Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2007

Quarterback’s transfer leaves Scott scrambling

Plenty of decisions await as coach mulls ways to replace Morse

February 15, 2007

It's like an injury, De Soto football coach Brad Scott said.

He said through each of his seven seasons as the head Wildcat he's planned to lose key players to injury, so when his starting quarterback of two seasons, junior Jake Morse, transferred in January to Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Mo., he chalked it up as one of those injuries.

"The thing about football and a lot of sports is you're always one play away from losing someone," Scott said. "He could break his leg on a bad tackle or dislocate his shoulder. Injury is something we deal with all the time and that's how we're treating this."

No player was actually injured, it's Scott that's left dazed, however. Now he's wondering what direction his football team will take in 2007.

The bright side, he said, is that there are a lot of options at quarterback.

De Soto's run a number of distinct offenses in Scott's tenure, and now more than ever he plans to call upon those dusty playbooks and old memories.

Most recently, Morse's strong arm, field awareness and consistent stable of receivers prompted a pass-first approach.

Before that, Neil Erisman's agility and power running fueled an option attack.

"We had Michael Allen when I first started. He was a big-time 240-pound bruiser and we had a lot of big linemen, so we were in the I," Scott said. "I'd rather be a system team that knew what it was going to do year in and year out, but we're still fighting the split with numbers and we have to put our kids in positions to be successful."

Which path the Cats eventually choose will depend 100 percent on who ends up filling the big shoes. That's something that will emerge first in summer workouts and later, once fall practices really pick up, Scott said. For now, he can only consider a list of candidates.

Leading the way is Mark England, a swift sophomore likely to thrive in the same style offense that made Erisman so feared.

England collected plenty of varsity minutes in 2006 as a kick returner, a receiver and a cornerback. He spent most of his junior varsity minutes playing quarterback and played a little behind center on the varsity level, factors that may make him the quarterback-designate.

"Mark has as good of a shot at is as anyone," Scott said. "He has the most experience coming back, but at the same time, he does a good job in the open field with the ball in his hands. We've got some other people that might be able to play quarterback with Mark still playing receiver."

For those other options, Scott said he'll look both to his most experienced players, and to some of his least experienced.

Freshman Logan Clark played as a quarterback for the freshman and junior varsity squads, and Scott already turned to a sophomore once when he put Morse in the starting position two years ago.

De Soto was short of points in 2006, but long on explosive players and those athletes also provide options, Scott said.

Scott said both Erik Hill -- who as a tight end led the team with eight touchdowns -- and Shane Miller -- who scored rushing, receiving and returning kicks -- could spend their senior seasons behind center.

"We'd like to see how they'd do," Scott said. "Obviously they're not the same types of quarterback Jake was, but our philosophy is we're going to put our kids in a position to be successful and we're going to get the ball into the hands of people that can make plays."

The bottom line -- Scott's just not sure yet. Finding the new face of the De Soto football team will be a process, he said. It started in December when Morse came into his office to explain his move, and it won't be completed until the team kicks off its season-opening game against Ottawa.

Morse, meanwhile, will fight to fill even bigger shoes than he's leaving behind. Rock Bridge graduated three players ranked on the Rivals.com list of the top 30 Missouri football prospects, including quarterback Logan Gray and tight end Aron White, both of whom signed football scholarships with Georgia.

Morse's Rivals.com profile, with him pictured in a De Soto football jersey, lists him as having received interest from Alabama, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Baylor, though it does not list any of those schools as having yet offered a scholarship.

De Soto was 9-9 with Morse behind center. He had his best season as a junior, completing 127-of-201 passes and throwing for 1,408 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Scott said he wished Morse the best and hoped the dream of landing a top college scholarship was realized. He told his football team not to dwell on who was and wasn't with the team, however.

"I told our kids we're going to have a football season next year," Scott said. "We have uniforms, a schedule and we're going to show up and play. That's how we're treating it.

"We're going to move on with the guys we have. We're going to show up and play Wildcat football."

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