When he stepped under center in 2018, David Ternosky was uniquely prepared for his second season of tackle football.
Over the previous five years, he worked with Gladiator Sports Training under the guidance of coach Nick Bryant. Ternosky also took the time necessary to prepare for football season.
“Gladiator Sports was founded on the philosophy that a strong athletic foundation must be built before implementing too much game play,” he said. “That’s why I concentrated more on training and development at this young stage and less on accumulating any personal stats.”
The statistics will likely be very impressive in seasons to come, but Ternosky continues to build a strong base while developing into a solid QB.
“I train every day,” said Ternosky, who calls Uniontown, Ohio home. “I look forward to working with the NFA staff and coaches in 2020 and beyond.”
Working to improve his quarterback skills have reached beyond training with NFA.
“Over the past year, I learned to hit a baseball 260 feet and throw a baseball 64 miles per hour,” Ternosky said. “I trained my arm to throw a high school size football 30 yards and worked tirelessly at drills to try and perfect footwork both in the pocket and on the run.”
In addition to the massive amount of time he has put in with Gladiator Sports, Ternosky added even more knowledge and skill when he started training with NFA in 2018.
“NFA has made me a better quarterback by breaking down my throwing mechanics and footwork and giving me pointed direction in order to perfect it,” he said. “The basics of the R4 system have accelerated my learning of defenses and given me a better overall understanding of the position. The NFA coaching staff has really fueled my passion for football, and most importantly, NFA’s message of leadership traits, accountability and strong Christian beliefs have added the most to my ability to be a QB.”
Earning a Duel bid at a three-day camp in Charlotte, N.C. last March, Ternosky finished in second place among incoming fifth graders at NFA’s July showcase competition held in Nashville.
“It was a serious confidence boost for me, and it gave me a gauge as to where my training has me positioned within my age group,” said Ternosky, a Sraight-A student at Green Intermediate School. “I am sure my confidence will carry over to the upcoming football season but finishing second at the Duel leaves room for improvement and will act as an igniter to help get me better.”
Needless to say, Ternosky was looking forward to putting on the pads and getting on the field for the Bulldogs last season.
“I am going to strive to better my teammates and better my team with my efforts, on and off the field,” he said. “And of course, I want to move the chains.”
In the “Good Things Happen to Good People” department, Weston Conaway is the latest prime example.
A year ago, after leading Hebron (Texas) High School’s JV team to an undefeated season and district championship and moving up to the Hawks’ varsity roster for the playoffs, Conaway was doing weight training to prepare for his junior season.
He wound up suffering a serious back injury that required three surgeries to repair herniated and bulging disks. While dealing with agonizing pain and difficult sleeping over a four-month stretch, Conaway had plenty of time to think about his football future.
“I hurt my back, had three epidural surgeries and was out six months,” Conaway said. “It was a big challenge. It put me in a spot to decide what I really wanted to do. Did I want to be successful for the next season or not? I really challenged myself over the six months to get better as fast as I could and get stronger to prepare myself for the next year. I thought I did a really good job of doing that and recovered fairly fast from the injury I had. Of course, the experience wasn’t what I intended, but it really made me a better person in the long run.”
Once he was recovered, Conaway made the most of the late start preparing for his junior season with Hebron. He added 25 pounds to his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame and was feeling good enough to compete in the Duel – NFA’s showcase event – last July in Nashville.
Not only did Conaway compete, he finished first among incoming juniors. “The Duel gave me great confidence,” he said. “It made me feel amazing because it was the first event I participated in after the injury. It was a great thing to have going into the 2019 season. A lot of my coaches saw the Duel results on Twitter and it was awesome. I think it just showed a lot of people that after the injury, I could still make all the passes, I could still do everything.”
Conaway was the Hawks’ backup varsity QB as a junior last season, and his gifted passing ability helped Hebron advance to the third round of the Texas Class 6A playoffs.
When the Hawks needed a big play through the air, Hebron coach Brian Brazil went with the “Conaway Package,” which moved No. 1 quarterback Carson Harris to slot receiver.
