A quarterback competition often ends up being a distraction, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at Jesuit High School as summer practice continues. With so many new faces up for starting jobs this season, the race between juniors Trey LaForge and Thomas Marks seems to be flying under the radar.
That doesn’t mean it won’t be a spirited battle.
Both students said they’ve become good friends — but as one might expect, both want to be calling the plays in the huddle when the Blue Jays take the field against Ponchatoula on Sept. 6 at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans. Coach Wayde Kaiser said neither has emerged as a favorite, and in fact, he said it’s possible he’ll use a two-quarterback system to start the year.
After a stellar prep career, former Jesuit quarterback Tanner Lee has moved on to Tulane. Last season, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound LaForge, a starter on the basketball team, saw limited playing time as a backup to Lee. Meanwhile, Marks (5-11, 185) had to sit out the season after transferring from Brother Martin.
That doesn’t necessarily give LaForge a leg up.
“They both have had great springs, and they’re both very competitive and very coachable,” said Kaiser, who is in his seventh season at Jesuit. “They compete hard not only against each other, but against the opponent as well. You want to see that. You need to see guys who are competitive. Because of that, we might just play both guys.
“They’re both good athletes. They both fit into our style of offense. ... They work well together, and they’re friendly. I think they pull for each other to do well and even coach each other.”
The Blue Jays, who were 8-3 and advanced to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs in 2012, will once again run a multiple-formation pro-style offense, and run plays both from under center and the pistol. Although they will be young up front, among the experienced returners include running backs Charles Jackson and Malcolm Ben, which could allow for more running plays than in past years and give the quarterbacks time to mature.
They don’t necessarily want to hear any of that, however. Each said he is ready to take on the challenge for a team that likely will be projected to finish near the bottom of the Catholic League.
“It has been a lot of fun, and I am certainly more excited about this year just knowing that I have a chance to play,” said LaForge, who has been at Jesuit since eighth grade. “Last year, I learned so much from Tanner and (offensive coordinator Chris) LaMothe. It was a good learning year.
“I’ve gotten to know Thomas much better since he transferred, and we’ve become a lot closer. You try to make this as fun and competitive as you can. You don’t want him to mess up, but at the same time you want to be the one who starts.”
Marks, meanwhile, said that both quarterbacks are “great athletes,” adding that both have progressed and are running the offense well. Although LaForge saw a little playing time last year, Marks was able to practice with the team throughout the season, and said each “brings something different to the table.”
“Trey and I are friends on and off the field, and we laugh and joke together. It’s a friendly rivalry,” he said. “It’s not that hard to separate the on- and off-the-field aspect. We critique each other, and it works well. ... Whatever is best for the team is going to end up happening. If that means one of us wins the job or we use a two-quarterback system, that’s what I am for. I want whatever is going to help the team.”
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