More than most sports, football is full of highs and lows, especially at the quarterback position.
Throwing touchdown passes is the ultimate high, especially in a winning effort. Throwing an interception is a real downer, especially if it factors into the final outcome.
Experienced QBs savor every snap, because injuries lurk around every corner. With that in mind, look for Liam Shepherd to come back stronger than ever next season.
“I am currently working on strength training in my core and lower body,” Shepherd said. “I’m also working on making my reads on offense.”
Unfortunately for the eighth grader from Memphis, he can only look ahead after missing the season with an an ulnar nerve compression. But Shepherd showed he has the skills to be a standout quarterback when he enters his freshman year at Memphis University School.
Before his eighth grade season was shelved, Shepherd competed in the Duel and finished fourth at NFA’s showcase quarterback competition in Atlanta.
“Participating in the Duel gave me confidence because I had the opportunity to compete with the best players and to compare myself to the best,” he said. “Knowing I could compete at that level gave me the confidence to be a leader when I got back home to my own team.”
While he placed fourth against a tough class of QBs after receving his invite at an NFA camp in Nashville, Shepherd was far from satisfied. “My success at the Duel made me proud, but I know I need to improve reading the defense in order to do better,” he said.
As he gets back up to speed at quarterback, Shepherd’s power arm and accurate passing touch will quickly return. He will focus on “playing outside the pocket and scanning the receivers.”
Shepherd has been playing QB the past four years and enjoys the overall responsibilities that come with the position. “I like having the opportunity to be a leader of my team on the field,” he said.
Training with NFA the past year has helped Shepherd take his game to a higher level. “NFA helped me to become better because the coaches fixed my three-step drop and I learned about the muscles that make up the throwing machine,” he said.
In addition to being an up-and-coming quarterback, Shepherd also gets the job done in the classroom and is an honor roll student at Memphis University School. “School helps me on the field because it gives me the discipline and organization that I need to be a good football player and leader of my team,” he said.
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Kyle Long’s first three times competing in the Duel were good, but not quite good enough. “I finished sixth all three times,” he said.
This year, it was different. “I was really motivated,” Long said.
Competing against over 40 incoming juniors, Long placed fourth overall at NFA’s showcase competition in Atlanta.
“It was definitely cool to get Top 5 in my final Duel,” he said. “It definitely helped my confidence. It was a good way to go right into the season with high confidence. It really kind of kicked things off in a great way for me.”
Long’s success at the Duel carried over into his junior season at Newton High School in Iowa. Starting at quarterback for the first time with the varsity, he helped the Cardinals go 6-4.
Newton finished strong after losing its first two games of the year. “The start of the season was a little bit rough,” Long said. “We got off to a tough start, so we really had to buckle down. We started progressing mentally and physically. Our team worked really hard and we came together.”
When the season ended, Long was 45-of-88 passing for 725 yards and 4 touchdowns, good for a 126.3 QB rating.
The numbers would have been even better, but Newton rushed for 3,105 yards. That ranked No. 1 among Class 3A teams in Iowa.
If the Cardinals decide to throw the ball more next season, Long will be ready. The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder has been playing quarterback since he started playing football “as a little kid.”
“I just like the leadership aspect of playing quarterback, being in control of how our team does,” Long said. “I like being in control of our offense, not only on the field but off the field, too.”
Long credits his six years of training with NFA for helping him develop into a standout quarterback.
“NFA has done so much for me,” he said. “I remember from my first camp, it was probably the most difficult thing I’ve done, mentally and physically. They push you in ways you don’t think you can be pushed. It’s always a competitive atmosphere when you’re at those camps, when you’re with those guys. They are just trying to get the best out of you, and I think that really has improved my competitive mindset and it just makes you want to win and makes you want to good for your team. NFA has done a really great job with that program. It’s cool to see how much I’ve grown and progressed throughout the years.”
Jadon Claps was one of a very few freshmen to play varsity football for Glacier Peak High School this year.
A powerhouse program located in Snohomish, Wash., the Grizzlies went 8-2 this season and were one of the top teams in the state.
