It was a huge game for Mount Baker High School. On Nov. 3, the Mountaineers played King’s High School with a playoff berth on the line.
The winning school advanced. The loser went home.
Kaleb Bass is the starting quarterback for Mount Baker, and the 5-foot-10, 165-pound junior guided the Mountaineers to a resounding 45-14 win over King’s. Bass passed for 175 yards and 3 touchdowns and ran for another score as the Deming, Washington based school advanced to the postseason for the sixth straight year.
“We have done well the past few years,” Bass said.
In his second season as the varsity starting QB, Bass has done very well guiding the Mount Baker offense. He gives big credit to Coach J.C. Boice and NFA.
Bass has been training with Boice and NFA in the Seattle area for three years.
“I’m really happy with the progression I’ve made from my sophomore season to this season,” Bass said.
“I worked with J.C. a lot this summer and I’ve been really happy with what he’s taught me. Going through the progressions has really helped me as a quarterback. I’ve thrown the ball a lot better, carrying out fakes and using his technique to help me and my team get better.”
Bass received his first Duel invite at NFA’s Seattle camp earlier this year, and he finished third among incoming juniors after making the long trip to Atlanta.
“Doing well at the Duel helped me feel confident,” Bass said. “There were a lot of great quarterbacks that were there. To come in third just helps you realize how good you are at that time, how good you are overall and how much better you can be.”
Bass also plays basketball and baseball, and he hurt his calf playing basketball right before the Duel. “If you can, you play through it,” Bass said. “You’re playing for your team so sometimes you have to play hurt.”
Bass has been playing quarterback since he was in the second grade, starting at the flag level. “My older brother (Seth) was a quarterback and I loved watching him play,” he said. “It made me want to play quarterback. There’s a lot of decision making and that’s something I really enjoy doing.”
Bass gives NFA a lot of credit for helping him grow as a QB and start for the varsity as a sophomore. “NFA has helped me tremendously,” he said. “All of the stuff I didn’t know, they taught me. Now I’m actually taking all the things I’ve learned and helping teach the younger quarterbacks.”
When you put the work in, good things usually happen. JeKobe Coleman is a prime example.
Getting after it on the football field and in the classroom is paying off big for the sophomore honor student, who is the starting quarterback at Fayette County High School in Fayetteville, Ga.
“I’m just trying to keep it up,” said the humble 15-year-old. “And I want to do even better.”
That’s setting a pretty high bar, considering the success Coleman enjoyed this season, his first with the Tigers’ varsity team.
Heading into the summer camp, Fayette County H.S. had a returning senior and junior competing for the starting QB job. Coleman quickly zipped up the depth chart, and the 6-foot, 160-pounder passed for nearly 800 yards and 7 touchdowns in his first 9 games.
“Heading into the season, we were all competing and I had to win the job,” Coleman said. “I was humble but I was confident because I know what type of work I put in.”
In addition to training with QBA, Coleman put in more time trying to improve his game. “I trained four or five days a week, working on my craft.”
Starting at the varsity level as a sophomore is difficult. Playing quarterback is even more challenging, but Coleman has handled himself very well.
“The speed of the game is faster, so that’s been the biggest adjustment,” he said. “My job is to provide leadership and make sure my team stays level-headed. Playing quarterback, you have to be able to be the thermostat of the team.”
NFA is well known for teaching QBs to keep the temperature at “68 and breezy,” and Coleman has learned that lesson very well. Training with QBA has also aided his rapid development.
“NFA has helped me a lot, especially learning to read the defense quicker,” Coleman said.
Qualifying for his first Duel at a camp in Atlanta, Coleman placed fourth among incoming sophomores at NFA’s showcase competition in July. “I really went in just wanting to have fun and learn some new things,” he said. “I was happy finishing fourth, but there were a couple of throws I felt like I could have done better and earned more points. But I feel like it was a good experience.”
Coleman has earned Offensive Player of the Week honors from Elite Georgia Recruits and he was voted Student Athlete of the Week. He’s also received an invitation to play in the All-American Bowl in New Orleans.
