Jacob Braswell has Big Sophomore Season at Fuquay-Varina

Looking for a shot of confidence heading into his sophomore season, Jacob Braswell got one at the Duel.
After qualifying for NFA’s international quarterback competition at an immersion camp in Charlotte, Braswell finished in fifth place in his first trip to the Duel.

“I was a little nervous,” he said. “On the first day, I didn’t really do very well. But on the second day, I came out and hit almost every target. It really did boost my confidence. It was a great learning experience. It showed me that I have some stuff to work on, but it also showed me I can hang in there with some good quarterbacks. I hope to be invited again next year and come out No. 1.”

Moving from the Duel into his season at Fuquay-Varina High School in North Carolina, Braswell was the starting JV quarterback and he led the Bengals to a 6-3 record.

“The losses were in the beginning of the season,” Braswell said. “At first, our team wasn’t really connected. It took a little bit of time and then we started rolling and the season ended up being pretty good.”

In addition to being the JV starter, Braswell was a backup quarterback on Fuquay-Varina’s varsity team. His goal is starting for the varsity as a junior.

In order to reach that goal, he is going to work on his throwing and the speed needed to operate the Bengals’ option offense. Braswell is also going to continue training with NFA.

“I started training with NFA last year, and there is an R4 camp coming up that I’ll be going to,” he said. “NFA has helped me to read defenses, which is something I was never really exposed to before. That really helped me throughout the season. I also have a better base and they helped me improve my overall throwing mechanics.”

Next season will be Braswell’s 10th playing quarterback, and he wants to continue making impressive strides in his game.

“I’m really happy with how I played this past season,” Braswell said. “Throughout the time I’ve been playing quarterback, I’ve never really been the full-time starter. This was the first year I actually played whole games instead of parts of games. It was really great. I got a chance to learn more than I ever did.”

Being under center for every snap this past season only strengthened Braswell’s love for playing QB. “I really like being able to be the leader and having people look up to me, and they know they can come to me and I can help them,” he said. “I like being able to take charge and help lead through any situation.”

Zach Lawrence Reflects on Long Successful Season

Most seventh grade football players are finished with the season in October, maybe early November.
Zach Lawrence isn’t most seventh grade football players.

In addition to playing quarterback for his school, the Mint Hill Miners, Lawrence was also the QB for the University City Golden Norsemen AAU team that made it to the North Carolina State Championship and the December nationals in Florida.

It was a long, productive season for the rising young quarterback. “My goal heading into the season was to take my teams as far as we could go and to make sure that I did my job to the best of my ability so that my teammates could do theirs,” Lawrence said.

Mission accomplished. The Miners and Golden Norsemen combined to go 11-7 as Lawrence passed for a whopping 2,064 yards and 27 touchdowns while converting 15 2-point conversions. He was selected North Carolina’s AAU Southeastern Conference Player of the Year.

“Individually, I am happy that I started as a seventh grader for my middle school team,” he said. “I’m also really happy I was able to beat out five other quarterbacks for the starting job on the Norseman AAU team. I am proud of my AAU team and I’m also proud of the great season we had for the Miners.”

Lawrence has already built up five years experience playing QB. “Playing the position, I like that the quarterback is in control of the offense and that it is up to them to help lead the team,” he said. “This season, I was really happy with my throwing accuracy, reading coverages and finding the holes in the defense. I’m working to improve my throwing distance with the high school football.”

Before his banner season, Lawrence gave a preview of what was to come with a third-place finish at the Duel among incoming seventh graders. He qualifed for the QB competition at an NFA camp in Charlotte.

“I am proud of myself for what I accomplished at the Duel, but I can definitely do better,” said Lawrence, who won the event before his sixth grade season. “But it did boost my confidence for the season and made me feel like I was ready for anything that the defense could throw at me.”

Training with NFA for five years has also helped Lawrence to flourish against opposing defenses. “NFA has helped me develop my footwork,” he said. “They’ve helped me with my throwing motion, my accuracy, reading the defense and pretty much everything else.”

