Two arms, one goal

Published 3:10 pm Friday, August 8, 2014



Complementary athletes to operate customized Panthers offense

PINETOWN — Having two quarterbacks worthy of the starting job on a high school football team is a great problem to have.

Unless there’s a distinct separation in skillset, typically, coaches will look to the veteran of the bunch — the player with seniority and experience at the position — to command the offense, while the underclassman or backup learns the scheme through an auxiliary coaching role. In most cases, having a regular starting quarterback provides the rest of the starters with uniformity.

Head coach Keith Boyd is going with a different angle in 2014, avoiding the cliché preseason competition and going with a dual quarterback set. The pair of senior field generals, Noel Howson and Jordan Woolard, will compliment each other in the offense, one that cannot be described in just one or two words. SPORTS_Two arms, one goal2 copy

“We grab different packages, I guess if you wanted to say, we’re more of broken power-I,” Boyd said. “We look like an ‘I’ back field and we take our wing and move him around like a power blocker. Then, we also like to break it out and do some trips. If I had to say, we’re more of an Army-Navy read option, built on the run with play action thrown in.”

Whether it’s a triple option, a bootleg or simple screen, the Panthers’ power-run offense will operate and depend on senior running back Rockne Butler, but the pressure will fall on Howson and Woolard to operate a diverse scheme and, most importantly, limit mistakes. And both QBs seem to fit that framework, thus far.

Howson spent most of last season at receiver, while also taking some snaps behind starting quarterback Malik Slade.

A pure athlete accustomed to running routes, he has the ability scramble and, according to Boyd, the aptitude to command a customized offense. His game is built on speed and accuracy.

Woolard, who transferred from Washington, received limited playing time with the Pam Pack, but will assume the most critical of roles in his new offense.

“He’s really going to help our passing game,” said Boyd. “He’s always been in a different system. We’re going to throw it some, but it’s nice to have that guy that can come in whenever we need that type of game and open it up a little bit. Once he gets comfortable with what we do, we’re looking forward to having him.”

Woolard brings athleticism and versatility to the table, as well as above-average arm strength, adding a deep ball threat to Northside’s arsenal.

Primarily, Woolard and Howson will work alongside the tailback Butler, senior wingback Patrick Moore and sophomore fullback James Barrow.

The offense is unsystematic, the quarterback situation unconventional, but the team’s confidence is high and the goal unchanged. Boyd expects his team, specifically his senior class, to continue its steady improvement, propel the Panthers’ to their first winning season in a decade and compete for the top spot in the Coastal Plains Conference.

With new faces like Woolard and receiver Dalton Etheridge, combined with a veteran core of seniors, Northside believes it can contend in 2014.

“I’ve seen great leadership from a lot of different people at different times,” Boyd said. “I can’t say that one person jumped in initially, but it’s nice to have four or five guys that step up if they see something. One minute it’ll be Kermani Slade, one minute it’ll be Dalton Etheridge. All of them are kind of finding their way, which is a whole lot better than having one leader.”