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.”
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.
Quincy Crittendon is a thoughtful young quarterback. He is also loaded with confidence.
“I want to be the best quarterback ever to come through Austin,” he said. “I want to always be throwing the football. I want to win games. I want to win all of them.”
Those are some pretty lofty goals, but Crittendon has been backing them up as he continues to demonstrate impressive development at QB. “I’m very confident in myself, and I’m confident in my team,” he said.
As the starting freshman quarterback at Austin High School in Decatur, Ala., this season, Crittendon guided the Black Bears to a 7-1 record. He averaged nearly 3 touchdown passes per game.
Before moving into Austin’s powerhouse football program – the varsity Black Bears won their first 11 games this season and outscored the opposition 499-116 – Crittendon closed out his middle school playing days on a high note. As an eighth grader, he led Cedar Ridge Middle School to a 7-1 record and the Tennessee Valley state championship.
Crittendon has been playing quarterback since he was in fifth grade. “I like everything about the position,” he said. “I really like throwing the football. I run sometimes when I have to, but I like throwing the ball.”
With more than 40 touchdown passes over the last two seasons, Crittendon is obviously very good at throwing the football. Training with QBA the past three years has helped him become a prolific passer in a state that is crazy about football.
“QBA has helped me a lot,” Crittendon said. “They’ve helped me with my throwing mechanics and technique, and they’ve also helped me become more confident and a better leader.”
As he prepares to lead the Austin H.S. varsity program to more glory, Crittendon displayed his skills again at the Duel in July.
It was his third trip to QBA’s showcase competition, and Crittendon placed fifth among incoming freshmen. “The first time I went to the Duel, I came in sixth place,” he said. “The second time, I came in third. This time, I came in fifth. I wasn’t down about this year. I’m very honored to have finished in the Top 5 but I know I can do better.”
Crittendon, a talented guard on the basketball court, has been getting progressively better on the football field. “I’ve been working on getting faster and improving my all-around game,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to the future. I’m going to keep on working to be the best quarterback I can be.”
Brett Simcox was having a great season for a great high school program in Texas.
Starting the first five junior varsity games of the year at quarterback for The Woodlands H.S. outside of Houston, Simcox passed for roughly 1,000 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 2 more scores.
“In the beginning, it was a little rough getting into it,” the 6-foot-2, 185-pound sophomore said. “But once that second and third game came around, it was pretty good. I was happy with the way I played. I’m not really surprised because I was surrounded by some pretty good athletes. That definitely contributed to my success.”
Simcox’s successful season abruptly ended in the Highlanders’ sixth game. On a fluke play where the ball was snapped over his head, Simcox suffered a broken left leg.
“The positive is I got to play the first five games,” he said. “I’m doing my part by recovering. And I didn’t want to completely forget about the team, because I’m still in that position of quarterback. I go to the games, help coach some, help and support my teammates. I talk to the backup about what he’s seeing, how can I help. Being there with the team helps in my recovery.”
Simcox is looking forward to being 100 percent by the spring, and he’s already set his sights on participating in 7-on-7 competition in the summer. As for his junior season, his goal is set.
“My goal is to start for varsity,” Simcox said. “I want to compete for that spot.”
As a freshman, Simcox was on the sidelines when the Highlanders played in the 6A Division I state championship game. He hopes to return as The Woodlands starting QB.
“Being on the sideline for that game, it gave me a good idea of what I can look forward to,” Simcox said. “Seeing the coaches and all the players in a game like that, it was exciting.”
Simcox has been playing quarterback for five years, and he’s been training with the Quarterback Academy for three years. “QBA has really helped me develop, and the R4 camps for me have been the most productive,” he said. “Those camps gave me the ability to slow down the time in games. The game speed is slower than what I was used to before I went to the R4 camps. It’s really helped make me better and more efficient.”
Receiving his first Duel invite earlier this year at a QBA camp in Denton, Texas, Simcox headed to Atlanta in July and finished second among a skilled group of incoming sophomores.
“Going into the first Duel, I think my expectations were pretty low,” he said. “But it was more intense than I thought it was going to be. I was kind of expecting more of a friendly competition. It was friendly, but it was really, really, intense. It was exciting.”
Simcox was pleased with his showing at the Duel. “It was nice to finish second,” he said. “That gave me confidence going into the year, and even for next year. It showed me that I competed well but I’m not the best and I still have more to work toward.”
It’s not easy standing out when playing in The Woodlands High School football program. In a word, it is massive.
