my team better.”
SOCIAL MEDIA INFO:
A seventh grader at I.S. 201 Dyker Heights Intermediate School in New York City, Vincent Cajano III is on the Principal’s List, which is reserved for students with an average score of 95 and above.
He is a solid performer in the classroom, and Cajano is equally adept on the football field. “School helps me in many different aspects of football, and it helps me understand the game as a whole,” he said. “It helps me break down and decipher different defenses. I’m very focused in school and on the football field.”
The focus under center was evident this season. While quarterbacking the Seminoles to a 6-4 record in the competitive Staten Island Boys Football League, Cajano completed 52 of 95 passes (55 percent) for 1,292 yards. He had 23 touchdown passes and only 5 interceptions.
“I had a great season all around with my new teammates,” Cajano said. “As a new team, I am happy with how we had both a respectable running game and a very good passing game with great wide receivers, a great running back, fullback and offensive line.”
This is the second season Cajano has quarterbacked the Seminoles. “I’m happiest with how if I was pressured, I was able to get away and could hit my receivers anywhere they were on the football field,” he said. “My strength as a QB is in the pocket, slinging the football and escaping the pocket pressure. I like the intensity and the role that I have as a QB, and I love learning more and picking apart defenses. When I’m on the run, I feel I could do better. I’m going to work on my athleticism to be more of a dual threat.”
Cajano has been putting in the work with QBA for five years, and it’s paid off big time. “The Quarterback Academy has helped me in every aspect of being a QB, from passing mechanics to handing off the football to reading defenses,” he said.
After winning the Duel before his sixth grade season, Cajano received an invite to this year’s QBA showcase competition at a camp in Orlando. He finished third among incoming seventh graders.
“At this year’s Duel, I feel I could have done better on some passes but overall I did my best and had a fun time,” Cajano said. “The Duel definitely boosted my confidence for this football season because it showed I could hang with the best and throw the football to any window.”
For a sixth grade quarterback, Shaker Reisig has already compiled quite a resume.
In 2016, he won his first trip to the Duel Quarterback Competition and went on to have a standout season with the Rush-Henrietta Junior Comets in the Rochester (N.Y.) Youth Football League.
This year, Reisig received another Duel invitation, and he finished second among incoming sixth graders at Quarterback Academy’s international competition in Atlanta. “I feel that second place is great, but I could have done better on hitting the targets,” he said. “But getting into the Top 5 in the Duel, just making it into the Duel, boosted my confidence going into the season.”
This season, Reisig is playing for the Ogden Bears, and he quarterbacked his team to an 8-0 record and spot in the regional playoffs. “We have the opportunity to go to Disney for the finals,” Reisig said. “My goal heading into the season was to become a leader on a new team, a team that I have never played with before. I am happy about going undefeated and personally, I’m happy with throwing 3 touchdown passes. We are mainly a ground game team.”
As a sixth grader at Cal-Mum Elementary School in New York, Reisig has also distinguished himself in the classroom. He’s an honor roll student.
“Some mornings before I go to school, my dad (Aron) reminds me to pay attention in school,” Reisig said. “He tells me school is my football practice. I have to do a lot of studying and school work outside of school to stay on the honor roll. I also do a lot of quarterback training when the football season is over to make sure I am well prepared for when the season comes. Extra training and school doesn’t give me a lot of free time with friends and other activities, but I am starting to see it pay off and it is well worth the effort.”
Training with QBA the last two years has also paid off for Reisig, who is wrapping up his sixth season as a Quarterback.
“This year, I went to Quarterback Academy events in Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, New England and the Duel in Georgia,” said Reisig, who received his Duel invite at a Phoenix camp. “I look forward to starting again. NFA has taught me a higher level of QB mechanics and off the field training. My local quarterback coach and I are on the same page with QBA procedures. I love going to QBA events, and all the coaches I have dealt with are great.
“I would like to give special thanks to Coach JC Boice for all the help and encouragement I receive when I am at one of his camps,” Reisig added. “I would also like to thank Coach Jonny Ulibarri for working with me before the Jenks (Okla.) camp. He is great to work with and very patient.”
While he has accomplished so much so soon, Reisig knows there is still plenty of room to improve. “I can accurately throw about 30 yards and with fast receivers, that makes it fun,” he said. “I am working on having my front foot planted before I break and start the J-path motion. And I’m working to stop getting down on myself after a bad play. I am learning to let things go and focus on the plays ahead to keep things going positively.”
Invited to his first Duel in July, Kai Colon wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he arrived at Whitewater High School on the outskirts of Atlanta.
“I just wanted to get experience, since it was my first one,” Colon said. “But I also wanted to do well, because everyone does.”
Mission accomplished, on both fronts. Competing against incoming eighth graders in QBA’s annual showcase event, Colon finished fifth.
“I was very happy when they called my name for fifth place,” he said. “I was just happy I got to compete in the last gauntlet. Doing well, it raised my confidence a lot. But I still have to stay humble and not think too much about it. Just keep going and keep working hard.”
All of the hard work has already been paying off for Colon, even before his Duel debut.
Last season, the Slate Hill, N.Y., resident started at quarterback for the Minisink Valley Warriors A team as a seventh grader. Playing with a roster full of eighth and ninth graders, Colon passed for over 800 yards with 9 touchdowns and also rushed for another TD during the seven-game season.
“I thought I did well managing the game,” he said. “I don’t think I had any interceptions, which I was really happy about. Improving my speed was the one thing I wasn’t happy with, but I think the speed will come as I get older.”
As a sixth grader in 2015, Colon guided his Division 2 Minisink Valley Warriors team to a Super Bowl victory, rushing for 2 touchdowns, passing for another score and returning an interception for a TD.
This season, Colon played on the Minisink Valley High School JV team despite being an eighth grader. Splitting time with a sophomore QB, he completed 55 of 91 pass attempts (60 percent) for 923 yards and 11 touchdowns while throwing just 3 interceptions.
He also rushed for 179 yards and 1 TD.
Before the season, Colon was pumped for the big step up in class. “I’m pretty excited,” he said. “I’m the only eighth grader getting pulled up, so it’s pretty cool. I think I’ll do well.”
Already standing 6 feet tall and weighing 170 pounds, Colon has high school size. He’s also a standout student, posting a 98.0 GPA on a 100 scale in seventh grade accelerated classes while being selected to the prestigious Junior Leadership program. This year, he’s taking accelerated courses and his grades are again in the high 90s.
“I take a lot of pride in being a good student because I know a lot of colleges look at that,” Colon said. “I have great teachers and they’re always pushing me to get better. I study when I’m not on the field, pay attention in class and try to get my homework done as fast as possible. Doing well in school helps me playing football because I can read the defenses faster and think a lot quicker.”
In his first year of training with QBA, Colon has already seen positive results. “QBA has helped me a lot,” he said. “They helped my form, the path of my release. That’s really helped me make more accurate throws and allowed me to put more velocity on the ball.”