No position on the football field gets more attention than quarterback.
That has been true ever since teams started throwing the football, and you sure can’t do that successfully without a really good quarterback. That’s why a big question going into this season was “Who shows out at quarterback?”
Last year’s top area high school quarterbacks were Decatur Heritage’s Brayden Kyle and Hartselle’s JT Blackwood. Both were Daily Player of the Year selections, Kyle in 1A-4A and Blackwood in 5A-7A.
Kyle was also the state’s Class 1A Back of the Year after throwing for 2,855 yards and 39 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,550 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Blackwood was an honorable mention All-State selection. He threw for 2,180 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also rushed for six touchdowns.
Last year there was a wide separation between the numbers of Kyle and Blackwood and the rest of the field. This season it’s a wide open competition with a lot of good candidates all with close numbers.
Decatur Heritage (3-2) has another good one in senior Bo Solley. He’s the first in the area to break 1,000 yards passing. He’s completed 53 of 93 for 1,027 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Hartselle (5-0) also has another good one in senior Jack Smith. The lefty has completed 77 of 112 for 992 yards and nine touchdowns.
Decatur (5-0) has senior Ellis Dickman in the hunt, too. He’s 62 of 110 with 926 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Tanner (3-2) has junior Karl Parham, who has not thrown the ball as much as the other three with just 40 of 78 attempts for 841 yards, but he leads the area with 13 touchdown passes.
Athens sophomore Brogan Gross has completed 53 of 81 for 866 yards and 10 touchdowns. Falkville senior Caden Burnett is 61 of 105 for 775 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Other quarterbacks to watch for are seniors Caden Childers at Brewer (3-2) and Colin Patterson at West Limestone (3-2). Austin's offense is led by senior quarterback De'Air Young, who has nearly 900 yards of combined offense running and passing and 10 touchdowns.
West Morgan with Braxton Peters and Priceville with Jackson Prickett don’t throw the ball much, but both quarterbacks have the most important numbers on their resumes. Their teams are a perfect 5-0 at the halfway point of the season.
• Now let’s flip to the defensive side of the football. Defense is a big reason for Priceville’s undefeated season. The Bulldogs have shut out their last three opponents while giving up just 55 points in five games. Fairview scored 47 of the 55 points, but Priceville scored 54 that night to take the win.
According to ahsfhs.org, Priceville now has 10 shutouts in 21 seasons of football. That ties for the lowest number by area schools. Decatur Heritage has 10, but in just 13 seasons.
West Morgan has two shutouts this season and 57 in 71 seasons.
Decatur leads the area with 246 shutouts in 104 seasons. Hartselle has 208 in 107 seasons. Athens has 203 in 116.
Four other programs have more than 100 shutouts: Lawrence County with 181 in 108 seasons, Falkville with 147 in 99, Tanner with 125 in 75 and Ardmore with 115 in 90.
• If you ever wanted to use scores to compare programs that meet during the season, there’s an interesting situation this season.
Decatur Heritage plays New Hope on Friday. Priceville beat New Hope, 40-0, last Friday. So by comparing scores there’s a way to compare Decatur Heritage vs. Priceville.
Priceville plays at Scottsboro on Friday. Decatur plays at Scottsboro on Oct. 28. There’s the opportunity to compare Priceville vs. Decatur and even Decatur Heritage.