As the upcoming season comes into view, Conaway is completely healthy and ready to take over as the Hawks’ starting quarterback and captain for his senior year.
“Everything is coming together and it’s looking awesome,” he said. “We’re all really looking forward to next season. We think we can make a good run and put together something special.”
In addition to playing for the Lone Star Generals, an elite 7-on-7 team, Conaway contines training with QB Collective. “They’ve helped me so much,” he said. “They’ve helped me mentally and they’ve helped me read defenses. Even after I got hurt, I had a couple of mechanical issues that they helped me correct.”
After overcoming so much adversity, Conaway is pumped up for his senior season. “I was a receiver when I started playing football and then I started playing quarterback in fifth grade,” he said. “I love to help people. Going through the off-season and working with all of our brothers, it’s just fun to go out on the field and be able to have control over the team you’ve worked with in the off-season.”
It would be accurate to say Peyton Rottinghaus had a big season.
Before suiting up for the Urbandale (Iowa) J-Hawks the eighth grader wanted to be an even more accurate passer than he was the year before, when he threw 4 interceptions quarterbacking the Johnston Dragons.
Rottinghaus accomplished that goal, completing 23 of 48 passes for 514 yards while connecting for 5 touchdowns. He also rushed for a TD and threw only 1 interception.
“Heading into the season, I wanted to help my team win and mentally, be as close to my teammates as I possibly could be,” Rottinghaus said. “I also wanted to reduce my interceptions, which I was able to do. I was also really pleased with how we bounced back during times of adversity.”
The J-Hawks finished the season with a 3-2 record.
When it was over, Rottinghaus reflected on his eighth year of playing QB. “It’s a challenging position and I like working with the many coaches to become not only a better quarterback, but a person as well,” he said. “I feel like I communicate well with my teammates and coaches well, and my preparation and studying game film has improved. I feel I need to continue to work on extending plays and buy more time to throw.”
Rottinghaus’ year-to-year improvement and impressive passing accuracy are reflections of his six years of training with NFA. “I have learned a lot training with NFA, I’ve learned what steps to take and how to take them,” he said. “Mentally, NFA’s helped me to help my teammates and also helped me outside of football, especially in school.”
After qualifying for the Duel at an NFA immersion camp in Phoenix, Rottinghaus placed third among incoming eighth graders at the international quarterback competition in Atlanta.
“I was pleased placing third,” he said. “It boosted my confidence heading into the season and gave me extra motivation. I hope to improve on the third-place finish in the future if I’m given the opportunity.”
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Heading into the season as the backup quarterback at Valley/Old Lyme High School in Deep River, Conn., Jack Cox was always ready for the call to take the field. “I had no doubt,” he said.
With senior QB Ryan Santos battling injuries for much of the year, Cox got plenty of opportunities to play for the Warriors, and he made the most of them.
A sophomore, Cox played in all nine of Valley/Old Lyme’s games and completed 36 of 68 passes for 581 yards and 3 touchdowns. “I’m pretty satisfied,” he said. “It could have been better, but I’ve got two more years to play and I’m looking forward to making the most of that time.”
As he prepares for his junior year with the Warriors, Cox can look back fondly at one highlight from his sophomore season. Replacing Santos in a game against Rockville, Valley/Old Lyme was trailing 28-27 with just under a minute to play.
Escaping intense defensive pressure, he hooked up with Jae’len Arnum for a 25-yard pass completion that put the ball on the one-yard line. Arnum ran in from there to give the Warriors a 33-28 win.
How well did Cox handle himself as a sophomore quarterback on a Valley/Old Lyme team that went 7-2? Not only is he No. 1 on the depth chart at QB for 2019, he has been named a team captain.
“That’s pretty great,” Cox said. “And going into next season, it’s my position to lose. It’s a good team and it’s a good program, we usually win a lot of games. I want to have a pretty good year as a junior and hopefully make All Conference at quarterback.”
