For the past three and a half seasons, the Eastside offense was held down confidently by quarterback, Austin Holloway.
Although not the tallest or biggest player on the field, Holloway’s ability to recognize pressure in the pocket and extend plays, as well as delivering passes with pin point accuracy, made him one of the school’s, and the county’s best signal callers.
Now Holloway is gone to Georgia College on a baseball scholarship, but Eastside has the advantage of not only already knowing who his replacement is, but having a replacement who is all too familiar with Holloway and the kind of offense Eastside likes to run.
Senior quarterback Brayden Harper is entering his final season as an Eagle, and his first as the starter under center. His familiarity with the offense comes from his time spent being on the other side of many Holloway passes as an All-Region 4-AAAA receiver, and one of Holloways’ go-to guys.
But there’s another reason why the transition isn’t all that difficult for Harper.
“Quarterback is not really a foreign position to me,” he said. “I played it all through middle (school) and my freshman year, so this summer has just been mainly getting me back and acclimated into the position again.”
It’s an offensive and team leadership role that Harper said he felt good taking on as well.
“I enjoy the challenges that come with it,” he said. “As far as leadership goes, I’m just trying to do the best I can to help get the team be ready when we hit the field August 19th.”
Despite taking the snaps in Eastside’s fast-paced, no-huddle attack, his shift from catching passes to throwing them takes a veteran away from a receiving corps that also lost top receiver Josh Sims, but Harper believes his starting pass catchers will contribute in big ways.
“All of the starting receivers, Jalon Lackey, Jamari Brown and Jerry Mays, are athletes that are capable of making big plays,” he said. “I’m just trying to get the ball into one of their hands and let them do what they do.”
Harper’s experience and the competitive edge he possesses should carry well in game time situations, and if he lives up to his above average attributes, Eastside will not have missed a beat at the quarterback position.
As far as season goals go, Harper is looking for his team to make it past the first round of the playoffs – a feat the team hasn’t accomplished since Harper’s freshman year in 2014.
“I know we are very capable of doing it,” he said.