A prolific student as well as QB, Lawrence has a 4.0 GPA at Mint Hill Middle School. “School helps me on the football field by allowing me to see the game through a logical perspective and to make good decisions,” he said.

SOCIAL MEDIA INFO:
Instagram: @ZachQBLawrence
Twitter: @ZachQBLawrence

Will Matejowsky a Big Success in First Season as Starting Varsity QB

All of the hard work paid off for Will Matejowsky this season.

A junior at Cary High School in North Carolina, one of his goals was winning the starting quarterback job with the varsity team, and Matejowsky did just that.

“I was really happy with how much I improved from my sophomore season on JV to my junior season leading the varsity team,” he said.

Matejowsky has been playing football for years, but he started focusing in on being a top-flight quarterback when as a freshman.

That’s when he started training with NFA. “They helped me improve my mechanics, release, footwork, reads, everything,” Matejowsky said.

After splitting time as the JV quarterback when he was a freshman, he worked hard to become the JV starter as a sophomore. This season, Matejowsky worked his way up to the varsity and had a standout season as the starting QB.

Completing 141 of 263 passes for 2,020 yards and 10 touchdowns, the 6-foot-5, 195-pounder ranked in the Top 10 among North Carolina Class 4A quarterbacks. Matejowsky also rushed for 221 yards and 6 TDs.

“As a quarterback, I really like being involved in every play and being a leader on the team,” he said. “As a team, I was happy about how much we improved from the previous year. It’s been a rebuilding effort and since this was our best season in a while, I was really happy.”

As he continues to work, look for Matejowsky to be an even better QB as a senior next year. The Imps, who went 4-7 this season, should also show improvement.

“I think my strengths at quarterback are my accuracy and fast release,” he said. “I’m working to improve my quickness, footwork and reading defenses better. I also want to be more efficient and make the right read every time. Take what the defense gives me.”

Before his junior season, Matejowsky earned his Duel invite at an NFA camp in Charlotte. He wound up placing second among incoming juniors.

“I felt like I did way better than I expected,” Matejowsky said. “It was great to compete against everyone at the Duel. It gave me a lot of confidence heading into the season because I showed myself that I can really compete with the best of the best.”

SOCIAL MEDIA INFO:
Twitter: @WMatejowsky18
Instagram: willmat_18

Jack Curtis Quickly Gets Back Up to Speed After Another Strong Duel Showing

Playing quarterback for the Jay M. Robinson Middle School Chargers last year, Jack Curtis sprained his shoulder in the first game and missed the rest of the eighth grade season.

He tried to make the best of a tough situation, not that it was easy. “Watching my team play and watching the guys I compete with, it was hard for me,” Curtis said. “I was really anxious to gert back. I was in the weight room a week after middle school ended and I was able to jump back in and put the pads on in early July.”

Despite the long layoff, it was back to business as usual for the talented young QB. As a freshman at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, N.C., Curtis played for the junior varsity team and dressed with the varsity in the playoffs.

“We shared reps throughout practice before the season started and then I was able to beat out a sophomore in the first couple of weeks to win the second-string job with the JV,” he said. “I played in four or five of the 11 games we played and I was very happy with how I played. As a team, we struggled a little bit in the beginning but toward the end of the season we really clutched up. It was great, the JV and varsity both won their conferences.”

Heading into his sophomore season with the Knights, Curtis is positioned to be the starting quarterback for the JV team. He already has his sights higher than that.

“My goal as a sophomore is to start for the JV and put on at least 10 pounds during the off-season,” Curtis said. “I also want to fight for the starting job with the varsity.”

Once again showing he has the talent to reach any goal he sets, Curtis competed in the Duel before the season after qualifying at the Charlotte OSD (link to Charlotte). Jack finished second in NFA’s annual quarterback competition. It was the third time he has finished second at the showcase event.