Gaining quality experience as a sophomore should help make that goal a reality. “It’s definitely going to help me a lot,” Cox said. “I made a lot of mistakes this season, but having gone through it now will definitely help me. My coaches learned a lot about me and what I can do and what I need to work on during the off-season and moving forward.”
Working with NFA the last five years has helped Cox move forward in impressive fashion. “My first time training with NFA, they did a great job fixing my mechanics,” he said. “I was able to throw a spiral with more velocity. I’ve kept coming back and I’ve been keeping my mechanics sound. They’ve given me a lot of great information.”
Last year, Cox earned his first Duel invitation at an NFA immersion camp in Boston. He tied for fifth place among incoming sophomores.
“Going into the Duel for the first time, I wanted to see what other quarterbacks around the country were like and just have the opportunity to compete,” Cox said. “I wanted to see how I stacked up against those other guys. I was pretty happy tying for fifth, but I definitely could have done better. I don’t think I played up to my full potential, but I played pretty well and I’m happy with the way everything turned out.”
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Twitter – @JackCox73958808
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.”
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.
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He’s a winner in school, and Xavier Essex’s success in the classroom helps him win on the football field.
“In math class, I have to analyze problems in order to solve them,” said Essex, an eighth grade Honor Roll student at Annapolis Area Christian Middle School in Maryland. “I use the same skills to analyze things on the field. In some classes, we work together as a group on projects, which teaches me how to work with my classmates. Everyone has a responsibility to get their part done, just like on the football field.”
Playing quarterback for the Howard County Terps, Essex got it done in a big way this season. While leading the Terps to a 7-2 record and the championship game, he connected on 39-of-54 passes for 645 yards and 8 touchdowns.
“I’m happy that we learned to play together and be supportive of each other in order to be successful as a team,” Essex said. “By playing together, we were able to win most of our games this season. My goal was to be a positive role player on my team and help them win the Super Bowl. I also wanted to give myself options for high school and improve my mechanics and ability to throw in a competitive league.”
The best thing about setting goals is ultimately reaching them, and Essex was able to do that.
“I have to give credit to my great offensive line,” he said. “They allowed me time to execute plays and they are the players that make me better.”
Playing the position for eight years, Essex has blossomed into one of the top eighth grade QBs in the nation. He is an extremely accurate as a passer and able to read and react to opposing defenses.
“I’m working to improve my leadership skills,” Essex said. “I need to show better leadership, be more vocal.”
That is another goal he will ultimately accomplish. Winning the Duel was also on the list, and Essex finished first among incoming eighth graders at NFA’s showcase competition in July.
“I was honored to receive an invitation to the Duel (in Charlotte, N.C.),” he said. “I felt great that I was able to compete and win it. It was a great experience with great competition, and I was able to use the same focus techniques for the Duel that I used for my season.”
Essex has been training with NFA for four years, and the experience has had a profound impact on his overall development.
“NFA has helped me in many ways,” he said. “They taught me not to have unnecessary movements and to have better form when going through the throwing motion and throw with more power. NFA has also taught me that I’m here for the other players to serve, that it’s not just about me. I’ve learned how to be a better teammate, student, friend and son.”
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HUDL: Xavier Essex (https://www.hudl.com/profile/7551337/Xavier-Essex/)
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.”
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Overcoming adversity is a critical part of playing football, and Wallace Gibson IV has been dealing with a heavy load.
In August of 2017, Wallace lost his father in a tragic boating accident. “Wallace and his dad were inseparable,” said his mother, Angie Gibson. “He was Wallace’s biggest fan. I think a lot of his drive and commitment are to honor his dad. His dad was always encouraging, never hostile towards him, even when he was not playing well. Wallace’s life has been severely impacted by his loss but he works hard to do the very best he can.”
An eighth grader at McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tenn., Wallace Gibson IV has shown incredible maturity since losing his father. “Wallace has reached out to coaches, mentors, he has consistently done whatever he could possibly do to be a better athlete, leader and to make his dad proud of him,” Angie said. “And he did this all on his own.”
