As most of you who read my rubbish regularly know, I've always been tough on high school athletes. When I say tough, I mean I write about their performances as if they are college and pro athletes. I would do the same if I covered college and professional sports. But hey, I cover high school sports so those are the athletes who come under my critical eye. Now, don't confuse tough with unfair. If an athlete stinks up the joint, I'm going to write about it. That might be tough, but it's fair. Of course there's the flip side.
Alcovy's Cornell White and Eastside's Cameron Boyd each had career nights last week in leading their respective teams to wins. Unfortunately, I missed both of them. It figures. But all I've heard the past few days is how good both played.
White completed 11 of 16 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns. He threw touchdown passes of 19, 29, 38 and 41 yards. On top of that, White rushed for a few dozen yards and another score — against Starr's Mill no less. Boyd was nearly as good against Locust Grove. He went 17-for-22 for 205 yards and two scores.
That type of quarterback play is what powers teams on playoff runs. Granted, a quarterback can't do it all on their own. In front of every successful quarterback is solid offensive line play. Credit has to go to both of those units. In addition to that, receivers have to make catches. Mark it down right now — if Alcovy gets that type of production out of White every game, the Tigers make the playoffs.
Sports writers and especially talking hairdos in talk radio love to make comparisons. We tend to do it even more when a great player recently departs or retires or a hotshot new guy resembles someone physically. How many times did we hear the comparisons between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan or Tom Brady and Joe Montana? Heck, we still hear them. The comparisons are never fair and often add pressure to succeed. There's no sense in complaining about it though because it won't ever change.
White has no real benchmark to shoot for. In Alcovy's short history, no quarterback has left his mark yet. In Boyd's case, it's a bit different. He had pretty big shoes to fill after Califf Carnes graduated, not to mention there's more pressure on him to perform. The Eagles are less dependent on the quarterback to earn a playoff berth. But to make a run at a state title, which is clearly the goal, Eastside has a much better chance if Boyd can keep his play up. Carnes also had big shoes to fill when Justin Wray graduated. Carnes went through some tough times (from me of course) but managed to evolve into arguably the school's best. That's why Boyd draws the comparisons.
Quarterbacks are the most criticized players in football. They're also the most praised. Name the first five NFL players that come to mind. I guarantee Peyton Manning, Michael Vick and Tom Brady are at least two of them. You get the point.
I've ripped Alcovy for its lack of a pass attack for the better part of three years. I've pretty much been critical of every prep quarterback that doesn't throw for 250 yards and two touchdowns every time out, that includes Carnes two years ago and Boyd this year and each quarterback that's played at Newton over that span. That's what growing up a 49ers fan during the '80s does to a person. But I've also been quick to point out when these quarterbacks have performed.
As always, one game does not define a season nor does it sum up a player's career. We all have to wait and see what happens next. I'll tell you what, though, White and Boyd improved immensely in two games. That can't be overlooked. Can they keep it up? I hope so. I'm sure everyone else does, too. One thing we do know, quarterbacks will continue to draw praise and criticism as long as football is played. These two might as well get used to it.