Staff Photo: John Bohn Brookwood High School quarterback Joey McLane throws to a receiver during a Gwinnett Passing League event held at Greater Atlanta Christian.
Imagine being a first-year starting quarterback in Georgia high school football. That's a lot of pressure.
Now what if you were the starting QB for a team that recently won a state championship? Even worse, your older brother was the quarterback for the team. Those are big shoes to fill.
That's how Brookwood's Joey McLane and Grayson's Hunter Schuessler feel going into the football season. The duo have the lofty expectations to do what their older brothers did recently by winning a state title.
"I think we have to keep the family name going," Schuessler said. "I don't want to let anyone down and we have to live up to our brother's expectations."
Benji McLane guided Brookwood to the 2010 state championship and a year later Nick Schuessler led Grayson to the state title. Their younger brothers watched in admiration and now it's their turn to follow in their big footsteps.
"That's the way it is. You have good programs and you have families involved and kids grow up," Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said. "It's just sort of coincidental it works out for us the same way in that regard."
McLane has been groomed to be Brookwood's QB since he was a little boy. His father Ben Sr., has been an assistant at Brookwood for more than 20 years, so he knows the system like the back of his hand.
"There is, of course, some pressure, but it's nothing I can't handle," McLane said. "I've been taught by the best -- my dad, my brother and Coach Crews."
Benji McLane threw for 2,346 yards and 17 TDs as a senior to lead Brookwood to the state title. He's now the starting quarterback for Georgia State. That's big shoes to fill for a guy like Joey McLane that played sparingly as a junior, but has not started a varsity game.
"I hope he feels a little bit of pressure because that helps you compete, I think," Crews said. "He needs to grow up and play in his own right and do what he's capable of doing. We'll see where that leads us."
Grayson was always known as a running team until Nick Schuessler became the starter and threw for 1,614 yards and 19 TDs in the Rams' 2011 state championship season.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Hunter Schuessler draws a lot of comparisons to his brother.
"He's got a strong arm like his brother. He's tall, but he's thicker than Nick," Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said. "He's very willing to learn and do the right thing. He's always here and trying to lead like his brother."
After leading Grayson to the state crown, Nick Schuessler signed with Mississippi State and then transferred to Clemson. He's one of the few quarterbacks from Gwinnett County to ever sign with a Division I-BCS program.
Now younger brother Hunter, who was the starting QB on an undefeated JV team last year, takes the reins two years after his older brother Nick.
"The only pressure he will have is the pressure he puts on himself," Conn said. "He really admires his brother. I'm sure there's some pressure, but the only pressure he feels will come from himself and not us."
With the comparisons to their older brothers, Crews and Conn were adamant the younger McLane and Schuessler brothers have to make their own legacy. After all, when it comes to family and sports, there's always bragging rights.
"If the pressure is on him, it's probably somewhat self imposed," Crews said. "If your big brother wins a state championship, around the Thanksgiving table that will be part of the discussion."