It’s nice to go into training camp with an established quarterback already in place. That was the case, for example, for the Riverhead High School football team the past two years with Cristian Pace, who has since graduated.
Then again, competition is a good thing, too. Coaches love competition.
“Competition brings out the best in everybody, so it’s always good to have competition,” said coach Leif Shay.
And that’s just what his Blue Waves have — an open quarterback competition. It’s a friendly one, too. Senior David Squires and junior C.J. Dorr are longtime friends, and now competitors.
“Right now it’s an open competition between those two kids for the starting quarterback,” Shay said before Friday afternoon’s practice. “C.J. has better fundamental footwork right now; David is more of a gamer right now, so it’s hard to say how it’s going to go.”
Squires, who played wide receiver last year, is now throwing passes instead of catching them. His junior season was cut short when he fractured his left fibula in the third game of the season against Sachem East. “I ran a slant route and I jumped up and I went to get the ball and I just came down on it weird, I guess,” he said.
Squires said he was devastated. “I was like heartbroken because I put in so much work over that summer,” he said. “That kind of just fueled me for this year. I was like, ‘Alright, it’s time to go to work.’ ”
Shay caught Squires by surprise this year when he told him he was going to be a quarterback.
Dorr was the junior varsity quarterback last year, but he had a valuable game and a half of experience at the varsity level to help him adjust to varsity speed and varsity size.
It looks like Riverhead will go from one quarterback with running ability to another, whether it be Squires or Dorr.
“I just like to think of myself as a well-rounded quarterback,” Squires said. “I’m not trying to say that I’m amazing or anything because everyone has improvements, but I’m pretty quick, so bootlegs from options, stuff like that might work well this year.”
Speaking of bootlegs, Dorr loves them. Absolutely loves them.
“I’m a big fan of the boot,” he said. “I love the boot because it gets me out of the pocket and it’s the run option and then I got the pass option. If I don’t have anything open with the pass, I have the opportunity to run it and gain like five yards or so.”
The two quarterbacks may have more in common than differences. The 5-11 Squires said as much. “I mean, well, we’re kind of similar,” he said. “It’s more just like physique differences. I’m a few inches taller than him, but we pretty much have the same style.”
So, what does Shay look for in a quarterback?
“Personally, I like an athletic kid to be quarterback because we roll out a lot with him,” he said. “I like him to be accurate, but I think the most important thing is I like him to have a thick skin. I want him to be able to not be afraid to throw an interception. This is high school football. You’re going to throw a lot of interceptions. It’s the next pass that’s the most important thing.”
A third quarterback in the mix is Ethan Aube, a senior who transferred from Bishop McGann-Mercy last year.
Shay said a good deal of weight will be placed on scrimmage evaluations. When will the quarterback issue be settled?
“In an ideal world you want it settled immediately, but that’s not necessarily going to happen,” Shay said. “We’re hoping to have everything shaped out by the end of [this] week.”
It’s a competition, but it’s a friendly competition. The two QBs are helping make each other better.
“I always him questions,” Dorr said. “He always asks me questions.”
Squires indicated that whoever wins the competition, their friendship will endure.
“I love competing and he does, too,” Squires said. “I mean, I’ll always be there for him, whoever the starter is.”
Photo caption: C.J. Dorr, last year’s junior varsity quarterback, has a valuable game and a half of experience at the varsity level. (Credit: Bob Liepa)