Claps is an up-and-coming quarterback, but that’s not the position he played at Glacier Peak. With standout senior Ayden Ziomas under center, the Grizzlies plugged Claps in at safety.
In his first varsity game, the athletic Claps was named one of the top three defensive players. “I was happy I got to start at safety on varsity,” he said. “I was honored my coaches saw I could compete and produce at that level.”
Down the road, Claps is postioned to step in as Glacier Peak’s starting quarterback. He was the backup this season, and he was also the starting QB for the Grizzlies’ freshman team before joining the varsity.
“I was happy that I got my freshman team on track to an undefeated season (9-0) before I left for the varsity,” Claps said. “And I’m happy that we made the playoffs for the varsity.”
A left-hander, Claps accounted for 21 touchdowns in the 12 quarters he spent quarterbacking Glacier Peak’s freshman team. “My strengths as a QB are I’m athletic, I’m quick and can scramble,” he said. “I’m a leader to my teammates and I’m a good team player. I’m competitive. I study film and the playbook a lot so I know what I’m doing.”
Before his sophomore season at Glacier Peak, Claps is going to work hard to sharpen his already considerable skills. “I’m working on improving my ability to read defenses quicker and keeping my upper body level when I’m throwing,” he said. “I study my R4 book and plan to ask my coach if I could work with him in the off-season studying film.”
While he’s already shown the ability to be a strong defensive player, Claps has been playing quarterback for six years and really enjoys being on the offensive side of the ball. “I like to be the one to lead my team into battle,” he said. “I always watch the quarterback when watching the NFL and college football.”
Training with NFA since April of 2017 has helped make Claps an even better quarterback. “I’m more aware of my mechanics now,” he said. “I can now self-correct myself. Training with NFA has opened my eyes to see the little things when I watch quarterbacks throw. I can figure out defensive coverages and I’m aware of the hard deck and receivers being capped.”
Before the season, Claps placed third among incoming freshmen at the Duel. “Being my first Duel and not knowing what to expect, I wanted to at least make the Top 10,” he said. “Making the Top 3 exceeded my expectations and was a big confidence booster heading into my high school season.”
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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.”
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The improvement started at the Duel, and it continued throughout the season.
After placing eighth in the Duel before heading into eighth grade, Hayden Richardson climbed to No. 5 overall among incoming ninth graders this summer.
“I was happy with coming in fifth place,” he said. “It helped my confidence and it helped me understand what I am capable of doing. I look forward to continuing to improve.”
Heading into the season at Marist School, a powerhouse football program in Atlanta, Richardson continued to improve while emerging as the No. 1 quarterback on the War Eagles’ freshman team.
As the season progressed, he was bumped up to the JV team and also was promoted to the varsity. “I am really happy about making the most of my limited role with the freshman team throughout the season,” Richardson said. “I was able to make the most of my limited role and show how I can contribute to the team. We started the season 1-2 but we were able to win four straight and finish at 5-2.”
His success at the Duel and with Marist School’s freshman team helped elevate Richardson to the JV and varsity programs. “I look to be as consistent as possible and continue to improve everything,” he said. “I can make plays with my legs, I have good overall accuracy and I am a good decision maker.”
Richardson is very good in all areas, but he is still working hard to become an even better quarterback. “I’m working to improve my overall game,” he said. “I want to be as consistent as possible and continue to improve everything. I want to get better at avoiding the rush when I’m in the pocket and improve my footwork.”
A quarterback since he was in third grade, Richardson has gotten better and better with experience. “Playing quarterback, I really enjoy being able to handle the ball every play and be in complete control of the offense,” he said. “And I like being able to run and throw the ball.”
Training with NFA for the past three years has helped Richardson take his game to higher levels. He qualified for the Duel at a camp at East Coweta High School in Georgia.
“NFA has improved my arm over the last three years,” Richardson said. “Each year, it has improved greatly. Without NFA I wouldn’t be able to throw as well as I do today. They have also helped me with understanding to read defenses and avoid pass rushers. They have really helped me improve.”
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Lining up against teams with older players didn’t stop Greyson Stevens from setting his sights high this season.