“It means a lot to be rewarded like that with all of the work that I’ve put in,” Coleman said. “I just have to continue to keep on working.”
As an eighth grader at Ni River Middle School in Spotsylvania, Va., in 2016, Charles Mutter III was back at quarterback, but it was his first season playing tackle football after beginning his career at the flag level.
“It was different with the pads on,” he said. “A lot different.”
At the end of the season, Mutter was blunt about he performance. “It was a little shaky,” he said. “I wasn’t happy. And I wasn’t training with NFA at the time so I didn’t really know how to ready defenses. I didn’t know about formations, and my mechanics were terrible.”
With help from local friend Madden Lowe, who has been training with QBA for four years, Mutter decided to get more serious about the game. He attended his first camp in March and was immmediately motivated by QBA President/Founder Darin Slack.
“QBA, they kind of woke me up,” Mutter said. “I learned plays, worked on my mechanics and really improved my arm strength. They helped me out a lot.”
Mutter dedicated himself to becoming the best QB possible, practicing multiple times a week after intially training with QBA in Charlotte. He attended two more camps and also began CrossFit training to build strength and endurance.
As he prepared for his freshman season at Riverbend High School, Mutter was a vastly improved quarterback. “I’m really happy,” he said.
Mutter received an invite to the Duel in July, and he wound up placing third among incoming freshmen.
“Madden talked a lot about QBA and the Duel,” Mutter said. “I knew how good he was, he had the mechanics and everything else. Going into the Duel, I didn’t know how I was going to to do. I had really dedicated myself to getting better, so I put 100 percent effort into it and was hoping to finish in the Top 5.”
He accomplished that goal, and he also competed in the Team USA National Development Games at Arlington, Texas this summer.
The next challenge for Mutter was lining up as the starting JV quarterback at Riverbend H.S. Lowe is the Bears’ varsity starter at QB, with Mutter waiting in the wings.
“I’m pretty confident now,” Mutter said. “I feel confident as a quarterback and I’m going to try to lead my JV team even though I’m a freshman and they’re mostly juniors and sophomores. I’m going to try to lead. We don’t have a championship game at the JV level, but I want to help my teammates reach their potential. I’m also on the scout offense for the varsity defense, so I want to do the best I can to help the varsity defense reach their top potential.”
Mutter had a standout JV season for the Bears, throwing for over 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also rushed for over 500 yards.
Heading into his football season with the Mint Hill Panthers in North Carolina, Zach Lawrence was understandably confident.
In July, the 5-foot-5, 120-pounder competed at the Duel and finished first among a talented pack of incoming sixth graders.
“Winning the Duel has made me a more humble person, not only in football, but in life,” Lawrence said. “It has boosted my confidence in all that I do. Winning the Duel also proved to me that I can set high goals for myself and achieve them.”
Lawrence qualified for the Duel last March during a camp at Rocky River High School in Charlotte, N.C.
“After the Duel, I knew that I could make all of my throws and my coaches also trusted me to make them, too,” he said.
Already in his fifth year of playing quarterback, Lawrence guided the Panthers to a 6-3 record. He passed for 1,037 yards and 15 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions. He also rushed for 53 yards and converted 2 extra points.
“I’m happy that I put my receivers in position to make plays and score touchdowns,” Lawrence said. “I’m also happy about how close our team was and how we were able to win games.”
With a perfect 4.0 grade point average, Lawrence is also winning in the classroom. “The discipline, problem solving skills and attention to detail in school are also traits that are applicable to quarterbacks,” he said.
Training with QBA for the past four years has helped Lawrence grow into one of the top sixth grade QBs in the nation. “QBA taught me everything about my throwing motion, my drops, all about reading coverages and the decision making process,” he said.
As his passing yardage from the season shows, Lawrence is already a gifted passer. “My strengths are throwing accuracy and ball placement,” he said. “Reading coverages, moving in the pocket, getting away from the rush, taking hits and never giving up. I like leading the team and running the offense. I also really enjoy throwing the ball.”
As his playing career progresses, Lawrence still sees some aspects of his game that can get better. “I’m working to improve my speed and to increase my throwing distance,” he said.
