The Wolfpack's playoff run last season came, partly, on the right arm of gunslinging quarterback Brooks Robinson.
Greenbrier quarterback Sean Gray prepares to throw the ball during practice.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Robinson, however, has taken his skills to the collegiate ranks, suiting up for the Western Carolina Catamounts this fall.
Finding a replacement for Robinson, who had tremendous intangibles, will be the preeminent concern when football practice begins.
Sean Gray might be seen as the favorite to land the job.
The junior has spent two years in the Greenbrier system and has had the opportunity to learn how Rodney Holder's Wing-T offense works.
Gray has looked sharp in drills during the sessions at the North Augusta passing league.
But the true test will come when he plays an opposing defense that will be allowed to hit him. That opportunity came Aug. 4 against Cross Creek in a scrimmage when he ran for two touchdowns in a 14-7 victory.
"I think I can win the job and be successful this year," Gray said. "Being in a quarterback race has kept me on my toes. It has also pushed me to be a better player. The competition has also made me a better leader."
Lakeside transfer Brandon Hicks will also be in the mix.
Hicks left Lakeside and will be in an offense that suits him better. He didn't seem to fit into the Panthers' option set and would still be behind incumbent Jimmy Johnson.
Head coach Mickey Derrick said he wanted to wait until the week of the opener against Morgan County to name an official starter.
"Both of our guys have played well in shorts and T-shirts," he said. "We will learn a lot when they are facing live action."
A wild card in the equation could be 2003 Columbia County News-Times Player of the Year Eugene Rogers.
Rogers played quarterback for the freshman team at Greenbrier and could line up behind center for the Wolfpack this fall. His athleticism could overcome his inadequacies as a pocket passer.
Rogers, however, suffered a broken hand in preseason practice and could miss up to half the season. He was working as the third-string quarterback and Derrick said Rogers would have seen substantial time at quarterback. He will still factor in when he returns from injury.
Finding a suitable replacement for Robinson is the key regardless of who Derrick selects as the starter.
The right quarterback could be the deciding factor of whether the Wolfpack can challenge for a region crown or they miss the playoffs altogether.
"Finding a quarterback is the most important decision we make this offseason," Derrick said. "We just have to make sure the pick is the right one."
Hicks isn't worried though.
"Whatever coach decides to do will be the right decision," he said. "He can't go wrong with either of us."
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