I have learned a lot since I started covering football recruiting more diligently over the last year since Jason Jewell and I started the Recruiting Roundup.
One of the biggest things I learned is when you have of young “up-and-coming” prospects, the best way to gage whether they are legitimate or not is seeing what they have done on the varsity field. Not the JV of freshman. People can come up to you and say they have the next Kyle Allen or next Andrus Peat and they haven’t stepped foot on to a varsity field.
On thursday night, I got to see Pinnacle’s junior quarterback Brian Lewerke for the first time. Over the summer, Lewerke, who had very little varsity playing time going into this season, name kept popping up as this great potential quarterback prospect in the 2015 class. Working out at camps, getting offered by Arizona State, having a private workout for Nick Saban at Alabama. All these great experiences were unfolding without him really seeing much time on the varsity field.
Add that to the fact that his Pinnacle teammates voted him as a team captain before the start of the year. How often do you see a junior as a captain and a junior with little experience at that! Speaks on the leadership, charter and respect he has amongst his peers.
So I went into the game thursday at Hamilton expecting so see certain things out of him against what is probably the states best defense. He got off to a slow start. I am sure there were some jitters involved and why wouldn’t there be for a junior in only his third start of his career going up against the state champions.
I was on the Pinnacle side of the field when I heard one of the coaches approach Lewerke after the second or third drive of the game for Pinnacle and tell him to calm down and just play football. Sure enough, Pinnacle started running some quick pass routes, screen and what-not to get Lewerke into a rhythm and sure enough it worked.
Though Pinnacle came up short in the end to the Huskies, what I saw from Lewerke exceeded my expectations. He is bigger than I thought, his poise is beyond his years and way, way beyond his experience and his athleticism and decision making was really impressive. This is a Pinnacle offense that throughout the season will look to beat you on the ground as their senior running back Josh Hoekstra prides himself on putting his team on his back. But if Lewerke continues like this, this becomes an offense that can beat you an many ways.
While this is a column about Lewerke and how impressed I was with him, the players that blew me away the most was the play of the offensive line. These are not guys you will find in the box score after the game and after huge guys like Billy Nichols and Jake Kness graduate, this is a unit that was supposed to be down from where they were a season ago.
Yet, going up against three guys that WILL be playing on saturdays in Qualen Cunningham, Caleb Peart and Garrett Rand on Hamilton’s defensive line, Lewerke really did not see a ton of pressure in the game when he was back to pass and Hoekstra had a great game running. The line is a large reason for why I cam away so impressed with Lewerke because everyone got to see what he can do with the football.
So kudos to the big guys in the trenches for getting the job done.
Kudos to Pinnacle to doing a great job earning the respect of the rest of the state. But now the work only gets more difficult. You aren’t surprising anyone any more and have a talented Basha team waiting in the wings next week.