“I was very proud with how I competed at the Duel,” Curtis said. “During the preliminary, I missed one throw and I was kind of kicking myself about it. But I finished well in the final gauntlet and just missed finishing first. I thought I did very well.”

The well-rounded QB is entering his sixth year with NFA. “Training with NFA, it gets more and more advanced as you go through it and I can understand more as I go along,” Curtis said. “I’m reading ‘From Headset to Helmet’ (written by NFA coaches Dub Maddox and Darin Slack – link to Darin and Dub) right now. More and more of it makes sense to me as I gain more experience at quarterback at higher levels and can actually put it into context.”

SOCIAL MEDA INFO:
Twitter: @scurtis704

With Jason Ceniti at QB Madison Memorial High School Off to Flying Start

When asked for the individual goals he set for this season, Jason Ceniti responded with a lengthy pause.

There are only two goals he has in mind. “It’s more win, and really serve my team in any way I possibly can,” Ceniti said.

The junior quarterback at Madison Memorial High School in Wisconsin is off to a flying start on both fronts this season. While passing for 753 yards and 12 touchdowns, Ceniti has helped the Spartans get off to a 5-0 start.

“Coach (Michael) Harris said back when he first took the job that our first mission is becoming Big Eight Conference champions,” Ceniti said. “Our overall goal was to be the most respected and most improved team in the Big Eight. That’s still the mission, and it’s looking really good right now. If we achieve that mission, it sets us up for a good postseason. Instead of saying our goal is winning the state championship, we kind of bring it back and say, ‘Let’s win conference first.’ Once we achieve that, we can move on and pursue the postseason.”

Madison Memorial is well positioned to keep on winning with Ceniti under center.

This is the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder’s first full season as the varsity starter, but Ceniti gained plenty of needed experience as a sophomore last season after taking over as the Spartans’ QB in the third game.

“Looking back at sophomore year, there was a lot to learn,” he said. “I was grateful to be a part of it and have that opportunity because there aren’t that many sophomore that can say they’re a starting quarterback that made the All-City team and so on. To build on that experience, it’s playing a huge part this year.”

Training with QBA the past two years has also played a huge part in Ceniti’s success and development at quarterback. “I owe absolutely everything to QBA,” he said. “The most critical and most valuable things you take away from a QBA camp are the leadership talks that they have. The leadership talks have carried me through my career and through some tough situations.”

Invited to the Duel after attending a camp in Charlotte, Ceniti finished first among incoming juniors at the July showcase in Atlanta.

“I knew I was prepared,” he said. “It was a new experience and I just wanted to make the most of it. With what Coach (Darin) Slack and NFA have taught me, I didn’t really feel a lot of pressure going into it. I felt like it was a great opportunity to just go out there and simply do what I do. I thought it was going to be a lot of fun, but at the same time I just knew it was a business trip. I wasn’t going down there to have a good old time. I was thinking, ‘This is a competition. Let’s go take care of business.’”

SOCIAL MEDIA INFO:
Twitter: @JCeniti
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jason.ceniti

Duel Champ Zach Lawrence Brimming with Confidence

Heading into his football season with the Mint Hill Panthers in North Carolina, Zach Lawrence was understandably confident.

In July, the 5-foot-5, 120-pounder competed at the Duel and finished first among a talented pack of incoming sixth graders.

“Winning the Duel has made me a more humble person, not only in football, but in life,” Lawrence said. “It has boosted my confidence in all that I do. Winning the Duel also proved to me that I can set high goals for myself and achieve them.”

Lawrence qualified for the Duel last March during a camp at Rocky River High School in Charlotte, N.C.

“After the Duel, I knew that I could make all of my throws and my coaches also trusted me to make them, too,” he said.

Already in his fifth year of playing quarterback, Lawrence guided the Panthers to a 6-3 record. He passed for 1,037 yards and 15 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions. He also rushed for 53 yards and converted 2 extra points.