Xavier Tremblay continues to excel north of the border.
The sophomore quarterback from Quebec led his team, Loups Curé-Antoine Labelle, to a 7-2 record in the regular season and a spot in the “Bol d’Or” championship game.
“Every week, my team and I became stronger,” Tremblay said. “We all worked hard as a team to surpass our goals and prove to ourselves that we can win the championship.”
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder is a big reason Loups Curé-Antoine Labelle made it to the title game.
In the regular season, Tremblay completed 183 of 274 passes for a staggering 2,969 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also rushed for 3 TDs and threw only 6 interceptions.
This is the eighth season Tremblay has played quarterback, and he continues to excel under center. “I love the position,” Tremblay said. “Playing quarterback is a great personal challenge for me. I love the rush of having to react to the game in front of me and deciding what to do with the football. It’s a very exciting feeling.”
Tremblay was very excited to get another Duel invitation this year, at a QBA camp in Montreal. He placed third among incoming sophomores in July at QBA’s international competition in Atlanta.
“Being able to participate in the Duel is a personal goal of mine,” Tremblay said. “The competition helps us all learn a lot of the technical side and mental side of our games. We all come out of the Duel with better confidence in ourselves and that resonates positively throughout the season.”
In addition to competing in the Duel, Tremblay has improved his technical and mental sides by training with the Quarterback Academy for the last three years. “During the summer, I was lucky enough to participate in many QBA camps,” he said. “That helped me improve my game immensely. My technical skills became sharper and my game became stronger and that helped me throughout this season.”
While he had a monster season for Loups Curé-Antoine Labelle this year and was his team’s MVP in 2016, Tremblay is far from being completely satisfied with his game. “I want to become a more well-rounded player,” he said. “I want to improve my technical skills, my game strategies and my ability to read the defense in front of me.”
A solid QB on the football field, Tremblay is also a successful student at Curé-Antoine Labelle in Laval, Quebec. “It is very important to perform in school,” he said. “My parents support me in my studies and that is very important for them. I am happy that I am doing very well in school this year.”
A seventh grader at I.S. 201 Dyker Heights Intermediate School in New York City, Vincent Cajano III is on the Principal’s List, which is reserved for students with an average score of 95 and above.
He is a solid performer in the classroom, and Cajano is equally adept on the football field. “School helps me in many different aspects of football, and it helps me understand the game as a whole,” he said. “It helps me break down and decipher different defenses. I’m very focused in school and on the football field.”
The focus under center was evident this season. While quarterbacking the Seminoles to a 6-4 record in the competitive Staten Island Boys Football League, Cajano completed 52 of 95 passes (55 percent) for 1,292 yards. He had 23 touchdown passes and only 5 interceptions.
“I had a great season all around with my new teammates,” Cajano said. “As a new team, I am happy with how we had both a respectable running game and a very good passing game with great wide receivers, a great running back, fullback and offensive line.”
This is the second season Cajano has quarterbacked the Seminoles. “I’m happiest with how if I was pressured, I was able to get away and could hit my receivers anywhere they were on the football field,” he said. “My strength as a QB is in the pocket, slinging the football and escaping the pocket pressure. I like the intensity and the role that I have as a QB, and I love learning more and picking apart defenses. When I’m on the run, I feel I could do better. I’m going to work on my athleticism to be more of a dual threat.”
Cajano has been putting in the work with QBA for five years, and it’s paid off big time. “The Quarterback Academy has helped me in every aspect of being a QB, from passing mechanics to handing off the football to reading defenses,” he said.
After winning the Duel before his sixth grade season, Cajano received an invite to this year’s QBA showcase competition at a camp in Orlando. He finished third among incoming seventh graders.
“At this year’s Duel, I feel I could have done better on some passes but overall I did my best and had a fun time,” Cajano said. “The Duel definitely boosted my confidence for this football season because it showed I could hang with the best and throw the football to any window.”
After finishing in fifth place in the 2016 Duel, Shea Lucky Lynch was happy but not completely satisfied.
“I was excited to place fifth, but now I am driven to do better and get another chance to compete in the Duel,” he said.
