For the first time in nearly five years, De La Salle enters its season without an established quarterback. With Blake Wayne now lining up behind center at Diablo Valley College, the Spartans went into this summer with three players competing for the right to gain the keys to the offense. So after speaking with a member of the coaching staff and watching two-thirds of the team’s scrimmage at Pittsburg on Friday, I think I’m now prepared to answer today’s question.
Who will play QB for De La Salle in 2009?
First let’s introduce you to the cast.
Travis Pacos (Junior) — Spent the all of 2008 as the primary backup to Blake Wayne, which gives him the most varsity experience of any of three.
Scott Herting (Junior) — Spent most of 2008 as the JV quarterback before being called up to the varsity for the postseason. He ended up receiving a limited amount of action in two lopsided playoff games.
Bart Houston (Sophomore) — Spent 2008 as the freshman quarterback.
In an Aug. 22 conversation with a member of the De La Salle coaching staff, I was basically told that none of the three players had truly separated themselves from the pack. Nearly every practice they would see a different QB play best. However, the coach did believe that whoever ended up winning the job would have to hold onto it, because there wouldn’t be much hesitation in giving one of the other kids a shot.
One week later, I watched all three get into action in scrimmage sets against California and Pittsburg. I don’t think there was any question which QB shined the most at the scrimmage. That was Pacos. He was the best of the three in running the football out of the veer (he rushed for scores against both Cal and Pittsburg), and the offense seemed to move best when he was behind center. I didn’t chart passes, but I’d also estimate that he had the best completion percentage of the three. He was something close to 5-for-5 against Cal. I would be surprised if Pacos is not the first QB to play against Serra-San Mateo this coming Friday night.
Here are a few notes that I had on the other two quarterbacks, who certainly didn’t embarrass themselves.
Herting did some good things, leading the team on a couple of scoring drives. Unfortunately, some of his best passes of the night were dropped by the receiver.
As for Houston, it’s clear that he has the strongest arm of the three. His hitch passes had some real zip on them, and his throwing motion on the deep ball appears effortless. He was the quarterback who ran the least. I did notice a solid option run against Pitt’s second team defense. However, after gaining about five yards he chose to pitch the ball to the tailback, but the tailback couldn’t secure it.
If you’re thinking this may be ripe for a redux of a shared position like how Mike MacGillivray and Wayne were used in 2007, think again. While it hasn’t been ruled out completely, the coaches would like to have just one guy running the show.