|A senior enters season as starter for sixth straight year|
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior Brady Gosney (left) has been named the starting quarterback this fall. He is the sixth straight senior to start at that position.|
Some things may change with the new season, but one characteristic will not when it comes to the starting quarterback for the Highlands Bluebirds football team.
For the sixth straight year, it will be a senior who happened to serve as the back-up as a junior the previous season. Brady Gosney assumes that role after backing up Austin Hergott last year. Hergott took his talents to Central Michigan University.
The last time a quarterback entered the season as the starter as a junior came in 2010 when Patrick Towles did it. The 2012 Highlands alum and current Boston College Eagle started in all of 2011 and 2010 after taking over the role the sixth game against Cincinnati St. Xavier in 2009. Towles helped Highlands to three of its state-record six consecutive state championships during that time.
Highlands would love to be as efficient offensively as recent seasons and Gosney knows a lot of that responsibility falls on him. The Bluebirds ran 781 plays last year averaging 327.7 yards per contest. But the 2014 Class 4A state championship team broke a 13-year Kentucky state record for the most offensive plays run in a season with 932 plays averaging about 438 yards per contest.
"If you are able to run that many plays, it's everything," Weinrich said. "The defense is playing well and giving us the ball back. Special teams are doing well pinning (opponents) and getting good returns. Even if you don't get the big play, you keep the chains moving. You hope eventually the defense is going to make a mistake and you will get the big play. We're emphasizing being efficient so we can keep the ball moving down the field."
Gosney knows he's following in the shoes of many great quarterbacks at Highlands such as Towles, Gino Guidugli, Beau Hoge, Clay Cecil, Jared Lorenzen, Donovan McCoy and Drew Houliston. Hoge is currently playing at Brigham Young University. But Gosney is focused on setting his own mark instead of trying to do everything like one of them.
"It's big because I'm filling Hergott's shoes," Gosney said. "There is some pressure like that because before you step on the field, people knew your name like even before you said it."
Gosney brings one career start to the table. It came on Sep. 4 of last year in a 54-28 loss at Scott County. Gosney completed 9-of-25 passes for 93 yards and an interception in that game. For the season, Gosney completed 11-of-34 passes for 101 yards, three interceptions and no touchdowns.
"Coach Weinrich was really understanding," Gosney said. "He knew I was going to make mistakes against such a great team and as long I learned from it, he was accepting of it. He said to just go out there and do your best."
Over the offseason, Gosney has been working with the returning wide receivers in the Bluebird Spread offense. Highlands played several games in a 7-on-7 tournament at Ryle on Tuesday. Junior Griffin Huber is the leading returning wide receiver for the Bluebirds with 14 catches for 203 yards and a touchdown last year.
"I've been playing with most of them for a while now so I know what they're good at," Gosney said. "I know what routes they break off sooner than others."
The Bluebirds hope to improve the passing game last year after averaging 130.2 per game. Highlands averaged about 238 a contest the previous season.
"We corrected some routes," Gosney said. "When we do running plays now, we added different things to keep the defenses always moving. Last year, they would always key on the run. This year, we're trying to disguise more."
Highlands hopes not to rely on one player to move the ball like early last season in a 1-5 start. The Bluebirds are known for adjusting to the personnel, but scrambling quarterbacks have given Highlands an added dimension in the past. Gosney ran the ball nine times for 32 yards and two touchdowns last year.
Gosney did not participate in spring ball because he played on the back-to-back 9th Region champion Highlands baseball team. But compared to the spring of 2015 when Highlands did not have spring ball because of work done to the turf field at David Cecil Memorial Stadium, the Bluebirds are more ahead of schedule.
Highlands has two returning running backs with experience. They are seniors Grant Murray and Jared Pulsfort with 534 yards rushing and six touchdowns and 377 yards and three touchdowns last year respectively.
"We're looking to run the ball quite a bit just like we did last year toward the end," Murray said. "That way it opens up the passing. But we don't want it lopsided one way or the other."
Highlands scrimmages at Cincinnati St. Xavier on Aug. 12. The Bluebirds then open the season against Cooper in Fort Thomas on Aug. 19 at 7:30 p.m.