Wallace’s father would be extremely proud of his football accomplishments this season. Playing quarterback for the McCallie Blue Tornado, he started four of five games and threw 7 touchdown passes, including 3 in one game against a challenging opponent.
A QB for eight years, Gibson has impressive throwing ability, leadership skills and the drive to be the most prepared he can for every game. “I like being able to lead the team and leading them to be the best they can be,” he said.
Before the season, Gibson received an invitation to the Duel at an NFA camp in Atlanta. He placed fifth among incoming eighth graders.
“Being in the Top 5 at the Duel was truly a dream come true,” Gibson said. “It pushed me to work even harder and gave me the confidence to know I could succeed if I was willing to put in the work.”
Gibson has been training with NFA for a year and it’s helped him improve in all phases. “NFA has taught me that many things come together to be a better quarterback – character, hard work and education,” he said.
Speaking of education, Gibson has a 3.4 GPA while taking rigorous courses at McCallie School. “Playing football is so much a part of who Wallace is,” Angie Gibson said. “The best way I know to explain it is if he couldn’t be on the field, it would effect how he performs in school and vice versa. School teaches Wallace to be disciplined and trains his brain to be the most effective quarterback he can be.”
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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.”
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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.
Payton Falk competed at his second Duel in July, and he fared very well.
Not only did he finish first among incoming high school sophomores, he became the first Canadian to ever win NFA’s prestigious quarterback competition.
“The Duel showed me that I have what it takes to be a great quarterback,” said Falk, who received his invite at an NFA’s 3 Day OSD in Minneapolis (link to Minnesota). “I enjoyed every minute of it. This was my third Duel and finally being able to win it meant a lot, and then being the first Canadian to have ever done it was even more of an achievement.”
Heading into his season with a load of well-earned confidence, he had a big season at Steinbach Regional Secondary School in Manitoba. “The thing I am most proud of about this season is our team became the first team in school history to win 3 games in the top division,” Falk said of the Sabres’ strong showing in the Winnipeg High School Football League. “Our team was recently moved up to the top division and I’m honored to have been a part of the team’s success.”
Based on his historic showing at the Duel and spectacular 91.5 score in the competition, you would have thought Falk was going to quarterback SRSS this season. Instead, he did what was best for the team, and his remarkable athletic ability helped the Sabres roar. Falk rushed 15 times for 125 yards and caught 20 passes for 283 yards and 2 touchdowns on offense. On defense, he had 13 tackles and 1 forced fumble. Falk also returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.
“My goal heading into the season was to be the best athlete I can be for the team,” he said. “Go play wherever the coaches put me, do what’s best for the team and ball out at that position.”
Falk did all of those things, just as he’s been doing in the eight years he’s been playing football. He started playing QB three years ago.
“At quarterback, I enjoy the feeling of leading my team out on game day and having the other school watch you walk out,” Falk said. “It’s a feeling nothing can replace. As a receiver and running back, my favorite thing is making the big momentum-changing plays.”
Falk’s impressive development at quarterback has been bolstered by his three years training with NFA and Coach JC Boice (link to JC Boice). “Without NFA and JC, I would not be the quarterback or person I am today,” he said. “The program has taught me more than I can say. I’m truly honored to be a part of such a great program.”
Speaking of honor, Falk is an Honor Roll student at Steinback Regional Secondary School. “School helps me understand what is happening on the field and why we use the motions we use as I further my knowledge on the human body,” he said.
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Osmany Guzman is on quite a roll.
A year ago, he attended his first Duel and finished in second place among incoming fifth graders at NFA’s prestigious quarterback competition.
Guzman went on to pass for 1,600 yards and 24 touchdowns while leading the Allentown (Pa.) Central Catholic Mini Vikes to the playoffs and an 8-1 record.
This year, he finished second again among incoming sixth graders after securing a Duel invite at an NFA camp in Fairfax, Va.
“I was happy to be able to come back and place second two years in a row,” Guzman said. “It made me feel all the hard work, training and off-season conditioning will pay off in long run. It made me feel like I am on the right track and I need to continue to work hard and stay humble. I was very confident heading into the season.”
