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Wylie East replaces top two quarterbacks from last season

by | Aug 15, 2023 | Sports

It’s never easy to replace a varsity quarterback, but Wylie East has the challenge of replacing two.

Following a district championship season, Wylie East graduated starter Jaedon Hubbard and backup Maddox Fuller, who both earned snaps at the varsity level last season. The duo combined to throw for 1,807 yards and 26 touchdowns through the air last year, providing the poise, leadership and ball control that was key to Wylie East’s offensive success.

This summer, Wylie East has two new players competing for the starting job, and head coach Marcus Gold hasn’t ruled out both getting a chance to play this season.

“There’s much improvement from both our quarterbacks throughout spring, summer and 7-on-7,” Gold said. “It’s going to be different when linemen are coming out you and we’ll see how they adjust to that. We like our options.”

The two quarterbacks competing to be the opening day starter are a newcomer and returning varsity player from last season. The newcomer is Ethan Wall, who moved to Wylie from Phoenix last year. While he’s new to the Raiders program, he doesn’t have experience, as Wall played each of the last two seasons at Pinnacle High School, where he threw seven touchdowns. Immediately at practice, Wall’s intangibles stand out.

“He’s every bit of 6-foot-4, and has a really strong arm,” Gold said. “He’s had a good experience in the past and has done well working with the guys this spring and summer.”

Wall has the varsity experience to match his talent, but Gold was impressed with his character as he moved into Wylie East, quickly bonding with new teammates.

“It’s hard when you move to a new state, have to make new friends and learn a new playbook and all that,” Gold said. “Within the first few practices, I felt like he had it. Most kids are so nervous and he can throw the ball. If he focuses on mechanics every single down, he’s going to be an excellent quarterback.”

Also working to earn the job is Howard Fisher IV, who served as the third quarterback on the depth chart last season behind the two seniors. Fisher has been in the Wylie East football program for years, and hoping now is his time to earn reps at the varsity level in his junior year. He’s shown a good handle on the offensive scheme this spring and summer.

“He’s been with us for a long time and he’s done well,” Gold said. “Not only throwing the football but he’s done a good job of running the football. Both guys have done a great job of working with the guys and being here every day over the summer.”

Fisher had an opportunity to compete for the starting job last summer as a sophomore, and since then has grown stronger in the offseason. As he entered as a freshman the first year Gold took over the program, he’s developed better poise at the position.

“When he was at the younger levels, he got away with kind of running any time he could,” Gold said. “He’s done a really good job of keeping his eyes downfield and looking for the second and third options. You have to be able to go through your progressions at the 6A level.”

Mobility can be a big part of Fisher’s game, something the Raiders did not utilize as much at the position last season. His ability to get first downs with his legs when things break down could be a key reason if he’s named the starter this year. He’s quick enough that Wylie East is also considering him on special teams in the return game.

“He’s gotten better as a runner this summer,” Gold said. “He’s able to go north and south and keep his eyes downfield and still get out of the pocket. There’s still much to learn but he’s doing a really good job.”

While Fisher’s ability to run is a bonus for the Raiders, it won’t be a deciding factor in determining a starter. Wall has shown an ability to escape the pocket and gain yardage, even if it isn’t as much of a factor in his game.

“In the end, it’s all about who can get us from point A to point B,” Gold said. “We’ve played mobile quarterbacks, and we did a really good job of stopping those guys by making them one-dimensional. Sometimes we want mobile guys to run, because we can take advantage of that, and I’ve told Howard that as he’s learning that he can’t get caught running all the time and learning to be a good mobile quarterback.”

The Raiders had a strong showing this summer during the 7-on-7 season, including making the knockout rounds of the state tournament. While coach Gold was quick to say that isn’t normal football, he was pleased with his team’s ability to run the offense and develop chemistry between his quarterback and receivers.

“Both kids had some great 7-on-7 moments for us,” Gold said. “When I first got here, I had a 7-on-7 playbook, but now we just run our plays and what we run on Friday nights. That’s helped our quarterbacks improve even if it isn’t quite the same as football.”

As the team begins fall camp this week in the build-up to the first game of the season, Wylie East feels confident both players can be productive next season. Whoever earns the starting job, it’ll come down to who the team believes in.

“Nick Saban said it best, it’s the one who wins the team,” Gold said. “It’s the person who’s the most consistent with their attitude, mechanics, the ability to focus in meetings and work every day. If they continue to be consistent, we think we know who our starter is. We’re talented enough to get into the playoffs, it comes down to being a good enough team.”

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