“I’m happy that I put my receivers in position to make plays and score touchdowns,” Lawrence said. “I’m also happy about how close our team was and how we were able to win games.”

With a perfect 4.0 grade point average, Lawrence is also winning in the classroom. “The discipline, problem solving skills and attention to detail in school are also traits that are applicable to quarterbacks,” he said.

Training with QBA for the past four years has helped Lawrence grow into one of the top sixth grade QBs in the nation. “QBA taught me everything about my throwing motion, my drops, all about reading coverages and the decision making process,” he said.

As his passing yardage from the season shows, Lawrence is already a gifted passer. “My strengths are throwing accuracy and ball placement,” he said. “Reading coverages, moving in the pocket, getting away from the rush, taking hits and never giving up. I like leading the team and running the offense. I also really enjoy throwing the ball.”

As his playing career progresses, Lawrence still sees some aspects of his game that can get better. “I’m working to improve my speed and to increase my throwing distance,” he said.

Injury Won’t Keep Jack Curtis Down for Long

Even though he’s an eighth grader, Jack Curtis has been playing football long enough to know injuries are a common part of the game.

That’s why Curtis is sure to come back with full force in 2018 after missing most of this season with a sprained AC shoulder joint. The injury happened in the first game with his new team, the Jay M. Robinson Middle School Chargers.

Curtis is close to being fully recovered now, and he’ll be 100 percent and ready to go next season. That’s how much he enjoys playing QB.

“Playing quarterback has been awesome,” said Curtis, who has been under center since he was 8 years old. “I get to play with my friends, new guys, and get to make new friends. It’s a lot of fun. And I really like it because of everything that’s involved. If the line doesn’t block, the backs and receivers can’t do anything. If the backs and receivers can’t do anything, you probably lose the game. Everybody has to work together and that makes it more interesting.”

Curtis was aiming to have the same success this season as he did playing for the South Charlotte (N.C.) Patriots, but his bright future remains.

Before the season, and before the shoulder injury, Curtis received a Duel invitation at a QBA Charlotte camp and he finished second among incoming eighth graders at QBA’s annual July international competition.

Two years ago, Curtis placed second among incoming sixth graders at the Duel. Last year, he failed to crack the Top 5.

“Last year (2016), I’m not going to lie, I coasted through a little bit because I thought it was going to be like the year before,” Curtis admitted. “Instead of training for two months like I did the year before, I probably trained for two weeks. So I used my failure from last year to help me this year. This year, I started doing workouts and started throwing almost every day about two and a half months before the Duel, and all the work really paid off. I wanted to prove some things to myself and finishing second at the Duel helped me do that.”

Curtis has been training with QBA for four years. Combined with his success in the classroom, it’s no wonder he’s been a big success as a young QB.

“I like to try to be the smartest guy on the field,” the straight-A student said. “If you can be the smartest guy on the field at all times, you’re going to have a distinct advantage. That’s how I motivate myself to do well in school.”

Braden Atkinson’s Success Doesn’t Stop with First-Place Duel Finish

Atkinson made the most of the present, winning the fourth/fifth grader portion of the Duel at Atlanta in July. “I think it was really cool,” he said. “There aren’t really any other competitions like it for younger players. In my class, there were 15 other really talented QBs from across the country. It was great to meet and get to know them, and see how I stacked up.”

As he prepared for his season playing quarterback for the Wake Forest Titans JPW Storm in North Carolina, Atkinson was ready to roll.

“During the season it is about the team,” he said. “The Duel is just about me and how good I am at what I do. It’s one thing to be a top QB in your area, but to compete against the best QBs from across the nation validates all the hard work and time I put in for the sport I love the most.”

With Atkinson under center, the Titans posted an 8-2 record and were 13-0 winners in the Triangle Classic Bowl. “For the team, I was happiest about winning the bowl game and ending the season 8-2,” he said. “My team worked so hard this season and it was great to be able to celebrate all we had accomplished with a bowl win.”

