An old joke in hockey says that if you claim to have two No. 1 goaltenders, you actually have no No. 1 goaltenders.
The analogy might seem to translate into football, where the modern quarterback seems so pivotal a position. Yet four of the top 10 teams in last week’s GameTimeCT poll used two quarterbacks in the first two weeks of the season.
“Football has changed,” said Shelton coach Jeff Roy, whose No. 5 Gaels are one of those four teams. “It’s a different game than when I played it and first started coaching. I’ve heard that many a time (about needing one No. 1 guy), but it’s not how it is anymore.”
Shelton seniors James Curley and Mike Callinan have shared the job and led the Gaels to a 2-0 start. Southington, which lost to Darien last Friday and fell from ninth to 11th in the poll, has used both juniors Brady Lafferty and Shane LaPorte.
Friday night at Rafferty Stadium in Fairfield, both teams used a pair. Fairfield Prep, which dropped from 10th to 12th, started with senior J.P. Iaropoli, who’d played opening night; in the second half, freshman Champ Long moved behind center from receiver. Senior Brandon Lombardo and junior Jack Street split time for victorious Newtown, which moved up from seventh to sixth.
“Both quarterbacks offer something for us. Brandon and Jack both do a nice job doing what they need to do and helping us be successful,” Newtown coach Bob Pattison said.
“They’re both good kids, both good leaders, both hard workers. By having both those guys, utilizing them in different ways, it’s going to make us harder to defend.”
For some teams, it’s about having one quarterback who’s a better thrower and one who can run. That doesn’t seem to be the case in Shelton, where both seniors profess not to be a runner.
“I like it,” Curley said. “If you’re not doing well, you get taken out. We’re just as good as each other. If it’s not a good day for you, try another quarterback.”
Roy said he plans to use both all season. They’ve got a tough schedule, and he hopes sharing the load will ease the physical strain of it. But if one gets hot in the flow of the game, Roy said, he might keep that quarterback in, and the Gaels did that in Week 2 after scoring twice early at East Hartford.
“That’s the benefit to it,” Callinan said. “Coach made the decision to keep me in, and that’s how it’s going to be. Whoever’s hot, you’re going to stay in the game. If, first quarter, second quarter, we both go, it’s good to see who’s going better.”
Roy, in his 16th year in charge of the Gaels, couldn’t remember a time when this many top teams were running out two quarterbacks.
“It’s a different game than it was years ago. You’re running a lot more plays on offense, with the spread offense. You’re getting, also, a lot more kids ready in the offseason with all the passing leagues we play in. You’re developing these kids, and a lot of teams have more than one guy who’s capable of being a starting quarterback.”
For some teams, the choice at quarterback depends on the package they want to run. Fairfield Prep coach Keith Hellstern said after the Newtown game that they used Long for a changeup at halftime, coming from behind, feeling that both quarterbacks are capable.
Staples, a night later, used the versatile Jake Thaw behind center at times to go with Jackson Zager in a win over New Britain.
“Jackson’s our quarterback. I come in for certain packages,” Thaw said Saturday after catching five passes from Zager and throwing eight times himself. He’d been Staples’ No. 1 quarterback last year.
“At first it was a little bit difficult adjusting to a new role. I feel like I’ve had a new role each year on this team. But I love it. I love doing whatever I can for the team. It’s best for the team. I’m really happy Jackson’s here. We’re just looking to keep this thing rolling.”
Of the eight top-10 teams that are using one quarterback, five have their top signal-caller returning. No. 2 St. Joseph, No. 3 Greenwich and No. 4 Darien each has a new No. 1.