GAC running its offense with triple threat of QBs

NORCROSS -- No position in football requires more confidence than quarterback.

They touch the ball every play, lead the huddle, get the best looks at the defense before and after every snap. Footwork, ball handling, vision, decision making. They all happen every play for the quarterback in even the most simple of offensive schemes.

And today, no offense has simple schemes.

It's why the quarterback gets the most attention, and has since the advent of football. It's the reason coaches stick with the one closest to filling all the requirements of the job. It's the reason almost every team finds one quarterback and sticks with him. It's hard enough to find one.

One, however, wasn't enough for Greater Atlanta Christian. And neither was two.

In its season opening win over Columbia, the Spartans ran out three different quarterbacks, by design. They split series, and sometimes plays. They switched in and out like running backs and receivers will. Instead of specialists, they were simply skill players with a swath of responsibilities.

"We are like most teams now, high school and college, we are running option from the 'gun,'" said GAC coach Tim Cokely. "It's old option football from the olden days. To run option football you really need more than one (quarterback) so we are trying to play them all early so they can get a taste of what is going on."

Senior Jared Chapple is the most veteran of the bunch, both at GAC and as a quarterback. It's the position he fits, physically, skill-wise and by pedigree. The name Chapple runs deep at QB at GAC. Then there is Grayson transfer David McTier. The junior played quarterback for the Spartans last year, splitting time with Chapple and setting the precedent for this system. He is smaller, quicker and more of a threat to run. But the Spartans added a third quarterback when Delano Spencer came to GAC from Parkview this past offseason to play basketball and joined the football team. At Parkview, Spencer played quarterback and with his size is a threat with his feet and arm.

The in-game substitutions rest solely on Cokely, who doesn't pre-plan the quarterbacks' rotation.

"It's by my feel. They all have a different skill-set," he said. "When you are playing defense like these guys are, they all play defense and special teams, when you are playing defense and you get a big hit or something you need a couple of plays, it is just whatever we think is right at the time."

The three teammates insist the competition remains friendly, but admit it exists. No one likes giving the ball up.

"I have probably grown more just from this experience than I have in anything else in my life," said McTier, who rushed for 92 yards on 11 carries in the Spartans' first game. "It's been good to me in a lot of different ways. It's taught me to be unselfish and that is needed for a football team to be great, unselfishness."

Not typically the talk from the signal caller. But Chapple and Spencer echo McTier's attitude, and to this point follow their words with actions. They share reads on the sidelines and watch each play, learning from the change in perspective.

"We all three can give each other tips," Spencer said. "If one of us wasn't playing then they wouldn't know what was going on in the game, but with all three of us switching out we can tell them that this guy is sitting and give each other good reads and tips, that sort of thing. I like it, it's not bad at all. It gives you a break."

Spencer also shares time on special teams along with his defense and offense positions. Just like the other two quarterbacks.

Chapple hadn't played a down of defense in high school until Cokely took the head coaching job for the Spartans.

"Coach Cokely came and he decided our quarterbacks need to be tough, they need to be playing both sides of the ball," Chapple said. "He wants to show that our quarterbacks aren't babies, they'll go hit somebody."

It's more than just toughness. Cokely's most resounding drumbeat is unselfishness. He expects his players to play where the team needs them to win and especially for the senior Chapple, winning matters most.

"It's really helped a lot with unselfishness. To be unselfish he put us all on defense as well to show the team that we are willing to do anything at all to win. As long as we stay unselfish we have a good chance this year," he said. "This is my last year so I am trying to make the most out of it."