Now a seventh grader at Higgins Middle School in Peabody, Mass., Lynch received another Duel invite this year in March at a Quarterback Academy camp in Boston, and he finished in second place.
“Placing second in the Duel this year was a big accomplishment for me,” Lynch said. “Coming off the fifth-place finish the year before, I have learned how to compete with some of the best QB’s in the country. It showed me that I can compete on a high level with some great quarterbacks. If I keep working hard, serving my teammates and giving a great effort, I can continue to improve.”
Playing quarterback for the Peabody Tanners-Gladiators Blue in the Northeast Conference Youth Football League this season, Lynch completed 23 of 54 passes for 230 yards and 1 touchdown.
“As a team, we were able to keep our heads up and fight in some tough games and through a tough season,” he said. “As a player, I am happy how I was able to adjust from being the only quarterback to splitting time with another QB. We installed a new offense this year so I was able to work on under center drops, play action and commanding the huddle.”
Lynch has been playing quarterback since he was 6 years old, and he’s shown steady improvement on the field and at the Duel. “I like being able to control the tempo of the game, being a leader on the team, commanding the offense and having the ball in my hands on every play,” he said. “My strengths as a quarterback are play-action passes and throwing on rhythm. I’m working to improve my throwing on the run and consistently being able to have good timing on my 3- and 5-step drops.”
Training with QBA the last five years has helped Lynch fortify his strengths and improve his weaknesses. “QBA has helped me learn to be a better quarterback and be a better leader for my team,” he said. “Serving others on and off the field is something that I feel helps me, not only in football but also in school and family life.”
Lynch is a straight-A student at Higgins Middle School. “I believe being focused in school and achieving high honors carries over to the football field,” he said.
For a sixth grade quarterback, Shaker Reisig has already compiled quite a resume.
In 2016, he won his first trip to the Duel Quarterback Competition and went on to have a standout season with the Rush-Henrietta Junior Comets in the Rochester (N.Y.) Youth Football League.
This year, Reisig received another Duel invitation, and he finished second among incoming sixth graders at Quarterback Academy’s international competition in Atlanta. “I feel that second place is great, but I could have done better on hitting the targets,” he said. “But getting into the Top 5 in the Duel, just making it into the Duel, boosted my confidence going into the season.”
This season, Reisig is playing for the Ogden Bears, and he quarterbacked his team to an 8-0 record and spot in the regional playoffs. “We have the opportunity to go to Disney for the finals,” Reisig said. “My goal heading into the season was to become a leader on a new team, a team that I have never played with before. I am happy about going undefeated and personally, I’m happy with throwing 3 touchdown passes. We are mainly a ground game team.”
As a sixth grader at Cal-Mum Elementary School in New York, Reisig has also distinguished himself in the classroom. He’s an honor roll student.
“Some mornings before I go to school, my dad (Aron) reminds me to pay attention in school,” Reisig said. “He tells me school is my football practice. I have to do a lot of studying and school work outside of school to stay on the honor roll. I also do a lot of quarterback training when the football season is over to make sure I am well prepared for when the season comes. Extra training and school doesn’t give me a lot of free time with friends and other activities, but I am starting to see it pay off and it is well worth the effort.”
Training with QBA the last two years has also paid off for Reisig, who is wrapping up his sixth season as a Quarterback.
“This year, I went to Quarterback Academy events in Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, New England and the Duel in Georgia,” said Reisig, who received his Duel invite at a Phoenix camp. “I look forward to starting again. NFA has taught me a higher level of QB mechanics and off the field training. My local quarterback coach and I are on the same page with QBA procedures. I love going to QBA events, and all the coaches I have dealt with are great.
“I would like to give special thanks to Coach JC Boice for all the help and encouragement I receive when I am at one of his camps,” Reisig added. “I would also like to thank Coach Jonny Ulibarri for working with me before the Jenks (Okla.) camp. He is great to work with and very patient.”
While he has accomplished so much so soon, Reisig knows there is still plenty of room to improve. “I can accurately throw about 30 yards and with fast receivers, that makes it fun,” he said. “I am working on having my front foot planted before I break and start the J-path motion. And I’m working to stop getting down on myself after a bad play. I am learning to let things go and focus on the plays ahead to keep things going positively.”
