Three locals vying for slot at Concordia

Published 10:28 pm Friday, August 15, 2008

Two local products are involved in a three-way battle for Concordia College’s football team.

It’s not a glamorous job. To steal a phrase from “Friday Night Lights,” the winner will be the backup’s backup.

Senior Ken Johnson has the top spot locked up at quarterback, and Dustin Ward is No. 2.

Email newsletter signup

But three freshmen — Selma High graduate Justin Brown, Keith graduate Antonio McCall and Birmingham native Sidney Skanes — are pushing for playing time, and the opportunity to take over the reigns when Johnson leaves.

“It’s hard to judge that position when you’re looking at a talent the caliber of Ken Johnson,” said Concordia coach Shepherd Skanes. “Those three look good in their own ways.”

All three have weaknesses, but ironically, their combined positives would make up a prototypical quarterback.

Brown was already familiar with Concordia’s spread offense. He ran the system during his junior year at Selma High under offensive coordinator Richard Moncrief, who has since moved on to coach quarterbacks at Alabama State. Brown passed for more than 2,000 yards his junior season.

He feels good about where he stands, but has not separated himself from the pack yet. Skanes likes his mechanics, but thinks his footwork needs improvement.

“I’m trying to take it day by day,” said Brown. “The best man’s going to get the spot.”

McCall is a 17-year-old freshman from Orrville. His family moved to Orrville from Atlanta during his sixth-grade year, and he was placed in the seventh-grade.

Skanes wanted him as a quarterback for his spread offense, but didn’t have a lot of film or stats to go on. Keith runs a wing-T offense, a formation that emphasizes the running game. The Bears threw approximately three times a game when McCall was there.

But Skanes liked McCall’s size — 6-foot-2, 200 pounds — and recruited him as a quarterback.

“It’s like jumping out of a baby pool into the ocean,” said Skanes. “He went from throwing the ball 10 times a year to 120 times a practice.”

McCall is slowly transitioning into his new offense. Because of his experience in the Wing-T, his footwork is where Skanes wants it. His mechanics need work, however.

“I’m learning the offense,” said McCall. “Everything’s getting better.”

Sidney Skanes, Shepherd’s son, has the intangibles. He knows the offense, but has problems with his mechanics. He throws every pass, even short and medium passes, like he’s throwing the deep ball.

“He’s vocal and has better control of the offense,” said Shepherd Skanes. “He takes control like Ken.”

The race remains tight, but Sidney Skanes doesn’t mind being pushed.

“If you like competition, this is the place to be,” said Skanes.

Brown, McCall and Skanes may not see much playing time this year, but one of them will take the reigns in the future.

All three have already impressed the coach.

“I feel like if I take Ken out, all of them will move that ball up and down the field,” Shepherd Skanes said.