“The goal this year was to make playoffs,” he said. “I am very happy with how well we are doing playing against older boys.”
Playing for the Lightning Grid Kids in Yakima, Wash., Stevens helped his team get off to a 3-2 start, making them playoff eligible. “I am very happy with how well we are doing playing as a team,” he said. “I am also very proud of my improvements, not just as a quarterback but also on defense.”
Stevens plays cornerback and is also a kicker for the Lightning. But quarterback is his favorite position on the football field.
“I love being the quarterback because I am in control of the game,” Stevens said. “I can throw or run because I am very fast.”
A fifth grader at St. Joseph Marquette, he has been playing QB since the age of 7. “My strengths as a quarterback are my accuracy and decision making,” Stevens said. “I am working to improve on getting the ball out faster and improve the distance I throw and release time.”
He has made impressvie strides since first stepping under center, and all of the hard work and talent was on display at the Duel in July. Stevens finished fourth among incoming fourth/fifth graders at NFA’s showcase competition.
“I was very happy that I placed in the Duel,” he said. “It was very exciting to hear my name called, and it let me know I can compete with boys from all over the nation. I definitely felt very confident going into this football season after competing in the Duel.”
Stevens qualified for the Duel in Seattle, and he has been training with NFA for a year. “I feel more confident as a quarterback because of the NFA and all of the instruction I have received,” he said. “I am excited to continue my training with NFA and Coach (JC) Boice.”
In addition to being a rising football talent. Stevens also excels at basketball and baseball. He is an Honor roll student in the classroom.
“School helps me on the field because I know that I have to put the work and time into my studies, just the same as I have to put the work and time into my sport,” he said.
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When he looks back on the season, Ethan Fritz is going to have multiple reasons to be proud.
In July, the quarterback from Brunswick, Ohio, finished in first place at the Duel, NFA’s showcase competition in Atlanta.
“Winning the Duel, it reassured me how much my hard work has paid off and gave me the desire to keep going,” Fritz said. “I am confident in the abilities I have been acquiring through hard work with this accomplishment, and I appreciate the help I’ve gotten from my parents, teammates and coaches.”
After coming out on top among incoming freshmen at the Duel, Fritz quarterbacked the Brunswick High School frosh football team to a 7-3 record.
“I am really proud with how much we improved as a team and built chemistry together,” he said. “As an individual, I am happy with how much better I have gotten going through my progressions and how much better my footwork has gotten.”
While guiding the Blue Devils to a winning record, Fritz showed impressive precision while completing 71 of 93 passes (76 percent) for 1,301 yards and 15 touchdowns. The numbers would have been even better, but he was lifted early in seven games after Brunswick built lopsided leads.
Fritz also put up stellar stats on the ground, rushing for 642 yards and 9 TDs.
It was a great season in every aspect, not that the rising QB is completely satisfied. “I’m working to improve my footwork, my skills on reading defenses, my mechanics, my pocket presence, and my overall skill of being a team leader,” Fritz said.
In the seven years he has been playing quarterback, Fritz has made steady improvement in all phases of his game. “I think I’ve gotten better and better keeping my composure under pressure,” he said. “I have the ability to process information quickly, and I typically make good decisions on the field. There are times I try to do too much in tough situations, but I’m realizing there will be another down.”
Training with NFA since he was in the fourth grade helped Fritz develop into a top caliber QB. “NFA has helped me with my mechanics,” said Fritz, who received his Duel invitation at an NFA camp in Indianapolis. “Using NFA’s R4 system has helped me read defenses, and NFA has really helped me understand how much you have to go through as a leader. Two of the things I really like about playing quarterback are being in the position to lead and having the ability to impact the game.”
As good as he is on the football field, Fritz is equally adept in the classroom. He has a 3.88 GPA while taking honors classes.
“School helps me realize the importance of following details,” Fritz said. “The multi-tasking that I have to do on a daily basis throughout school also helps me as well. School provides me with multiple life skills such as discipline, personal responsibility, and the necessity of good decision making.”
