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A quick check on the Internet showed more than 20 different wristbands that high school quarterbacks can wear now to catalog their plays.
Some peeled apart to offer multiple pages.
Obviously, what transpires just before a quarterback takes the snap is much more sophisticated these days.
A quarterback might routinely call out numbers, and colors, and bird names, and college names, and directions. And that’s just one trip to the line.
Then before the snap, he might have to wipe it all out and start again depending on the look the defense gives him.
“You can’t be the dumb kid on the team, that’s for sure,” said Columbus North quarterback Michael Vogel, who makes the first start of his career tonight at 7 p.m. against host Carmel.
Vogel, a junior, has played quarterback at lower levels for years, but it keeps getting more complicated.
“As you go through each level, you think you know it,” Vogel said. “But you don’t.”
Vogel’s coach, Tim Bless, said that his quarterbacks must have the physical talent, but the mental aspect is just as important.
“Straight intelligence and football IQ are absolutely required,” Bless said. “It’s not just about Friday nights and reading the defenses. It’s about studying during the week. It’s about knowing your personnel. Even more so, it’s about having four days to learn your opponent. Friday night success has to do more with those four days.
“And you can rewind the clock all the way back to June 4 (when preparations for the new season began). It’s about your mastery of our offense, and our personnel.”
Columbus East quarterback Alex Cowan, a junior, has just one start under his belt going into Saturday’s season-opener against Bloomington North at 4:15 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
“If I make a mistake on Saturday, it probably will be mental,” Cowan said. “I was a little nervous in our scrimmage, checking the play clock and checking out of plays.”
Even so, Cowan said East’s no-huddle offense gives him plenty of time to accomplish his tasks.
“In middle school, I used to just go with the flow, where now I have to pay attention to what the defense is doing. But I’ve been pretty prepared.”
Programs try to groom prospective quarterbacks early these days, and East coach Bob Gaddis said today’s young quarterbacks have another advantage.
“I think it is easier for these kids today because they play those NFL games on the computer,” Gaddis said. “Those are pretty good. And they watch so many tapes now. Everything is at their fingertips.”
That might be true, but Gaddis doesn’t plan on making things too difficult on Cowan in the opener against a tough opponent.
“Before Alex, the Kiel family (Dusty, Drew and Gunner) had full reign,” Gaddis said. “That’s a tough act to follow. I know that Alex is going to handle it as well as he can. But where Alex is at, he only has practiced against our defense.
“We just want him to manage the game. If we are in a bad play, we want him to get us out of it.”
Bless has a similar feeling with his quarterback.
“He doesn’t have carte blanche,” Bless said. “He’s going to have some first-year starter moments.”
Vogel expects those moments to come.
“You get a hold of things, and you learn how to prepare, but I’m still learning every day,” he said.
“I remember getting our playbook, which is 35 pages. I thought, ‘I’m never going to learn all this.’ There were so many options and so many variables.
“But it’s all based on repetition. You do it 1,000 times over the summer. It becomes second nature.”
Part of Vogel’s job will be to hurry the Bull Dogs into the huddle and then to the line so he can have that extra time to make changes if necessary.
“My job is to keep my offense under control and calm,” he said. “If I hurry the guys to the ball and get them set, then I can give them time to figure out what to do. We’re the Blue Storm, that’s what we call our offense. We go and attack and we set the pace.”
But it can be hard to attack if everyone is not on the same page.
“I have to know our offense second only to the coaches,” Vogel said.
“That’s a fact,” Bless said. “Our quarterbacks are a coach on the field. If someone is misaligned, they have to fix it. If not, it’s on the quarterback.”
Cowan has had to memorize everything without the use of a playbook. He said East doesn’t have one and that the players file everything in their head.
He must remember everything in the 25 seconds allowed between plays.
Last season, in his one start, he remembered the coaches yelling, “hurry up” at times.
“But after while, you just get the feel of it,” he said.
Gaddis isn’t worried. He said the preparation will take care of things.
“Alex is going to handle it as well as he can,” Gaddis said.
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