When Dollarway football coach Cortez Lee approached Jeremiah Young about taking some snaps at quarterback, the standout running back was hesitant at first.
He was able to get comfortable with the position to serve as Xavier Long’s backup, and it offered the Cardinals another wrinkle in an already high-powered offense.
But Young was thrust into action when Long missed this past week’s game against Newport because of an ankle injury he suffered two weeks ago against Crossett. Young’s first completed pass went for 30 yards and he finished with 122 yards — 115 by halftime — in a 44-42 win over the Greyhounds on Friday.
He also rushed for 208 yards and five touchdowns, so he was more comfortable about playing the position after Friday’s game.
“It’s fun and it’s not as tiring as running back,” said Young with a big smile on his face. “I feel a lot better about it now.”
Lee has the eye to notice if a player has the skills to be a quarterback since it was the same position he played at Dollarway.
“It’s like natural selection. If I could, I would make them all quarterbacks,” he said. “But Jeremiah and Xavier are clearly two exceptional players.”
Young had a very successful year as a running back last year as he rushed for more than 1,700 yards, but Lee saw more in his star running back.
“We noticed he had a decent skill set throwing,” he said. “This past summer, we started exploring a set if we are in the shotgun, we utilized him. We looked at him as a version of Cam Newton.”
Lee was hoping for a dual quarterback system with the move. Young would still be the primary running back and Long would start under center, but it was another thing the defense would have to worry about.
Young can throw the ball 65 to 70 yards, according to Lee, but Young was still a bit apprehensive about the move.
“I was nervous and it took me time to develop,” he said. “Coach had me working at quarterback day in and day out.”
Lee knew at some point his new offense would be used, but it was really put to the test when Long got injured. After Lee saw Long hobbling around on the Tuesday before the Newport game, he knew Young would be the starter on Friday.
Young was nervous going into the game, but his first pass was over the middle to Darius Robinson for 30 yards and he later hit Joshua Liddell over the middle for 25 yards.
“I was very surprised (with how I did),” Young said. “That’s the pass that coach and I have been working on. After that, I knew I could deliver the ball at any time.”
The start under center did not affect Young on defense, either. He still saw plenty of time at linebacker and strong safety.
Lee said he was not surprised with how well Young did on Friday.
“We saw it every day in practice,” he said. “We have capabilities with him at quarterback and it just makes our offense that much better.”
Young could see a few more snaps as the quarterback this week, too. Lee said Long is at 90 percent right now and is a game-time decision on Friday.
Even though Young had a great first game as a quarterback, he is looking forward to Long returning.
“Yes, I hope he is back, but if he isn’t, then I know what I have to do,” he said. “Hopefully he is back and then I can get back to my position and run the ball.”