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Twitter: Ethan Fritz @EthanFritz13
Hudl: Ethan Fritz (Brunswick, Ohio)
Before the first game of the season, Colton Becker jammed a finger on his throwing hand and wasn’t able to pass a football. His team, the Seahawks, lost the opener 42-0.
Becker was feeling better in the second game, and so was the offense. Playing quarterback for the Seahawks in the Primetime Flag North Scottsdale 12U, Becker completed 10-of-15 passes and had 3 touchdowns in a 21-6 win.
Feeling much better in the third game of the season, he was 16-of-20 with 5 touchdowns. In the Seahawks’ 42-12 win, Becker also returned an interception for a TD.
“I’m happiest about the team’s improvement and winning games,” he said. “Heading into the season, my personal goal was 20 passing touchdowns.”
Even with the finger injury, Becker is well within reach of attaining his goal. He is also looking to solidify his strengths at QB and work on his shortcomings.
“I think my strength is extending plays,” Becker said. “But I can be better at everything. I’m working on improving my throws when I’m on the run. I also want to get better on deep throws.”
A fifth grader at Kyrene de las Brisas Elementary School in Chandler, Ariz., Becker is also a success in the classroom and is an Honor Roll student. “Doing well in school helps me to read plays and make decisions when I’m playing football,” he said.
Even though he’s a young player, Becker is in his eighth season playing quarterback. “I like playing QB because I get to make decisions on where the ball goes,” he said.
Becker’s ability to make strong, accurate throws paid off at the Duel, where he placed third among incoming fourth and fifth graders. He qualified for the showcase competition at an NFA camp in Scottsdale.
“The Duel was a great booster going into the season,” Becker said. “I feel great that I improved year over year at the Duel. Earning third place was a bonus.”
Becker has improved his overall play by training with NFA the last two years. He has also worked with NFA product Tommy Thornton, who was a college quarterback at Wyoming.
“NFA has helped me with my accuracy through the throwing mechanics and fundamentals,” Becker said. “I can’t wait to get better in the off-season with NFA.”
The first Duel is often the toughest. It’s very likely the first national competition for quarterbacks in fourth/fifth grade, and more and more QBs are coming in from Canada to take part in NFA’s showcase summer event.
Chap Chapman earned his Duel invite in Atlanta, Ga 2 Day PSP and the fifth grader from nearby Monroe finished in first place among the youngest group of QBs at the competition.
“Winning the Duel title was a great experience,” Chapman said. “I learned so much about what I need to do as a quarterback to succeed on the field. And the coaches and players I competed against taught me so much that I used during the season. Winning the Duel gave me the confidence that in real games, I could make the tough throws under pressure. And having the correct fundamentals made all the difference this season.”
Playing QB for George Walton Academy this season, Chapman led the Bulldogs to the playoff semifinals. “Heading into the season, the goal was to help my team win the league title,” he said. “I’m most proud of the comeback win we had in the first round of playoffs.”
Given the way he is rapidly developing at quarterback, many more wins are undoubtedly coming in the future. “I feel playing quarterback is the best possible position because you can help your team win in so many different ways,” Chapman said.
While his throwing skills are obviously strong given his showing at the Duel, Chapman can also run the football. He accounted for 8 touchdowns this season via the pass and rush.
As his career progresses, Chapman is working to get better and better. “I have a lot of confidence in my arm strength and accuracy,” he said. “But I am working to improve my all-around game, from my passing form to reading defenses and carrying out play fakes. I also want to learn to make the right mental decisions on when to scramble or throw the ball away.”
Training with NFA and Coach Adam Britt in Monroe, Ga. the past two years has helped Chapman get a leg up on the competition.
He is also an Honor Roll student at George Walton Academy. “My general education helps me understand plays and how to read defensive and offensive schemes,” Chapman said.
Cash O’Callaghan’s remarkable success as a young quarterback is not an accident.
“It shows that my hard work is paying off,” he said. “It proved that the hours of training I put in throughout the year, in-season and off-season, my passion for the sport, my focus on nutrition, the time I spend watching and breaking down video, all helped me to get to where I am today.”
