Blue Devils' Senior Earns Nod
By Ryan Lazo
Sep 6, 2013, 06:59
RYAN LAZO/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
HOPEWELL — On a practice field in the middle of the Virginia summer, senior Brandon Scott stands drenched in sweat as he launches pass after pass to his Blue Devils’ teammates in an organized team activity he took upon himself to start, a move which highlighted the leadership qualities of a starting quarterback.
Little did he know, those voluntary workouts away from any coach, would help put him in the driver’s seat to earn the starting nod.
Developing chemistry with his wide receivers and gaining a head-start on mastering an offense put Scott on the fast-track.
And following a full preseason of training sessions and a live scrimmage against Clover Hill, head coach Ricky Irby saw enough from Scott to declare him the winner of a fair quarterback competition — something a certain NFL team has proved incapable of.
If Irby were to look at what his team showed during a scrimmage with many ups and downs, Scott may not have been the obvious choice. But his work off the field, constant desire to get better and experience gave Irby enough reasons to tab No. 12.
“He’s been in our program and he’s a dedicated, hard-working kid,” Irby said of his quarterback. “He throws the ball really well. He’s about 6-foot-1, so he can see over the line. He understands what he’s doing back there.”
And it’s that understanding which set Scott apart during the competition.
During the scrimmage against Clover Hill, Scott was able to decipher a defense different than anything he had ever seen and for the most part made the right reads — minus one costly interception. Scott was able to survey the field, elude pressure in the pocket and throw the ball away when the situation dictated.
Scott credited the experience to helping him improve as a player.
“It gave me a good look by playing against a different first-string defense,” Scott said during practice on Wednesday.
But perhaps more importantly is the way Clover Hill was able to pressure Scott into making mistakes.
Why is that important?
Because it gave Irby a chance to evaluate how he responds to tough situations.
Do they bring him down and thereby also the team, or does he rise to the occasion?
And during the week following the scrimmage, Scott stepped up his game and showcased an ability to make all the throws, making him the best candidate to lead Hopewell this season — especially for a road opener.
“We wanted that experience back there and Brandon’s earned this,” Irby said of his decision. “We are going to give him a shot and I feel really confident in him.”
While Scott’s play leaves Irby confident, so did the reviewing of film after the loss to Clover Hill last week. What he expected to see was numerous broken plays and hard to fix problems, however, that was not on the film.
Instead, he saw a team that is young and continues to learn the miniscule details that make a winning team, making it easy details to fix.
“I wasn’t upset as I was originally because the mistakes we made were easily correctable,” Irby said. “Often times we would have nine or 10 guys doing the right thing and just one guy doing the wrong thing.”
But perhaps the biggest fix this week was not done on the practice field, weight room or in the film room. Tabyus Taylor rejoined the Blue Devils after some personal issues, providing an instant boost.
With those personal issues settled and Taylor now in the fold, there is no question the type of impact he can have on the field and on the Hopewell program.
“He’s a great kid. He’s made a couple of bad decisions,” Irby said of his team’s star wide receiver. “As far as what he brings to the table and what he means for this program is tremendous. Not only is he gifted athlete, he’s a great leader.”
Taylor brings a presence with him, one that is noticeable when steps onto the field. It’s a calmness he presents which enables him to never feel pressure and just go out and execute what Irby asks.
Pairing Taylor together with Scott leaves Irby drooling with the creative plays he can draw up with his strong-armed quarterback and sure-handed wide
Options such as reverses, wide reciver passes and perhaps even some Wildcat can now find its way onto the field during games.
But while Taylor will have an effect on the Blue Devils’ season, it’s Scott who holds the key to the success and failure.
If Scott can make the right reads and be smart with his decisions, this young and inexperienced squad can take teams by surprise once again, making for another exciting season in Hopewell.