The quarterback position is the one of the question marks heading into the season for the Yellow Jackets this year. Starting quarterback Major Edwards graduated in the spring, leaving a void at the position.
“Major was a leader for us. He was a really unselfish kid,” said Middlesboro head coach Zach Massengill. “He led us at the first of the year. It’s hard to replace experience. He had some big game experience.”
Sophomore Chase Elliott saw significant time at quarterback last season.
“Chase got a little taste of varsity football at the end of the year,” said Massengill. “I think that will pay off for him. Hopefully we can start where we left off last season.”
Elliott saw action in six games. He came in near the end of a 27-21 loss to Union, Virginia. He went 4-5 passing with 26 yards. He also rushed for 42 yards on nine carries.
Elliott’s first varsity start came in a 36-18 loss to Lexington Christian. During that game, he went 8-18 passing with 113 yards and one touchdown. He also added two touchdowns on the ground. He had 56 yards rushing on eight carries.
During his time as a starter, Elliott went 21-43 passing with 282 yards. He ran for 431 yards on 47 carries.
With that said, Massengill says there is a battle at the quarterback position.
“It’s a competition right now,” said the coach. “All of our quarterbacks are working pretty hard. We know what Chase can do. We got to see him a little bit in action, but he’s still working and he’s got a lot to improve on as well as all of us at every position.”
Massengill said Elliott is doing what is being asked of him at a high level.
Tanner Horton and Dylan Pratt are also competing for playing time at the quarterback position. Horton has not been with the team recently due to an illness. Massengill said he has not been cleared by the doctor.
Pratt will be a new face for the team. He is listed as a senior by MaxPreps and was a backup quarterback for Alcoa.
Pratt saw some playing time for the Tornadoes last season, including an 8-yard touchdown run in a 54-13 victory over Smith County, Tennessee.
“Either way, they’re all pretty good athletes,” said Massengill. “I think they will find the field one way or the other.”
With a young receiving corps returning for the Yellow Jacket, Massengill will look toward the quarterbacks for leadership.
“They’re going to have to be patient,” said Massengill. “We’ve got a great group of athletes at the receiver position.”
The quarterbacks, as well as the team as a whole, are learning a new offense.
“We’re not as big up front, so we’re not going to be able to line up and try to just power,” said Massengill.
There are plans to spread the ball out. The offense will look similar to the veer option out of the shotgun.
“We’re going to put a lot of responsibilities on our quarterbacks to put us in good position and make good plays for us,” said Massengill. “Everything we do off this has three reads. There’s a run read, pass read and keep read.”
The coach said the quarterbacks need to get more fluid with their reads.
“They’re going to have to buckle down and study the game film, and they’ve already started studying,” said Massengill. “They have to make sure they’re making the correct reads to put us in the best position possible.”
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN