Practice was over for all but two players Wednesday at Augusta Christian.
Freshman quarterback Tyler Roberson and senior receiver Evan Wells remained on the field working on comeback routes as coach Keith Walton watched.
"They do this right here every day," Walton said. "Nobody's telling them they got to stay. They just do it."
By the end of the season, Walton wants the pair's timing to be such that when Roberson releases the pass, he knows Wells will catch it.
Walton was concerned initially about starting a freshman quarterback. His expected starter, Jackson Whitley, left in the spring for North Augusta.
Wells, who had never played quarterback, worked with Walton in the spring to try to learn the position. Roberson and Wells took snaps during the summer and in the Lions' first scrimmage.
Walton decided he did not want to have to replace Wells' production at receiver and that Roberson, despite his inexperience, was a quarterback.
"That young man can make the throws," Walton said. "It's just, 'Do I want him to go through that pressure?' I didn't know if he could handle the pressure of being a varsity quarterback. But he's fine."
Said Roberson: "I came out to make sure I earned my spot and make sure no one else took it."
Roberson's mettle was tested immediately. His first task was a home start on Aug. 28 against Charlotte Christian, which boasts several Division-I commitments on defense.
The freshman was intercepted more than once and beat up. But he was back at practice Monday with more focus, Walton said. And the questions about how Roberson could handle the pressure of a game situation were gone. He won't face a defense of Charlotte Christian's caliber for the remainder of the season.
"We see him make improvements at every practice and every game," Wells said. "It's just real encouraging to see what he's going to do this year and the next three years he's going to be quarterback."
Wells said Roberson has been helped by not having to carry the leadership role his first season. That's a job for the likes of seniors Wells, Caleb Harmon, Cole Turner and Austin Lewis.
"We're kind of the ones that get on the guys when they're slacking at practice," Wells said. "Really, his job is just facilitating the offense, and he's done a good job of that."
With Roberson at quarterback, the Lions avoided another season of bringing someone in from another position. Whitley was hurt for most of last season, and tailback/receiver William Banks took on the quarterback role.
Walton said he feels the current setup is a good fit.
"I couldn't ask for anything better right now," he said.
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