In addition to the varsity, there are two junior varsity teams, two sophomore teams and three freshman teams. The Highlanders also have six teams each at the seventh and eighth grade levels.
Needless to say, it can be easy getting caught up in the dreaded numbers game. But Ben Mills is already standing above the crowd at the Houston-area school.
Mills, a 6-foot, 180-pounder, is playing quarterback for The Woodlands’ top freshman team and he’s off to a fabulous start this season.
“I’m pretty happy with our season so far,” Mills said. “We’ve got a really good offensive line, so that’s really helped.” With Mills sharing time at quarterback, the Highlanders are 3-1 and have outscored their opponents 95-25. The highlight win was a 26-0 decision over Katy, the 2015 varsity national champions.
Mills passed for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns against Katy and also rushed for 74 yards on only 6 carries. On the season, he’s completed 16 of 47 passes for 294 yards and 3 touchdowns and run 14 times for 115 yards and another score.
“Playing at the high school level, it’s tougher than I thought it would be,” Mills said. “The schools we play against are a lot bigger and there’s just better competition. But it’s been great so far, a lot of fun. My goals going into the season were to get playing time, get better and continue to work on improving my timing with the receivers.”
So far, so good. And Mills is also one of only four freshman football players at The Woodlands that travel with the varsity team. He doesn’t dress with the varsity, but the experience has been invaluable.
“It definitely is inspiring,” Mills said. “Being around the varsity, it shows how much better you need to get, how much work you need put in. And it shows you how much faster the game is.”
To prepare for the next step up in Texas’ fifth-largest high school by enrollment, Mills has been training with NFA the last two years. NFA Coach Aaron Cupp’s guidance has been particularly valuable.
“Working with NFA, they’ve helped me throw the football with more power and they’ve helped me learn the aspects of what you need to be as a quarterback,” Mills said.
In the summer, Mills received an invite to his first Duel, and he overcame a slow start and finished in the Top 5 among incoming ninth graders at NFA’s showcase event.
“I talked to Coach Cupp before the Duel and I looked at it as a big challenge because I had never gone before,” Mills said. “It was pretty much what I expected, a really good competition. The first day, I struggled with some accuracy stuff and then I was able to go back to the hotel and look at film and see what I was doing wrong. I was able to fix it and that showed that I can look at what I did wrong on film and make the adjustments.”
Faring so well at the Duel has helped Mills’ performance as a freshman QB. “It definitely helped my confidence a lot,” he said. “It showed I can definitely fit in playing quarterback at my school.”
As a junior at Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas last year, Mitch Cason was the Marauders’ starting quarterback in the first game of the season. It did not take long for adversity to come calling.
“Things didn’t go well and I got pulled at halftime,” Cason recalled. “They put another guy (Andrew Parish) in there and he played well and wound up starting the rest of the season. I was the backup.”
Not surprisingly, Cason did not initially handle the switch all that well. He is a competitor, and competitors always like being on the field.
But Cason knows he plays a team sport, and he acted accordingly. “It was difficult for me because I worked really hard to get that position,” Cason said. “It just kind of got pulled out from under me pretty suddenly. But I had a team-first attitude and I fulfilled my role as the backup and tried to do everything I could to be ready on a play’s notice.”
When his junior year ended, Cason immediately focused on his senior season at Marcus.
“After my junior season, the coach brought us in and told us there was an open competition,” Cason said. “I was really motivated to take the job this year and not leave it up for grabs. I came in and had a really good winter and spring and we kind of knew it was my job to win. (Parish) moved to wide receiver and it all worked out really well.”
With Cason connecting on 82 of 125 passes (65.6 percent) for 990 yards and 10 touchdowns, the Marauders have roared out to a 4-1 start. Their lone loss came against powerhouse Allen High School last week, a 38-28 decision.
“They’re the No. 4 team in the nation and we played them pretty well,” said the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Cason. “We just couldn’t pull it out at the end. We were really happy with the way we played. We knew the effort was there. A call here and there and a couple of lucky plays, just some things didn’t go our way and that really meant the difference in the game. Overall, from the coaches and players standpoint, we were really happy with how we played. After a game like that, we know we can hang with the best teams in the state and even in the nation. It was a loss and we’re all really disappointed about it, but we took a lot of good things away from it and we really think we got better.”
Cason said training with NFA for the past six years have helped him become a better quarterback.
“NFA really developed me as a passer,” Cason said. “With my throwing motion, it’s really something where I can analyze myself. I know what I’m doing well. And if I miss a throw, I know what went wrong. They taught me the basic principles of throwing the ball with the correct motion in the most efficient way.”