On the football field and in the classroom, Riley Trujillo is an accelerated performer.
A sixth grader at Patriot Oaks Academy in St. Johns, Fla., Trujillo helped the Creek Outlaws go undefeated and reach the Southeast Regional championship game in 2016. This season, his Outlaws team mixed in numerous new players and went 7-1 while advancing to the city championship.
“My goal this season was to make it to the city championship and have the opportunity to play in the Jacksonville Jaguars Stadium,” Trujillo said. “I am happy that we made it to the city championship and were able to have the experience of playing at the Jacksonville Jaguars Stadium. I feel that as a team we came together and welcomed the new members. The returning players set high expectations and were established role models for the new players.”
Playing quarterback for the Outlaws, Trujillo passed for 7 touchdowns and added 10 more rushing scores.
He has the distinction of being a named second-team All American for Pop Warner Scholar Athletes. A straight-A student, Trujillo has also achieved the Presidential Academic Award.
“School develops critical thinking skills and problem solving skills, which are necessary to interpreting and executing plays on the football field,” he said.
Before the season started, Trujillo received an invite to the Duel and finished fourth among incoming sixth graders. He qualified for QBA’s showcase event in Orlando.
“I am proud of my success at the Duel, but I think I could have done better,” Trujillo said. “I will continue to work harder.”
Training with QBA for the past year has helped Trujillo’s development as a quarterback. “I have learned mechanics and footwork,” he said. “And QBA has helped
me to learn to read the defense better and making smarter decisions with the ball.”
Having already played QB for seven years, Trujillo is advanced for his age. But he is far from satisfied. “I am happy with the strength and accuracy of my throws,” he said. “But I need to improve my speed and I’m also working on improving my agility.”
Given his skill and smarts, Trujillo is certain to continue tracking upward at a position he loves playing. “I have fun when I play,” he said. “I enjoy the pressure of a close game and bringing my team back to a win.”
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.”
In the five years he’s been training with QBA, a few specifics really stand out for Peyton Rottinghaus.
“The QBA coaches have taught me a lot over the years,” he said. “A couple items that stick out are the proper mechanics that are taught. Second, I have been taught by the QBA coaches to work hard every day in school and on the football field. In school, work hard and give great effort in the classroom and this will lead to good performance on the football field to earn my position as quarterback.”
All the hard work is paying off big time for Rottinghaus, a seventh grader at Summit Middle School in Johnston, Iowa.
When his football team opened the season with three straight losses, Rottinghaus and the Johnston Dragons remained focused, kept working and won the final three games on the schedule. “We got off to a rough start as a team, then won three games in a row and improved in all areas of the game as a team,” Rottinghaus said.
In six games quarterbacking the Dragons, he passed for 708 yards and 10 touchdowns. Rottinghaus was particularly pleased he only threw 4 interceptions.
“As an individual, I reduced my interceptions compared to last year,” he said. “Some of my goals this season were making better defensive reads as the play is developing and extending plays with less interceptions compared to last year. I was happiest about limiting interceptions and throwing the ball away and running the ball when the passing play broke down.”
Rottinghaus has been playing QB for seven years, and he has shown impressive growth at the demanding position. “I like leading the offense and really enjoy the pressure and intensity that comes with playing quarterback,” he said. “I like to keep everyone going in a positive direction.”
Training with QBA since he was in third grade has helped Rottinghaus’ development continue to trend in a positive direction. While he is still working to improve his skills when passing plays break down, he was much more confident running the offense this season.
After qualifying for the Duel at an QBA camp in Denver, Rottinghaus placed fifth among incoming seventh graders at the international competition in Atlanta.
“My goal was to finish in the Top 5 and I accomplished that,” he said. “The Duel is a pressure event and it prepared me to lead my teammates in pressure situations in the games.”
When the football season started, Osmany Guzman had a singular focus. “I like having the opportunity to work for one goal with a group of players,” he said.