Here’s where O’Callaghan is at. Through the first 8 games of the season, he’s guided the Petaluma (Calif.) Panthers to a 5-3 record. There is one game left in the regular season before the playoffs begin.
“Going into the season, the goals were to lead my team to the playoffs and win the league championship,” he said. “We have a solid group of returning players and several strong receivers, which makes us hard for defenses to stop.”
O’Callaghan has been extremely difficult to stop at quarterback. He completed 119 of 176 attempts passes for 1,621 yards and 17 touchdowns in the Panthers’ first 8 games.
“I am happy with my performance passing as well as rushing,” O’Callaghan said. “I also feel that my mechanics have improved and that I have grown as a leader.”
The team success should come as no suprise. Last year, O’Callaghan played on a team that went 8-3 during the regular season and 10-4 through the playoffs before earning a bid to compete in the inaugural Pro Football Hall of Fame National Youth Championships in Canton, Ohio. The team won 2 of 3 games in the regional tournament to take first place in an 11-state region and went on to finish third in the country.
O’Callaghan has been playing football for five years, all of them at quarterback. He’s also played safety, defensive end and special teams, but QB is his go-to position. “I really like the opportunity to run the whole offense and the need to understand what every player on the field is doing, or should be doing, at any given time,” O’Callaghan said.
Before the season started, he placed fourth among incoming sixth graders at the Duel. “Knowing that not only could I compete, but take fourth place among the top QBs in the nation, was a huge confidence booster,” said O’Callaghan, who received his Duel invitation at an NFA camp in Pleasanton, Calif.
O’Callaghan has been training with NFA since 2015.
“Training with NFA has improved my mechanics, taught me how to better read and respond to a defense and helped me to become a better leader,” he said. “Learning and applying the R4 offensive system into my passing game has helped me tremendously.”
As successful as he is on the football field, O’Callaghan is also an Honor Roll student at Sonoma Mountain Elementary. “Doing well in school teaches me focus, discipline and time management,” he said.
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FB: Kristin Taylor O’Callaghan
He’s only in fourth grade, and Brody Hasquin has only been playing quarterback for three years.
“I’m working to improve my throwing technique,” he said. “And my foot speed, I’m also working to improve that.”
As Hasquin grows older and gains more experience, he’s sure to make positive strides in all areas of the challenging position. But so far, the young QB has been very good.
“I really like the leadership that comes with playing quarterback and the responsibilty that comes with playing the position,” Hasquin said. “Heading into the season, my goal was to become a better passer in the scheme of the offense. I’m really happy with the way my overall game has improved on a daily basis, and my leadership skills are growing even faster.”
Before playing quarterback for the Troy (Illinois) Titans this season, Hasquin received an invitation to the Duel at an NFA camp in Nashville. He placed fifth among incoming fourth and fifth graders at the showcase competition in Atlanta.
“It was a great experience, I loved it,” Hasquin said of his strong showing at the Duel. “Doing well boosted my confidence for the season and I was able to use that as a stepping stone.”
Hasquin, the son of Granite City High School football head coach Brad Hasquin, recently started training with NFA. “This is my first year, and I’ve already registered for Year 2,” he said. “Training with NFA has already helped improve my throwing technique. They’ve helped me become more confident and my awareness playing quarterback has increased.”
Hasquin attends Henning Elementary School and is an Honor Roll student. “Doing well in school helps improve my intelligence of all aspects of the game,” he said.
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In Texas, the Lake Travis school system has produced a long list of top-flight quarterbacks, including 2017 Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall draft pick Baker Mayfield, Garrett Gilbert, Charlie Brewer, Michael Brewer and Matthew Baldwin.
Is Braeden Hatfield destined to join the standout group of QBs? All early indications indicate a rousing “Yes.”
In July, the seventh grader won the Duel after receiving his invite at NFA’s three-day off-season immersion camp in San Antonio. (link to San Antonio Texas)
“I am very proud and excited about my success at the Duel,” Hatfield said. “It showed all of the hard work I put in over the last year to become Duel champion paid off. I also feel my success in the Duel helped prepare me for the next level of competition. In sixth grade, I played for a much smaller school system but moved to a very large and competitive school system for my seventh grade year. By participating and succeeding in the Duel, it showed me I could hang with anybody as a QB and it gave me the confidence to earn the seventh grade A-Team starting job in a school system known for producing great quarterbacks.”