In 9 games at quarterback, Atkinson connected on 63 of 101 passes for 877 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also ran for a TD and caught a scoring pass.

Capping a banner season, Atkinson was selected to play in the Turkey Bowl, Nov. 24-25 in Clayton, N.C.

Before taking the field, Atkinson wanted to improve as a QB, a teammate and a leader. “I am always working to improve in all areas,” he said. “That’s one of the things I liked most about the QBA camp; it addressed all areas of the game including skills, reads, leadership, nutrition, and social media.”

Atkinson is equally successful in the classroom, and the fifth grader at Heritage Elementary School has been recognized as a Pop Warner Little Scholar, which recognizes student/athletes with report card averages of at least 96 percent from all four quarters of the previous school year.

“School helps my mind stay sharp on the field,” he said. “Also, it’s learning to manage my time so that I get all my work and studying done. That helps me stay organized in football with equipment, practice and games.”

Atkinson is still a very young quarterback, but he is already off to an impressive start. “What I like about the QB position is the strategy that is involved,” he said. “Knowing the plays, the counts, the check downs, where the defense is, how much spin/arc to put on the ball. And working with QBA has motivated me to keep competing at a higher level. One of my favorite quotes is, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”

Aliam Appler Meets Big Goals with Undefeated Noble Eagles

Heading into the season, Aliam Appler set a two-pronged goal.

“I wanted to earn the starting quarterback job as a seventh grader,” he said. “It was the first year I was eligible to play middle school football and I wanted to prove that I was good enough to start. I also wanted to help my team win and become County champs!”

Mission accomplished, on both fronts.

A seventh grader at MCS Noble Middle School in Wilmington, N.C., Appler was the Eagles’ starting quarterback this year, and he had a phenomenal season. While guiding Noble to a perfect 7-0 record, Appler completed 26 of 51 passes for 539 yards and 9 touchdowns and a 2-point conversion.

Unbeaten Noble was the 2017 New Hanover County Middle School champions for the first time since 2012.

“I was happiest with how hard we fought all season to be undefeated and to be a part of such a great team,” said Appler, a 5-foot-11, 140-pounder. “Our running back, Xavier Terrell, is one of the best I have ever seen. Personally, I am happy and thankful that my coach, Joe Solomon, believed in me and allowed me to achieve my goal of starting as a seventh grade QB in my first year playing middle school football.”

A straight-A student at Noble while taking accelerated math, Appler is getting it done on and off the field. “I really want to play football in college and I know I need to work hard in school to get there,” he said. “Football helps me in school, too. I have to work on my own, off-season and outside of practice, to be good. I try to put the same effort into my homework outside of school.”

All of the hard work is paying off for Appler, who has been playing quarterback for seven years. “It’s a fun position to play,” he said. “I love throwing for touchdowns. It doesn’t affect the way I play, but I love to hear the crowd cheer when I throw a good pass.”

As he’s moved into middle school football, Appler has shown consistent growth. “I am always working to improve my throwing mechanics and recognizing different coverages,” he said. “I can throw the ball accurately and far. I can also read the defense before the snap, know the routes that should be open and find the open receiver. I need to work on my quickness when running the football.”

Appler has been training with QBA for seven years, which has bolstered his development. “QBA taught me my mechanics and continues to help me fix and improve them as I grow,” he said. “They taught me how to throw better passes. They’ve also helped me be a better teammate and leader on my team, teaching me to build the other players up and work hard to serve them.”

At a QBA camp in Charlotte this year, Appler received his Duel invitation. He finished fourth among incoming seventh graders.

“I’m happy that I finished in the Top 5 but disappointed in myself, because I know I can do better,” Appler said. “But I got Top 5 in the nation, so I am confident that I am a good quarterback. My confidence would have been boosted more if I got first, but there is always next year.”