As the starting quarterback for the Allentown (Pa.) Central Catholic Mini Vikes, Guzman accomplished that goal. The Vikes were 8-1 during the Mountain Valley Youth Junior Varsity regular season and playoffs and 4-1 in scrimmage games.
Guzman, a fifth grader at Schnecksville Elementary School, had an outstanding season, passing for 1,600 yards and 24 touchdowns (only 6 interceptions) while rushing for another TD.
“I wanted to have a successful season and take full advantage playing in a spread offense,” he said. “I wanted to help bring success to an organization that opened their arms to my friends, my dad (Nguyen) and me. I’m not only happy we won our league championship, I am happy for my teammates and peers.”
In his fourth season of playing QB, Guzman continued to show impressive growth at the key position. “I like being the leader on the field and helping my teammates,” he said.
An honor roll student while taking enrichment classes, Guzman’s smarts are a plus on the football field. “School has helped me with understanding the offensive playbook and it helps me when it comes to reading defenses,” he said.
Training with QBA has also helped the promising young quarterback. “I have been training almost four years with QBA and Coach James Martinez,” Guzman said. “QBA has taught me everything I know about the QB position. They have taught me fundamentals, proper mechanics and how to conduct myself around my teammates, family members and peers.”
Receiving his first Duel invitation this year, Guzman finished second in his age group. “I felt very good about my success at Duels competition,” he said. “It made me feel that all the training and off-season strength and conditioning is worth it. It pays off.”
Guzman’s solid showing at QBA’s international competition in Atlanta paid off in his performance during the season. “I felt a lot of confidence after the Duel,” he said. “I feel like if I continue working hard, I can become a great quarterback. It also made me want to work as hard as possible to become the sixth grade champion next July.”
Guzman will be ready for the 2018 Duel, without a doubt. “I’m working to improve all my skill sets as a QB because there is always room to improve and be a better teammate,” he said.
In addition to training with QBA, Guzman plays on a travel basketball team, he plays on a year-round tournament flag football team and he’s going to play in the Junior Steelhawks arena football league. He also trains throughout the winter and spring to bolster his strength, speed and agility.
At the start of the season, Mason Maddox had one major goal. “I wanted to lead my team to our fourth championship in a row,” he said.
An eighth grader at Jim Satterfield Middle School in Hartsville, Tenn., Maddox and the Yellow Jackets fell short of that goal, going 3-4. But the season was hardly a loss for Maddox, who was voted Satterfield Middle School Athlete of the Fall in football. “I am happy with the fact that I was out on the field with my teammates knowing that any down could be my last one,” he said.
Maddox stayed healthy, and his dual skills at QB were on display for the Yellow Jackets. He rushed for 638 yards and 6 touchdowns and passed for 482 yards and 3 TDs.
“My main strength is being quick on my feet and reacting to anything that is thrown at me,” Maddox said. “I still want to improve my accuracy when I throw the ball. I want to be able to be consistent throwing passes with perfect accuracy.”
Qualifying for his first Duel at a QBA camp in Nashville, Maddox showed strong accuracy while finishing fourth among incoming eighth graders at the showcase competition in July. “I came in fourth place in the Duel, but I will always be striving for that first place,” he said. “And after that, the journey still isn’t over.”
Finishing fourth against such a strong field of quarterbacks helped Maddox heading into his season with the Yellow Jackets. “It did,” he said. “After my performance I knew if I could perform that well in a competition that important, then I could accomplish anything out on the field.”
Maddox received another big invitation, to the Bret Cooper Junior Academic All-American Bowl in Dallas on Dec. 31. He’s an honor roll student at Jim Satterfield Middle School. “I can apply leadership skills in both the classroom and on the field,” Maddox said.
Training with the Quarterback Academy the past two years has helped him on and off the field. “QBA has helped me by improving my all-around skill set, from the quickness of reacting to defenses to just throwing a football,” Maddox said. “QBA has helped me to get to where I am today.”
Maddox is in a very good spot at quarterback, a position he’s been playing since he was 6 years old. “I love the fact that everyone on the field looks up to me,” he said. “That makes me want to strive to be great whether that’s in the classroom or on the field.”
