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Prep football: Calling all the shots

With starter out of practice, the quarterback position is being shared by a slew of underclass

Posted: August 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Hart sophomore quarterback Davis Koppenhaver drops back for a pass during practice on Thursday at Hart High School. He is one of many quarterbacks who have taken snaps with the first-team varsity offense due to the absence of senior Cory Mayes, who is recovering from mononucleosis.

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Hart football struggled with consistency and ball control on offense last year.

The lack of experience on the team may have had something to do with that.

One season later with nearly every starter returning, the offense was supposed to be ahead of the curve going into fall camp.

There’s just one problem.

Starting quarterback and senior Cory Mayes has yet to practice because he’s recovering from mononucleosis.

“I was excited for senior year,” Mayes said. “I gained some weight over the summer and I was excited to get out there, but unfortunate events kept me off.”

The school once known as “Quarterback High” isn’t totally certain who will be leading the huddle in its season opener on Sept. 2 against Tesoro High of Rancho Santa Margarita.

If Mayes isn’t fully recovered, the Indians could go with sophomore Connor Wingenroth, who has taken the majority of the first-team reps in the first two weeks of camp.

“We’ve had to go step-by-step with Connor, but he’s done a really good job there,” said Hart head coach Mike Herrington. “We have confidence if we have to go with him in the first game.”

Mayes, who was diagnosed with mono a week before the beginning of camp and spent multiple days in the hospital, stood and watched the team practice in a tank top on Thursday. Most of his symptoms are gone now, and he hopes to return to practice by Monday.

In the meantime, the offense has made do with Wingenroth for the most part, while the JV and freshman-team quarterbacks have mixed in a few varsity reps as a precaution.

“It would have been nice to have Cory right off the bat because we’re not starting from step one because you have that year under your belt so things could have progressed a little bit better,” Herrington said.

Fortunately, outside of quarterback, Hart has no shortage of veteran players on the offensive side.

The surrounding experience has eased Wingenroth’s transition from freshman quarterback last year into the varsity game.
The sophomore is also competing for a starting job as a defensive back, but has had to shift most of his focus to leading the offense.

“When I figured out that I had to help out as quarterback, I tried to adapt as well as I could,” Wingenroth said. “I had a great (offensive) line. I just had to learn the offense real quick, make some reads and O-line helped me out a lot.”

Second-year starting offensive lineman John Perkins has taken notice.

“(Wingenroth) has stepped up a lot playing the quarterback position,” Perkins said. “He’s making his reads and everything and we’re protecting him well.”

Though Mayes’ illness has been the most impactful in camp, a 24-hour stomach flu has also made its way around the team, Herrington said.

Players are getting well though, and spirits are high for a Hart team coming off its first playoff-less season since 1980.

“The kids have been working pretty hard,” Herrington said. “These are the dog-days of summer as far as practice goes.”

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