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Prep football: ’Cats reload QB

West Ranch is pleased with its choice for starting quarterback

Posted: August 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch quarterback Gerrit Mouw winds up to throw a pass during practice on Tuesday at West Ranch High School. Mouw is slated to be the team’s starting quarterback this season, but has big shoes to fill following graduate Connor Eichten.

 

For the last two years, the West Ranch varsity football team hasn’t had to worry about the starting quarterback position.

With the graduation of Connor Eichten, a player head coach Sean O’Brien said was the smartest football player he had ever seen, that’s no longer the case.

Fortunately for the Wildcats, so far during offseason workouts, junior Gerrit Mouw has proved to be a worthy replacement.

Coming into the offseason, the decision was made that if Mouw could perform at the varsity level, the position was his to lose.

Behind him on the depth chart was senior Gabe Peralta, a starter on the defensive side who came in at quarterback early in a game last season against Saugus and led West Ranch to a 21-20 victory.

With Peralta starting on defense and O’Brien not wanting to have a starting quarterback start on both sides of the ball, what could have been a quarterback battle never really materialized.

“Not in the sense that we ever had them both on the field and were carefully looking at both and trying to decide which guy are we going to go with,” O’Brien said. “Put it this way, it was more a case of, ‘we want Gabe (Peralta) to start on defense, we want Gerrit (Mouw) to start on offense, can that happen?’”

So far, the plan appears to be working out just fine.

Coming off a 9-1 junior varsity season in which his only loss was in a game against Valencia, Mouw didn’t spend much time celebrating before turning his attention toward varsity football.

“Even back in January, back when we started having offensive meetings with him, he was very eager,” O’Brien said. “He soaked things up, he wanted to get started. … He has worked mentally in the offseason very, very hard so that when we come out here and physically execute, he is not behind the curve.”

And it’s a good thing too, as O’Brien has pushed him at every opportunity in his quest to fill the void left behind by Eichten.

“Connor Eichten, last year, this was far and away the most intelligent football player I’ve ever seen,” O’Brien said. “Gerrit is shaping up to be the same thing. We put so much mental pressure on Connor, who could handle everything we threw at him. We were tempted to back off of Gerrit, but we didn’t. We continued to increase the mental pressure, and so far, we haven’t found anything yet that he can’t understand.”

And Mouw’s excited for each new test that comes his way in his preparation for varsity football.

“It brings up the competition level,” Mouw said. “The game speed is a lot faster up here, and you’ve just got to intensify that.”

With the season right around the corner, Mouw is happy with the progress he’s made, but knows there’s still work to be done in camp and throughout the year.

“I think I’ve made a huge leap,” he said. “There’s still room for improvement, there always is. I think I’m ready to at least take the field, but every game presents a new challenge that you have to find a new solution to.”

As for Peralta, he’s happy with the outcome in fall camp and ready to help the wildcats defensively this season.

“(Gerrit’s) great,” he said. “He makes smart decisions, good reads and all that. He’s a really smart kid. He knows what he’s doing back there.”

With the season less than two weeks away, the Wildcats will have an opportunity to see how far Mouw has come this summer.

And O’Brien hopes it will be the start of a long high school career.

“We’re hoping for two more years of yet another very, very smart, precise Peyton Manning-style quarterback,” O’Brien said.

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