Appler already has his eyes on the future. “Football season is over, but I can’t wait to get to work preparing for 2018,” he said. “I will probably run track this year and play baseball in the spring. I work on football all year long. I am looking forward to attending QBA camps and hopefully the Duel, as well as some college football camps this summer.”

Alex Flinn a True Leader at AC Reynolds High School

Alex Flinn perfectly embodies what NFA is all about.

Instead of turning the spotlight on himself and his dynamic junior season at AC Reynolds High School in Asheville, N.C., Flinn passes the credit around as well as he passes the football.

“Heading into the season, my goal was to earn a third consecutive conference championship and make a run for the state championship with my team,” he said. “I am happiest about how we have all come together as a team and worked hard to get where we are. We earned our third consecutive outright conference championship and I am happy that I have become one of our team leaders and how my touchdown to interception ratio is low.”

With Flinn under center, the Rockets went 10-1 during the regular season and won the Western Mountain Athletic Conference with a perfect 8-0 record.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound QB completed 190 of 260 pass attempts (73.1 percent) for 2,649 yards and 32 touchdowns (only 4 interceptions). He also rushed for 215 yards on 55 carries and scored 5 TDS. Flinn had a prolific 142 QB rating heading into the playoffs.

“I am continually working on my completion rate, footwork and leading my team,” he said. “I believe that I am an accurate passer, controlling the field on offense, beating the blitz and reading defenses.”

Flinn is still working on his speed and escaping the pocket, but the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder is an obvious next level talent. Flinn has already visited North Carolina State and has an invite to Vanderbilt’s camp this summer. He has also been invited to the U.S. Army All-American Combine for next year’s All-American Bowl in Texas.

Earlier this year, Flinn received his first Duel invite at a QBA camp in Charlotte. He traveled to Atlanta in July for the showcase competition and finished first against incoming juniors.

“I feel that it reflects how hard I worked over the off-season and how I have gotten a lot better because of my teammates and coaches,” Flinn said. “It is truly an awesome feeling. It definitely did boost my confidence, and I was able to become the starting quarterback (at AC Reynolds), which allowed our more versatile QB to work as a wide receiver and get the ball into his hands more often. Also, it showed me that I was a good QB and, in turn, allowed me to lead my team with that new confidence.”

Flinn has been training with the Quarterback Academy since he was 11 years old. “QBA has taught me that it is not about me and everything is for the team,” he said. “QBA is also where I received my current mechanics and has helped a lot to get me to where I am now. I want to thank QBA and all of the coaches that have helped me along the way. They have been a huge part of my success and I honestly would never have gotten this far without their help.”

Aliam Appler Working Hard to Achieve Lofty Goals

After winning the Duel in July of 2015, Aliam Appler got another invite to NFA’s showcase competition this past summer and he placed fourth among incoming sixth graders.

That just shows you how many talented young quarterbacks travel to the Duel in Massillon, Ohio, from across the United States and Canada. “Honestly, I wanted to win, but I knew from last year there are lot of awesome quarterbacks from all over the country, many of who I now call friends,” Appler said. “I was disappointed because I didn’t win, but I placed well. I could have done better but I am happy that I was in the Top 5, that’s very hard to do.”

He is right. Finishing in the Top 5 at the Duel is an accomplishment to be proud of, and most quarterbacks are able to carry the success into their seasons.

Successful season

Appler did just that, leading the Coastal Cowboys to a 5-2 record in Wilmington, N.C. “I really wanted to make the Pop Warner Super Bowl this year, but half of my old team stayed down at Junior Pee Wee,” he said. “My team didn’t make the playoffs because the Wilmington Eagles, our crosstown rivals, beat us twice and made it to the Super Bowl at Disney. But I was really happy with my dad (Shaun) being able to coach me for my last season in Pop Warner and the amazing job my receivers did catching my passes.”
Displaying the same skills that helped him perform so well at the past two Duels, Appler completed 77 of 105 passes for 843 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also rushed 21 times for 107 yards and 4 TDs and also caught 2 passes for 76 yards and 2 scores.

