For the first time in head coach Jimmy Carter’s tenure at Wylie High School, he’ll have a returning starting quarterback.
After replacing seniors each of the last two years, Wylie can feel assured that they won’t have a new quarterback manning the offense.
In fact, rising junior Jagger Bale returns after winning the District 9-6A co-newcomer of the year award, and he’ll have two more seasons as the Pirates starter. As he enters his second year as the starter, Carter is excited about what the offense can look like next season.
“Anytime you have a returning starting quarterback, and I thought Jagger did a good job of getting better each week and getting more confident,” Carter said. “I’m excited to see what he can do next season and he’s worked hard with coach [Brandon] Doty and coach [Jerod] Monk to improve his game this summer.”
Bale finished the season with 1,359 yards passing and 21 touchdowns, with 14 through the air. While a starting sophomore on the varsity team, he went through the expected ups and downs that a young player at the highest level of Texas high school football would generally have. What impressed Carter the most was his ability to battle back from those situations, including a couple of big games down the stretch that pushed the Pirates into the playoffs.
“He got more confident as the season went along,” Carter said. “Young quarterbacks are going to make mistakes, but learning from them was key and that’s what Jagger did. He trusted his teammates more and didn’t feel like he had to do everything alone.”
As the Pirates now put more expectations and burdens on Bale, they want to see even more out of his performances in his second season. That improvement isn’t just in the statistics or on the scoreboard, but in how he can lead and take control of the offense that he has more experience.
“The key will be getting us out of bad situations, or taking advantage of a mismatch the defense might give us,” Carter said. “If we have a play call that we’ve worked throughout the week but have adjustments based on what the defense shows, it’s up to him to make those adjustments and adjust the play as he needs to.”
Bale spent the spring on the baseball diamond helping the Pirates reach the playoffs there as well, and now returns to the football field and has taken on a leadership role this spring and summer. With new faces at running back, receiver, and offensive line, he’s quickly turned into one of the most experienced players on the offense.
“Watching him throw this summer he’s definitely gotten a lot stronger this summer,” Carter said. “We want to use his abilities to form our offense and allow him to find his strengths in our offense.”
Part of that use in the offense is Bale’s speed at the quarterback position. He rushed for seven touchdowns last year and developed a strong ability to feel pressure and run the ball when needed for positive gain. With a younger group of players at skill positions, his legs will become an important part of the offense this season.
“We don’t want to run him too much because we don’t want him to take a beating,” Carter said. “It’s an important part of the game today, though, so we have to take advantage of having a quarterback that can run. As a former defensive coordinator, accounting for a mobile quarterback makes the job that much harder.”
Behind Bale, Wylie has Aidan Atwell and Rocky Heuer III will be the primary backups for the Pirates. Atwell is likely to feature on the defense this season, while Heuer was the junior varsity quarterback last season as a sophomore. Both are prepared to step in if needed.
“Of course, you hope it never comes to that, but we trust both guys will be prepared and will give us a good look if called upon,” Carter said.
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