All of the hard work has paid off big in Cason’s senior season at Marcus. “We’ve been really happy with how it’s gone so far,” he said. “A lot of people weren’t really expecting a whole lot from us before the season, but we knew we had some weapons on offense. We’re pretty balanced with throwing the ball and running the ball. I think I’ve played smart. I’ve made some good throws and am really happy with the way I’ve played.”
While he had to wait until his senior season to become the full-time varsity starter, Cason is looking forward to continuing his playing career as a college QB.
“I have absolutely no doubt that I can succeed anywhere I go,” he said. “It’s definitely a goal of mine, playing football at the next level. My name has only been on the radar for five games, but I think I’ve put some good film together and we’re going to do what we can to get the film out there and see if we can get some interest.”
Davis Brin the latest rising star from Boerne, Texas
NFA is hugely successful training talented young quarterbacks from all across the United States and up in Canada. Boerne, Texas, has really become a hotbed of talent.
Quinten Dormady, who has been training with NFA since 2011, is the starting quarterback at Boerne High School, and he is headed off to play college football at Tennessee next season.
Ethan Fitzgerald has roots in Boerne, located just outside of San Antonio, and he finished third in the 2013 Duel at Massillon, Ohio.
Next up is Davis Brin, who won this summer’s NFA showcase event in the competition among incoming freshman.
“This was my second time at the Duel, and two years ago, my first time there, I was a little bit nervous,” Brin said. “It was kind of more for the experience and I performed pretty well, but not in top three.”
After leading his Boerne Middle School South team to an 8-1 record and District title as an eighth grader, Brin kept working and he prepared himself for another trip to historic Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Ohio.
“This year, I definitely wanted to finish in the top three or four,” Brin said. “I had more confidence going into this year’s competition. To finish first, it was a great feeling. I was really happy and I worked hard for it. And I was coming out from behind. I started out fourth going into the finals and I did well in the final gauntlet and came out on top.”
Brin carried the added confidence back to Texas, where he is quarterbacking Boerne Champion High School’s top freshman team this season. “It definitely boosted my confidence up,” he said. “And I was able to get my three-step drops down over the summer and I was working a lot on my ball speed.”
As the 6-foot-1, 160-pounder continues to gain experience and size – Brin is projected to reach 6-3 or 6-4 in height – look for more big things in the future at the varsity level and beyond.
Playing with many of the same teammates he was with last season, Brin is eyeing another District title as a freshman. “I have a lot of expectations for this season,” he said. “I think we’re going to do really well. We have a big team and the goal is just to win as many ballgames as we can. Personally, I would like to throw more touchdowns. I’m not really a running quarterback, so that’s something I’d like to work on and improve on.”
As he continues training with NFA, Brin should achieve his goal of playing varsity football as a sophomore. “I’ve been going to NFA camps for almost three years and they’ve really helped me with my mechanics,” Brin said. “I feel like it’s all starting to come together and I’m cracking the code a little bit. And with the leadership qualities I’ve learned, I just feel they’ve helped me become a better quarterback.”
Ethan Fitzgerald making big strides in Texas
While he stands 6-foot-2 and already has the physical attributes of an experienced varsity quarterback, Ethan Fitzgerald is still growing at the key position.
As the starting freshman QB for Boerne-Samuel V. Champion High School in Texas this season, Fitzgerald led the Chargers to a 6-3 record and passed for 6 touchdowns while running for 2 more scores while rushing for over 100 yards in two games.
“I was most happy with how we came out and played real hard and never stopped trying,” said Fitzgerald, who has been playing football since third grade. “And as the season progressed, I felt like my individual play got a lot better, so I’m happy with that too. Playing quarterback, it’s where I want to be because I can help lead the team.”
Fitzgerald got a double shot of confidence following his eighth grade season. During spring workouts, the Boerne-Champion High School coaches came over to watch the incoming freshmen and offensive coordinator J.D. Zimmerhanzel immediately took notice of Fitzgerald and his polished mechanics.
Stepping up in NFA showcase
Over the summer, Fitzgerald attended the Duel of the Dozens in Ohio, an NFA showcase event. Going up against talented quarterbacks from all over the country and Canada, Fitzgerald finished third among competitors headed into ninth grade.
“I went to the Duel after my seventh grade season and didn’t place,” Fitzgerald said. “There were a lot of people there watching, and there was a lot of really good competition. To be honest, I was kind of nervous and I think that affected my performance. To go back this past summer and finish third in the Duel, it really gave me a lot of confidence.”
