PUNXSUTAWNEY — In some instances, having more than one capable quarterback to choose from can disrupt a high school football team’s rhythm and cause confusion and inconsistency within the offense.
In other scenarios, two quarterbacks can make a team more versatile and more dynamic, especially if each signal caller brings unique attributes to the table.
With talented but untested quarterbacks Matt Burkett and Dakota Thomas at his disposal, Punxsutawney coach Alan Nichol foresees the latter situation unfolding for the Chucks this year.
“Generally, my philosophy has been power football, but we’ve been blessed the last four years with some drop-back type quarterbacks,” Nichol said. “What we have this year, for the first time since I’ve been here, is a real wide-open battle between Matt and Dakota. They each bring their own specific skill sets and they’re each unique, so we’ve drawn up packages to fit both of them. Maybe one of them will pull away in the race at some point in the season, but right now, they’re pretty much even.”
Nichol had the pleasure of coaching one of the best quarterbacks in school history in the speedy Logan Weaver in 2009 and 2010. After Weaver moved to Indiana in 2011, Nichol switched former wide receiver Garrett Zimmerman to quarterback.
More of a traditional pocket passer, Zimmerman threw for 1,351 yards and 12 touchdowns in his junior campaign before passing for 1,033 and 13 touchdowns last year.
Nichol essentially said Thomas, a 5-foot-8 junior, better resembles Weaver, and Burkett, a 5-foot-11 senior, more mirrors Zimmerman.
In any case, Nichol likes what he sees from the Chucks’ proverbial two-headed quarterbacking monster.
“Dakota is more of a speed guy and more of a sprint-out type player. He’ll put a lot of pressure on the edge,” Nichol said. “Matt’s a little more classical, but at the same time, he’s more of a roll-out quarterback than a sprint-out type of guy. He can put pressure on the edge that way and he can set up the play-action pass.
“Dakota has that ability to make big plays with his legs, and Matt has a slight edge on throwing the ball downfield, but they both bring skills to the table that can help us win.”
Neither player has taken a varsity snap at quarterback, although Nichol contended that the athleticism and intelligence of Thomas and Burkett will all but nullify their general lack of experience.
Nichol also claimed that having two quarterbacks will prove a luxury on a team that consists of just 39 players.
“They’ve just played quarterback at the junior varsity level, but they’re two of my best athletes, and they’re both more than capable of leading us,” Nichol said. “The most important thing is they’re both good team players and they’re working together. It’s a long season, and they need each other. It’s a luxury to have two guys that have worked as hard as they have.
“Plus there’s always a lot of opportunity in a squad our size. If one of them isn’t playing quarterback, chances are we can use him somewhere else on the field.”