However, there are other local quarterbacks with the same gifted ability to make plays downfield, and two of them will be on display tonight when Hillgrove visits Campbell for a Region 4AAAAAA clash at Richard McDaniel Stadium.
Heading into the season, the Hawks’ Troy Thompson and Campbell’s Ricky James were under the radar as some of the county’s other top quarterbacks. Yet, after the first month of the season, both have put up solid numbers that are as good if not better than their higher profile counterparts.
Thompson has completed 55.5 percent of his passes (30 of 54), for 516 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions. The projected starter entering the 2011 campaign, he suffered a preseason ankle injury which derailed his promising career, and he was used sparingly afterwards.
But since his recovery, Thompson’s blossomed into his role as the Hawks’ starter, and hopes to lead Hillgrove (1-2, 0-1) to the playoffs for the third straight season.
“He’s a senior who knows how to play the game,” Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside said about Thompson’s success so far this year. “He makes good decisions when he’s out there, and makes plays that put us in position to score.”
As a senior, Thompson inherently has the command and leadership of the Hillgrove offense. Combined with his natural abilities, he has the Hawks’ offense running smoothly as the team attempts to snap a two-game losing streak following their bye last week.
Thompson’s counterpart tonight, James, is also prospering. As Campbell’s signal-caller, he’s completed 56 percent of his passes, completing 41 of 73 attempts for 652 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. He’s also rushed 28 times for 135 yards with a score for the Spartans (2-2, 0-1), who have dropped two straight after nearly pulling out victories.
“Ricky is such a great kid with good character and he has good parents that take care of him,” Campbell coach Harris Rainbow said. “We like that we can trust him as a person and as a player. He leads by example and wants to be a great football player.”
Rainbow especially likes how James, who started the final eight games last year as a sophomore, has a lot of intangibles on the field.
“He’s a great athlete with a good arm,” he said. “He throws the deep ball well, and he’s really grown up this year with is ability to run the offense. He’s a big part of our success this year. He’s comfortable with what we’re trying to do and he understands the offense.
“He gives us the ability to throw the ball and be more balanced on offense. He’s really improved our passing game, and that’s helping to give us opportunities to win games.”