A QB Battle

Another WHBC football broadcast – another GREAT game! They just keep getting better. This one was decided with 7 seconds left as West Branch beat Alliance. It was a game I have been looking forward to since scheduling occurred last summer for multiple reasons.

First, it was a matchup between two of the finest quarterbacks, not only in our area, but the whole state of Ohio. Secondly, these were two very talented teams with lots of players with star power. Throw in an interleague rival that seems to be a close game every year and there you have it – a fabulous high school football game. Forget that it rained most of the first half, the stands on both sides of Mount Union’s Larry Kehres Stadium were full and very loud (there must have been a cowbell fundraiser at West Branch in recent years). Yet another reason I was excited for this game is a personal one. The last 4 years I helped my old BG football player, Greg Sharp, coach 8th and 9th grade football at West Branch. The freshmen thru seniors that make up this year’s team were kids that I coached. It was so good to see them from the sidelines as they warmed up (much bigger these days) but even sweeter to see some of them after the game.

I got some great hugs from some very happy football players. I coached each of them for only one season but that player-coach relationship is unlike any other. They are still my guys. The late evangelist Billy Graham once said “a coach influences more young people in a year than most of us do in a lifetime”. Not sure how much I influenced them but they sure have made my life richer for having coached them. As I alluded to in last week’s story, both Dru DeShields from West Branch and Brendan Zurbrugg from
Alliance are dual threats – they run and pass with great efficiency. This particular night DeShields got the win and showed off his skills to a greater degree. He repeatedly escaped from a certain sack to make a first down run or a completed pass to one of his receivers. One other thing, DeShields injured his knee in the 2 nd quarter and was obviously hobbled. But after missing just a couple plays he returned and when needed, he made the plays to help his team win. No questioning this kid’s toughness. His receivers did a nice job getting open and holding on to the ball, even when it was wet. The night was really special for Christian Martig who had his best game ever, including 2 TD catches, on his birthday! Dru DeShields has committed to playing at Eastern Illinois next season. As good as he is, many ask why
not a bigger school? Don’t be misled. Eastern Illinois plays great football and their history of successful QB’s rivals almost any school in the country. For instance, Jimmy Garoppolo, Tony Romo, Mike Shanahan and Sean Payton all played there. I believe Dru will add his name to that list in the coming years. after the game, DeShields’ head coach Tim Cooper said in his mind Dru was the best QB in the state. After what we witnessed Friday night, that is hard to argue with.