With Hatfield under center, the Lake Travis Knights went 2-4-1. He passed for 600 yards and 4 touchdowns and also rushed for a whopping 1,100 yards and 7 TDs.
“Going into the season, the goals were winning district and helping my team any way I could,” Hatfield said. “I’m really happy about keeping the team going in the face of adversity and injuries, and the thing I was most happy about as a team was finishing the year strong after a very shaky start.”
As he works his way to the high school level, Hatfield will continue to lean on his athleticism, power, accuracy and arm strength. “Where I’m looking to improve as a QB is being able to recognize what the defense is running and take advantage of that recognition,” he said.
Hatfield has been playing QB for three years. “I like the challenge of the position and being in control of what happens on the field,” he said.
Training with NFA for the past four years has helped Hatfield develop into a promising young quarterback. “Without NFA, I probably wouldn’t be a quarterback,” he said. “NFA has helped me most by teaching me all aspects of the mechanics of throwing and given me the tools to help correct my errors when they occur.”
While he’s a rising star on the football field, Hatfield also has great success in the classroom. “Being an Honor Roll student helps me on the field by teaching me discipline and giving me the mental confidence to play quarterback,” 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.
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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.’”
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Different state, same great results.
Maika Eugenio cut his teeth playing quarterback in Hawaii, and his standout skills are now on display in Nevada.
A sixth grader at Faith Lutheran Middle & High School, Eugenio is playing QB for the 12U Las Vegas 49ers. In his first game, a win, Eugenio was 6-of-7 passing for 155 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also rushed for a TD.
“I am happy we won our season-opening game,” Eugenio said. “As a team, we work well together and work hard. For myself, I was out for a month for health reasons and I’m so blessed to get back on the field and play the game I love very much.”
Eugenio set some goals before entering his first season with a new team. “I want to be quicker with my reads and move the chains,” he said. “Also, I want to win my first championship in Las Vegas.”
He is off to a great start, and the 49ers are primed to have a banner season with Eugenio under center.
“My strengths as a QB are my throwing accuracy, decision making and my leadership,” he said. “I’m always positive with my teammates, no matter if the situation is good or bad. I don’t let bad plays bother me.”
While he is still a young player, Eugenio started playing flag football at the age of 3. He’s been a quarterback since the age of 4.
“I like being a leader and commanding the offense for the success of the team,” Eugenio said. “I love throwing the football around and seeing my teammates happy. I love the competition, too.”
His competitive edge really showed this summer at the Duel. Making the trip to NFA’s showcase event in Atlanta after qualifying in Honolulu, Eugenio finished first among incoming sixth graders. He also posted the highest overall score (94) at the Duel.
“I remember at the Duel when Coach (Darin) Slack said that when you make promises, you should keep them,” Eugenio said. “I promised myself and my parents that I would win this competition. My family and friends were so proud of me. My parents taught me to love God, always be humble, keep working hard to be a hard worker and always have fun and build friendships. And wherever I go, to share the Aloha spirit with everyone.”
Eugenio is an impressive young quarterback, and he credits training with NFA the past two years for helping him develop.
“I want to thank Coach JC Boice and Coach Nui Uahinui for believing in me, this Hawaii boy.” Eugenio said. Maika earned his Duel Invite to NFA’s QB Training in Honolulu Hawaii. “Having just moved to Las Vegas with my family a few months ago, I am looking forward to working with NFA more often. My dad (Mat) always says to surround yourself with the best. So I am learning from the best. NFA has taught me how to throw with my hips and how to improve on my accuracy. They taught me how to read and escape. Also, how to have high character and to be a strong leader at QB.”
Not only is he successful on the football field, Eugenio is an honor roll student. “My parents expect us to have good grades in order to play sports,” he said. “It also helps me with my decision making and organization skills. I learn to budget my time wisely.”
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