WATERTOWN — With three home games remaining and a surplus of players expected to suit up for the Red and Black over the next three weeks, competitions have broken out at practice between teammates vying for more playing time.
Surprisingly, one of those positions in question is quarterback. With Joe Brennan and Jared Hendricks splitting time at the position in last week’s win over Plattsburgh, and both having performed well has created an interesting challenge for offensive coordinator Jared Law.
Now, it’s important to note that while the two players are practicing and expected to play the position, it’s not so much a quarterback controversy. In fact, quite the opposite. Law loves the idea of possibly having two talented quarterbacks to work with in a game.
“Honestly, I have no problem splitting between both of them,” Law said. “If I’m looking to go and do some option stuff, I’ll throw Joe in; if I’m looking more for our single back, more for our two-minute offense, Jared does that a little bit better.”
Brennan and Hendricks bring different skill sets to the position. Brennan’s experience as a running back makes him more of a threat to run and scramble in the pocket. He showed off his ability to evade pass rushers versus Plattsburgh — he turned a few near sacks into gains.
Hendricks is a much more traditional passer and one of the best in the Empire Football League — his 752 passing yards is second most in the league.
While the two athletes are competing for one spot, Brennan doesn’t necessarily view it as a competition.
“I just come out here and play, whatever the team needs me to do, whether it’s quarterback, running back, receiver, long snapper, it’s all about the team,” Brennan said. “In the end we all have the same exact goal, just to win that championship.”
Brennan started the Plattsburgh game under center and played the whole first half, a decision that was made during the week prior to the game.
Law believes keeping Hendricks on the sideline for so long lit a fire under the second-year Watertown quarterback.
“Hendricks, on Saturday, showed us something that he hasn’t really shown us in the last two years, and it was a fire that I haven’t seen out of him,” Law said. “Honestly, it was nice to see and to be quite honest, his competition hasn’t been all that great at his position over the past two years. Last year he was pretty much our only quarterback so to finally see him get the fire to be better than he can be because he has some great potential. Watching him sit back in the pocket, when he gets comfortable and we can get him to step up into the pocket, make the reads, make the throws, he’s damn near unbeatable.”
Hendricks is all about the offensive possibilities of splitting time at the position with Brennan. He agrees with Brennan, it’s all about helping the team win. But that hasn’t stopped him from competing.
“I feel like I compete every single day, every single day I feel like I compete, it’s just how I was raised, it’s how I play the game,” Hendricks said. “You never get comfortable; you never get comfortable because people are always coming for your spot.”
The win over Plattsburgh has set a new tone for the Watertown Red and Black season. It’s cliché to say a team that gets back to an even record has a “brand new season,” but for the Red and Black, the team has a different energy than it did four weeks ago.
After exacting revenge on the North Stars last week, Watertown will have an opportunity to avenge its week two loss to Tri-City in Schenectady.
The attitude at Red and Black practice has been more enthusiastic this past week.
“They were, they really were, the energy has really changed now,” Law said. “We have two [three with the Seaway Valley forfeit] wins under our belt now, things are starting to click both offensively and defensively and they’ve come together as a team and they’ve figured it out.”
The Red and Black are currently in third place with a 3-3 record and could hand Tri-City (6-0) its first loss with a win at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds tonight.