Hempfield quarterbacks locked in preseason battle
Hempfield football coach Rich Bowen called Monday's opening practice one of the best he's seen in 21 years.
Bowen said he liked the work his team put in on a muggy August day.
There will be interesting battles brewing on the practice field the next few weeks. Hempfield finished 4-6 in 2012 after starting the season 3-1. Injuries to key players derailed the season.
One battle to be decided in camp is at quarterback. Seniors Tyler George and De'Lorian Day are set to compete for that job. Both started games in 2012.
Trying to find capable receivers to throw to is the next problem.
Hempfield also is unveiling a different defensive scheme.
“We'll use both of them at quarterback,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said. “Both bring different things to the game. They are two excellent quarterbacks and we feel both can move the football team.
“When one isn't lining up behind center, the other could be on the field somewhere. We did that some last year.”
George is more of a drop back quarterback, who can run if needed. Day is a scrambler capable of hurting opponents with his arm and legs.
George completed 78 of 164 passes for 1,001 yards and four touchdowns last year. He rushed 88 times for 423 yards and six touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 36 yards.
“De'Lorian is a great quarterback, too,” George said. “We're both going to be used. I want to be on the field as much as possible. I'll do whatever it takes to start.”
Day led the team in rushing with 548 yards on 53 carries and six touchdowns. He completed 32 of 48 passes for 352 yards and three TDs. He also intercepted two passes.
“Ty manages the offense and can run too,” Bowen said. “De'Lorian is more of a runner, but he knows the passing game, too. Both offer the same things, just a little change up here and there.”
Day made it a point to say he was a quarterback first.
“I'm just not a runner, I can throw too,” Day said. “At practice, Ty and I are getting multiple reps and trying to work with new receivers.”
Some of the receivers the quarterbacks talked about included Dante Luther, Jay Flock, Logan Swan, Ross Welshons, Joey Hoffner, Jimmy Vaccare and Chase Logan.
Both agreed that keeping running back Joey DeFloria healthy will be key. DeFloria rushed for 418 yards and five TDs in four games a year ago. On defense, Day will play free safety and George cornerback.
Day said there is a competition with other players for most tackles, most interceptions and most plays. Junior middle linebacker Josh Kempka, who is the captain of the defense, had the most tackles in 2013. Hempfield is switching from a four-front on defense to a three.
“We're trying to get more athletes on the field,” Bowen said.
Kempka likes the switch and said the pass defense wasn't as strong last year because so many teams like to throw.
“It's going to take a few practices to learn the defense,” Kempka said. “Once we get it down, we're going to be good.”