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High schools: Good backup QBs are essential for success

Sophomore Keaton Torre of Edmond Santa Fe and junior John Kolar of Norman North play well after replacing Division I commits Justice Hansen and David Cornwell.
by Scott Wright Published: October 20, 2013

Here's why all of that is impressive. Back in August, when we were giddy about a glorified practice involving a couple of star players, Torre and Kolar were preparing for seasons as backup quarterbacks, having never played a meaningful down of varsity football.

And being a backup quarterback — whether you play for the Denver Broncos or the OKC Broncos' 8-and-under team — you're spending most of your practice time doing something other than playing quarterback.

Torre had been getting 20 percent to 30 percent of the snaps during team and 7-on-7 periods in practice, and then watching Hansen the rest of the time.

It was a different challenge for Kolar, because he was spending the majority of his time as a starting wide receiver during first-team work. And the athletic 6-foot-4 junior was looking like a pretty good one, until he was needed behind center.

“I was always taught, and still believe, that your starter needs to get 75 to 80 percent of the snaps with the first team in practice,” Manning said. “In a game, if I'm able to get Keaton in, I'm always willing to do that, to let him get some snaps in game action.”

The fact is, being a backup quarterback isn't an easy job. And filling in for an injured star is even tougher. Doing it on the road against a stout opponent adds another level of difficulty.

But Norman North's goals haven't changed with Kolar behind center. The same could be said for Santa Fe, though it looks like Hansen will be back in the near future, if not this week.

Here's what Manning said about his backup, and could just as easily be Wade Standley speaking of his: “Our expectations on offense don't change with him in there. He's gonna be a special player. A lot of people around the state would probably like to have him as their starter.”

by Scott Wright
A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and...
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