High School Football

Seeing double: Two-quarterback system works for Catawba Ridge football

If one is good, then two is better.

At least, that’s how Catawba Ridge head football coach Zac Lendyak looks at it.

At the first-year school, Lendyak is a part of a lot of “firsts.” But as history will show, there won’t be a first quarterback at Catawba Ridge. There will be two.

Both 5-foot-7 junior Kayden Hager and 5-foot-10 sophomore Harrison Wilson are quarterbacks in Lendyak’s two-quarterback system. And while there can only be one quarterback on the field at a time, Lendyak looks at both of them as his starters.

“We knew we were going to split the reps anyway,” Wilson said. “We are like brothers. We were going to come out here and play ball.”

“We both have good skill sets,” Hager added. “Together, Coach knew we could change things up and keep the defense guessing. We are really happy with our system. It takes a lot of pressure off each other.”

While both quarterbacks are considered starters, each player has their own specialty. Wilson has thrown for five touchdowns and Hager has thrown for one; however, Hager has a higher passing percentage with 55 percent, while Wilson is at 47 percent. Wilson is 45-95 for 464 yards on the season, while Hager is 16-29 for 175 yards.

The Copperheads are 2-3 overall on the season.

“Harrison has a little stronger arm and will throw more from the pocket,” Lendyak said. “Kayden is more athletic and runs more out in space. Also, we aren’t afraid to run Harrison and throw Kayden. They both can do it. One thing that is nice is when one comes in, we don’t have to change the offense. Both can do it.

“Sometimes with a dual quarterback system, one is a true pocket passer and the other is more of a runner and you kind of have to change things. But any play call I make for one, I can make for the other as well.”

While having a dual quarterback system is different, it isn’t unheard of. That said, often, over time, someone beats out the other. However, back in the spring, Lendyak noticed something different about his quarterbacks.

“We kind of wanted to go with one, but then we realized that both could get out there and play,” he said. “Both of them play defense for us, so we couldn’t really say that one of them was the guy because we both needed them on defense. We tried to create packages for them so they both get out there and touch the ball.”

Lendyak said he sees having a dual quarterback system for the foreseeable future with both of them being at the school. Hager has one more year at the school and Wilson has two more seasons.

“It’s not what I want to do,” he said. “I am not a traditional two-quarterback guy, but both of them will be here next year, and if it continues to work, than we will probably roll with it next year. We will have to see how things work out next spring.”

Lendyak said that both Hager and Wilson are good friends, and there is no jealousy or animosity toward each other.

“One of the reasons we do it is because they allow us to do it,” he said. “They are excited for each other when one scores or makes a play. Also, they are together everywhere when I see them. They come and eat lunch together in my classroom. They have their cheesy little handshake after one of them makes a good play.”

The two agree they are happy for the other one something good happens.

“Anytime we do something good, we are the first ones to each other to congratulate each other,” Wilson said.

Both know that each has their particular skill sets and in that they just concentrate on trying to do what they do best.

“Harrison has a real strong arm and is really talented,” Hager said. “He can see over the line better. I trust Harrison throwing the ball.”

Wilson echoed Hager’s sentiment.

“I know I am not the fastest guy and Kayden can run a little bit,” Wilson said.

Having two quarterbacks allows each one to compete with the other in a way where they push each other, Lendyak said.

“They challenge each other and they hold each other accountable,” he said. “They help each other out learning the offense as well.”

And in a way it is all about getting better along the way.

“You know that no matter what happens you are going to become better from the other person’s mistakes, or they are going to become better from your mistakes,” Hager said.

Both quarterbacks are hoping that Lendyak keeps the dual quarterback system into next season. Their goals for this year and next are simple: to shock as many people as they can.

“This year,” Wilson said, “we are really trying to prove that point that just because we are a first-year school, that doesn’t mean that we are going to let someone come out here and just roll all over us.”

Mac Banks: mbanks@comporium.net, @MacBanksFM