Already an experienced quarterback at a young age, Luke Knight is used to dealing with the pressures that come with playing the demanding position.
But when he arrived in Atlanta for his first Duel competition this summer and saw all of the talent from around the country, Knight had a natural reaction. “I feel I could have done better due to being nervous,” he said.
But even as he battled an expected case of nerves, Knight still managed to finish third in a very competitive group of incoming seventh graders. “I like that I placed in the Top 3,” he said. “It boosted my confidence heading into the season and it showed me I can be even better when I perform at my best.”
An honor roll student at John Long Middle School in Wesley Chapel, Fla., Knight played QB for the South Pasco Predators this season. While helping his team to a 6-2 record, he passed and ran for roughly 1,000 yards.
Reaching the regional championship was a big goal heading into the season, and Knight and the Predators reached that goal.
Knight has played quarterback for four years, and there is little doubt he’s found a home at the key position. “I am very vocal and I like to be the leader of my team,” he said. “You get to lead the team and you control the ball every play. You also get to serve your teammates the most.”
For as good as he was this season – starting with the strong showing at the Duel – Knight knows he has more work to do. “I’m working to improve my skills on reading the defense when the ball is snapped and finding the open receiver,” he said. “I’m also working on getting my arm to 90 degrees during the J-path and setting the lead foot hallway.”
Training with QBA has helped accelerate Knight’s already impressive development. He’s worked with QBA for two years, and qualified for the Duel in Orlando. “Training with QBA, I learned the proper footwork, throwing mechanics and learned the basics of reading a defense,” Knight said. “I have also started to implement the R4 system.”
Performing so well in school has helped Knight perform at a high level on the football field. “School teaches you how to handle problem solving and what to do during adversity,” he said.
Kalen Shoemaker started playing quarterback when he was in fifth grade. Looking back, he admits he wasn’t very good.
“I was just starting out and didn’t know much about football,” Shoemaker said. “I just knew I wanted to be able to throw the ball.”
Now a freshman at Legend High School in Parker, Colo., Shoemaker has come a long ways as a QB. That was quite evident in July, when he won the Duel.
“It means a lot,” Shoemaker said. “It’s a total confidence booster, to know you went to the Duel for the first time and won something you didn’t even know existed. I didn’t even know the Duel existed before I got invited to it. To win, it makes me just certain about what I can do. I’m not the tallest or strongest quarterback, so showing everybody I can play helped me a lot as a person.”
Buoyed by his success at QBA’s international competition in Atlanta, Shoemaker cruised into his season as the starting QB for Legend High School’s freshman team.
While he missed a pair of games due to injury, Shoemaker still managed to have a prolific season, passing for 2,480 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushing for nearly 900 yards in eight games. At Legend H.S., freshmen are ineligible to play varsity football.
“My goal this season was to do the best I could to start on varsity my sophomore year,” Shoemaker said. “I wanted to get noticed so I tried to play the best I could. That was my focus.”
Suffice to say, Shoemaker is playing much better now than he did back in fifth grade. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed I’ve been able to throw the ball with more touch and more control and more power,” he said. “Being able to throw the ball has gotten easier for me, being able to read the defenses has gotten easier for me. Just the overall knowledge has gotten easier for me as I’ve progressed. I would say the thing that has helped me the most is just knowing football better. My strength as a quarterback is passing, really. That’s who I am, I’m a passer. Even if it’s fourth down, I’m comfortable throwing the ball. I’m always comfortable throwing the ball.”
Training with QBA is going to make Shoemaker even more comfortable, and more effective, under center. He attended his first camp earlier this year at Legend H.S. and earned the Duel invite.
“It was the first time I had heard of QBA so I thought I would give it a try,” Shoemaker said. “What I learned at that camp, I did notice it. And I started noticing what I learned more and more.”
Shoemaker certainly was noticed during his showing at the Duel, when he finished first in a talented group of incoming freshmen. “My goal going into the Duel was just being who I am and playing how I know I can play,” he said. “People were invited from all over the country. I’m not saying … I went in thinking I’m the best passer there so I was just trying to do the best I could and show everybody what I could do.”