Look for Fitzgerald to keep growing, both in size and experience. He was typically the tallest player on the field this season and he exploited the height advantage. “Just being able to see over the line and find open receivers, being tall is a big help,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t have to really worry much about having passes being knocked down by the defense.”
As for his mechanics, Fitzgerald gives big credit to all of the NFA camps he’s attended the past four years. “They helped me with a lot of my pre-snap reads, after-snap reads and my gap escapes,” he said. “And I’ve used a lot of what I’ve learned from them to work on my post reads, and Type 1, 2 and 3 throws. They’ve really helped me out a lot.”
As he heads into his sophomore season, Fitzgerald’s goal is to not only suit up with the varsity at Boerne-Champion, but also be the starting QB. “It would be great to be on varsity, but I’d love to start,” he said. “I’m going to work hard, try to gain weight and work extra hard on my passing. Just from doing well at the Duel and my freshman season, it boosted my confidence.”
Though only entering his junior season of high school, Springtown (TX) quarterback Colby Moore is garnering attention as a player to be excited about. The 6’1, 195-pounder logged meaningful game time as a sophomore, topping 1,300 yards along the way and throwing for 228 yards in a 53-37 win over Trophy Club Byron Nelson.
The starting job will be solely Moore’s when the 2012 season kicks off, and he’ll have a number of offensive weapons to take advantage of. Bryson Burtnett is a 6’5 TE/DE that has already committed to nearby TCU but will first be catching throws from the up-and-coming Moore. The Porcupines’ leading rusher in 2011, Tyler Robertson, will also be back for coach Brad Turner’s spread offense.
Speaking of TCU, head coach Gary Patterson’s team may just be the glue that binds.
Moore recently worked out for a number of football programs in Texas, including TCU, Baylor and Texas A&M in hopes of getting his name out to some rising power players of college football. All three schools have recently lost top-tier quarterbacks: Andy Dalton in 2011, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill in 2012.
Moore felt most comfortable with the Horned Frogs and Aggies, speaking most in-depth with the latter. By the time he finishes his senior season at Springtown and is ready to be a starter in college, the cycle will have repeated and these schools will be ready for a player of his caliber.
Not only from a passing standpoint, but from a rushing one as well.
Moore’s size allows him the strength necessary to accurately pass downfield, while his agility and speed allow him to crack lax defenses with his own two feet. In either approach, opposing teams must respect the talent he brings. The staff at NFA has high hopes for Moore’s 2012 season, and his continued development this offseason should have him ready to deliver memorable performances for the Porcupines once again.
Link to Colby’s Film: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/467349/highlights/8043387
Texas is a state where there are 3 seasons. Fall=Football, Spring=Spring Practice and Summer=preparations for Football. NFA has in invaded Texas and big things are happening!
The recent Camp held in Dallas was outstanding. The highlight of the Camp was seeing the WHOLE TEAM from the Dawson Middle School Dragons attend the camp. The Dallas Camp must have helped, because on March 5th the Dragons entered the Primetime 7 on 7 Tournament and ……. BROUGHT BACK THE CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHEY! They were led by rocket armed 7th grade QB Lindell Stone. The dragons are made up of: First Row – AJ Van den Dyssel, Blaise Sherrill, Corey Dotson, Nick Donfris & Carson Green. Second Row – Joe De Vincenzo, Jackson Davis, Parker Ensch, Lindell Stone, Coach Larry Smeby, Cole Carter & Jack Johansson.
The Dragons are one of Two Middle Schools that feed into National High School Powerhouse: Southlake Carroll.
Congratulations from the NFA Staff to the Dawson Middle School Dragons! Keep Getting 2-0!
Wouldn’t it be awesome to see your team featured on Get 2-0? Well grab your teammates and get them signed up for a camp near you asap! IF YOU WANT TO BE A CHAMP, YOU HAVE TO GET TO CAMP!
We are coming to your area.. Did you sign up yet?
Christopher Alan Zook Jr, remember that name! He’s a member of the HSFL located in Houston, Texas. The HSFL is a unique league that promotes character building for young men during their spring semester of middle school. This year for the Texans Zook amassed over 1600 yards total offense and accounted for 23 touchdowns. When watching the film you will notice the athleticism and talent rarely seen for a 14 year old. Not only a talented Quarterback, Chris is also a very good Free safety and a great young man. DSQA is proud to have Zook a part of the QB fraternity. After completing the 2009 HSFL season, Chris was voted MVP of the league and stands a great chance to compete in the US Army All American Game for the second year in a row.