Playing quarterback for the past six seasons, Appler continues to make impressive progress. “I like to throw the ball and give my team a chance to win games,” he said. “I can throw the ball on target, especially on timing routes. I read the defense pre-snap like Coach (Darin) Slack and NFA teaches. I release the ball within 3 seconds most of the time and I don’t mind getting hit and enjoy running my fakes so the defense is forced to account for me, too.”

For as good as he’s been as a young QB, Appler is striving to become even better. “I still need to work on my foot speed,” he said. “I am happy with the few rushes I had this year and my ‘juking,’ but I still need to work harder.”

Hard work paying off

Appler is always working on his game, and he’s been training with NFA for six years. “NFA is the reason I can do this well,” Appler said. “They taught me if I want to be the one percent I always have to work. ‘Others may, I may not.’ It’s hard sometimes, but I love my coaches and putting in the work. I love working out, even when my friends are skateboarding or surfing. I have to do my ladders and hurdles because I want to be the best.

“I play catch with my dad every day, even those days that he works nights. He’s a police officer and he is tired, but we go out and I throw the football to him. We know that it takes work.”

With his sixth grade season in the books, Appler has set his sights on next year. “I served as the manager for the Noble Middle School Eagles this season,” he said. “My goal is to start for them as a seventh grader, but I know that I will have to earn it. I plan to put in my time with NFA this off-season and earn my way to the Duel again this year and do well against the seventh graders.”

Brooks Arant’s Growth at Quarterback is Right on Target

The South Charlotte Patriots and NFA continue to making impressvie strides together.

In 2015, South Charlotte quarterback Jack Curtis received an invitation to the Duel and he placed second among incoming sixth graders.

This past summer, another Patriots product stepped up at NFA’s showcase competition in Massillon, Ohio. Brooks Arant, a fifth grader out of Marvin Elementary School in North Carolina, finished fourth in his Duel debut.

“It was my first time so I really wanted to just stay calm, learn and do my best,” Arant said. “Of course, I also hoped to make the Gauntlet.”

He accomplished that goal, and while slipping from third place to fourth during the most grueling test at the Duel, Arant learned a lot about himself and quickly established a future ambition.

Confidence boost

“I was very happy to make the Gauntlet my first season and it gave me a lot of confidence,” he said. “I was a little disappointed at how I performed in that part of it, but it gives me goals for next year if I’m lucky enough to compete again.”

Given the impressive skill he’s already shown, odds are very good Arant will be back at the Duel for years to come.

This season, he guided South Charlotte to a 5-4 record which was capped by a Patriot Bowl win. Arant missed two games due to injury, both which ended in losses.

The season as a whole was anything but a loss. “I was happiest with having a winning season and learning to become a leader on a new team with players that I did not know,” he said. “The goal was to have a winning record and win a bowl game, and we accomplished that.”

Arant completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for the Patriots. He threw for 5 touchdowns, ran for another score and did not turn the football over. “My personal goals for the season were to limit turnovers, learn new plays and be successful with my teammates,” he said.

Home at QB

Playing football since the first grade – and tackle the last two years – Arant has played multiple positions. As his showing in the Duel clearly indicates, he’s found a home at quarterback.

“I like the opportunity to be involved in every offensive play and to be in a leadership role,” Arant said. “I also like to have a lot of chances to make plays.”

Consistently connecting with his receivers at such a young age is already a strong point of his game. “I am an accurate passer for my age at short and intermediate routes, and I throw good spirals,” Arant said. “I am also a good runner and am able to pick up new plays quickly.”

Even with all of the early success, Arant is working to take his game to an even higher level. “I would like to improve my arm strength and accuracy on longer throws and continue to improve my leadership skills,” he said.

Training with NFA the past year has helped Arant fortify his strengths and improve any shortcomings.
“The NFA camps and drills are great to improve throwing mechanics,” he said. “Additionally, the NFA coaches are great at teaching players how to be leaders.”