It was another successful season for Guzman. While passing for 1,850 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushing for 3 more TDs, he led the South Parkland Trojans to an 11-2 record.
The Trojans were the Lehigh County divison winners and they made it to the Eastern Pennsylvania Suburban Youth League championship game.
“The goals before the season were having a successful season, leading by example, winning the championship in our division and having fun with my friends and teammates,” Guzman said. “I’m happy I was able to lead my team to the league championship game and I’m happy I was able to play the game I love.”
This was his fifth season playing QB, and Guzman’s arrow continues pointing up. “What I like most about the quarterback position is being the leader on the field and helping my teammates,” he said. “I also like working alongside my teammates for one common goal, winning the championship.”
Guzman has been training with NFA and Coach James Martinez for almost five years, and he gives them both big credit for his development. “NFA has taught me everything I know about the QB position,” Guzman said. “I started training with them when I was 7 years old and they have taught me fundamentals, proper mechanics and how to conduct myself around my teammates, family members and peers. NFA has taught to put my personal goals aside for the good of the team, to sacrifice and to give more of myself knowing I might not receive the same in exchange.”
If he sounds like an intelligent young quarterback, it adds up. In addition to being one of the top sixth grade QBs in the country, Guzman is an Honor Roll student at Orefield Middle School. “School has helped me understand the offense and playbook and it helps me to read the defense during games,” he said.
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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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Micah Gallegos plays for Basic Academy of International Studies in Henderson, Nev., but he is a far cry from ordinary on the football field.
Playing for the Wolves’ JV team as a sophomore this season, Gallegos offered an impressive preview of what’s to come with the varsity next year.
While guiding Basic’s junior varsity team to a 7-2 record, he passed for over 1,500 yards while frequently being pulled early due to lopsided scores.
Gallegos used his sturdy size – 6-foot-0, 210 pounds – to his advantage at QB. “It helps me because I can take hits and step into the pocket a lot easier than a taller, lighter quarterback,” he said. “Nobody is going to hurt me easily, and I’m pretty comfortable in the pocket. But the size can also can become a weakness if I don’t continue to work on my speed. I must be able to scramble and be able to run the football when needed.”
Gallegos also utilized his size on the defensive side of the football this season. “I played a lot of defensive end and had quite a few sacks and 1 interception,” he said. “The interception was on an under screen that I recognized and dropped instead of blitzed. I was able to pick it off and it was one of my favorite plays of the season.”
Making plays on defense and playing other positions on offense were commonplace for Gallegos when he was a younger player. That changed during his fifth grade season.
“That’s when I started playing quarterback,” Gallegos said. “I only started playing QB because our youth team desperately needed someone to step up and take on the role. Our starting quarterback had just moved up and we were stuck. I’ve always felt like I’d do anything to help the team and at the time, that was the need. I’ve been in love with the position ever since.”
It didn’t take him long to become comfortable at QB. “My favorite thing about the position is everything starts with you,” Gallegos said. “You have to know the plays, you have to lead, you have to know the cadence and most importantly, you have to show that you have confidence to get the job done. When the QB is confident and works his butt off your teammates will do the same, especially the line.”
Before the season, Gallegos received a Duel invitation at an NFA camp in Laguna Beach, Calif. He finished second among incoming sophomores at the showcase competition.
“The Duel was an amazing experience for me,” Gallegos said. “I have never been to anything like it. Even though I’ve played in the International Bowl as a defensive back and have gone to Top Gun several times at QB, nothing was ever like the Duel. It was by far the toughest competition and biggest learning experience I’ve ever had. I brought back so much and was immediately able to transfer everything I learned to my team.”
Gallegos has thoroughly enjoyed the two years he’s been training with NFA. “I wish I would have been working with NFA a lot longer,” he said. “I could clearly see the difference in my mechanics and it’s given me a huge advantage. I look forward to continuing to training and learning with NFA.”
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