Teams across Berkshire County will need to adjust to having a new voice in the huddle this season, as six of the nine county teams are breaking in a new starting quarterback.
Only Taconic, Wahconah and McCann Tech have returning starters at quarterback, and only Wahconah's Will Genaway and Taconic's Jake McNeice started the entire season — McCann's Mike Ferrara replaced opening-day starter Nick Lincoln midway through the season. At Hoosac Valley, Lee and Mount Greylock, the teams must replace decorated multi-year starters in Matt Koperniak, Cam Abderhalden and Brodie Altiere, respectively. Having continuity at the position allows teams to get on the same page earlier in camp and really nail down the playbook. Conversely, teams with new signal callers must begin with the basics.
"It's a process," Lee coach Keith Thomson said. "Any time you've had the same quarterback for three years, there's a certain level of comfort with the playbook and how he interacts with his teammates. ... Any time you start with a new guy you're starting over."
Not only are nuanced things such as the cadence at the line of scrimmage, or how quickly the quarterback can relay the plays in the huddle different, but some coaches must fit their styles of play to their quarterbacks, as well. Altiere was a traditional, strong-armed, drop-back style quarterback capable of making plays down the field. Incumbent starter Michael Wellspeak, a sophomore, is more mobile, but without the arm strength of his predecessor. The sophomore showed off his scrambling ability while impersonating Abderhalden as the scout team quarterback last season, and now it's up to Greylock coach Andrew Agostini to utilize Wellspeak's dual-threat abilities.
"He has a different skillset than Brodie," Agostini said. "He's a much better runner and looks to run, so obviously the offense will change a bit. But he knows he has so many good dudes around him to work with, that it doesn't have to be all him."
Homer Winston brings a similar skillset to Abderhalden, and Pittsfield's Tyrell Boire may add even more speed to Pittsfield's option attack than former starter Kolbe Muzzy. Monument Mountain will need to find a replacement for play-making quarterback Branden Perry, and Drury will also have a new operator of its spread offense with the graduation of Kody Crosier. Hoosac's J.P. Levesque has to knock off the rust after missing last football season with a knee injury.
Every coach expressed confidence in their new starters' ability to get the job done, stressing the fact that it's a team game and quarterbacks must rely on their teammates to make plays. However, until they're placed in an actual game, it's hard to determine how they'll respond. Having experience under center gives the entire team confidence.
"It's huge because that is the captain of your offense, your engine. He's the one the kids get confidence from," Wahconah coach Gary Campbell Jr. said. "When you have a signal caller coming back and he's as quality as Will is, it lifts everybody around him.
"Everybody wants to play better on the line, the backs want to run harder, the receivers know that the balls going to come out and it's going to hit them, so they work harder in practice to catch the ball."
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252