Rose Bud is rallying around two quarterback prospects as fall camp approaches Aug. 5. Following the abrupt departure of all-conference senior quarterback Christian Reynolds, who transferred to Searcy, the Ramblers have turned to junior Andrew Adcock and sophomore Jake Cantey with vigorous intentions of salvaging a promising season.
The Ramblers, who missed the playoffs by one game last year and return 16 senior starters, have formed a strong team-oriented bond since Reynolds' transfer. “It's behind them,” said
Rose Bud Coach Steve Rose, who is entering his sixth season at the school. “We talked about it one night the day it happened and the overall group mentality is … OK, we are ready to go play football. I don't see it affecting us at all. Regardless if you have a situation like this somebody always has to step up and take the reins. Maybe this changes one or two people's role on the team but other than that we fully expect our guys to go out and perform the way they have in team camps.”
Adcock and Cantey are both capable of throwing the deep ball with precision. Rose says the team has several options for filling the most vital position on the field.
“We didn't see any drop off at team camp,” said Rose, whose team won three of four games at their latest camp in Searcy, including triumphs over Harding Academy and Wynne.
“Obviously the younger quarterbacks sometimes make mistakes but these are kids have been in the system since they were seventh graders so it's not like we are teaching them anything new. They both looked very comfortable [at Searcy and Cave City team camps]. They both did a good job of making the throws on time and in the right spots. We felt like we played well and we are happy with our performance.”
Adcock (6-1, 200) has proved to be a standout at receiver, making leaping catches in traffic, while also showing the ability to play quarterback. Cantey (5-11, 190), who led the Junior Ramblers to a 7-2 record, which was good for second place in the stout 2-3A Conference last season, has a strong presence in pocket.
When the play breaks down, Cantey has shown a knack for scrambling for positive yardage and moving the chains. While traveling to Louisiana for the prestigious Manning Camp over the past three years, Cantey has picked up an uncanny sense of seeing the field and checking down to the running backs rather than taking sacks under pressure.
Adcock, who entered the season listed as the backup quarterback, stands tall in the pocket and uses a strong arm to find receivers in small creases.
“We have not made any decisions on anything like that [starter],” said Rose. “They both throw a good ball. That is a plus for both of them. We kindly feel like both of them could easily handle the job.
Page 2 of 3 - “Adcock had developed into a go-to guy at receiver this summer, so we are trying to weigh that out and how that would affect us. He is a guy that in 7-on-7 and team camp that catches 7-10 balls per game and 100 plus yards and a touchdown or two. It's a situation where when he [Adcock] is at receiver he is a weapon there, but when he is at quarterback we feel like he is a weapon there, so we will just have to weigh out what is best for the team and go forward from there.”
Rose Bud used a two-quarterback system during Reynolds' sophomore season, when he shared time with senior Nick Cartwright. Rose said that could be a possibility this year with Adcock and Cantey.
Another strategy could involve using versatile junior running back Caleb Ferren and all-conference senior running back Cole Robertson (5-10, 200), who rushed for 1,091 yards and 12 touchdowns on 162 carries, in an option base attack.
“We will have a few other options. Caleb Ferren (5-9, 180) is a guy we can use to run some option stuff with. He played running back in junior high and a little bit last year and he played quarterback a little bit in junior high. He will be in that equation. He brings some speed to the option package. Both Andrew and Jake also run the option well. If the kids make the right read we should be successful running that.
“We have settled on adding a few new wrinkles and you want to get the ball into your playmakers' hands, so obviously Cole Robertson is going to get a lot of touches, Caleb Ferren is going to get a lot of touches, Tyler Weatherly (receiver) is going to get a lot of touches and Andrew Adcock is going to get a lot of touches. You never know, you might see Cole Robertson back there pulling the trigger a little bit. We did that with JD Felice a few years back to use his athleticism.”
Rose said the skill positions are loaded with talent capable of making a big impact.
“We've got a lot of guys. Blake Ferrell has really blossomed in the summer as a receiver and possible running back. So we've got a lot of guys we feel comfortable getting the ball to and we've got a beat 'em up running back in Daniel Strain that we can pound up inside some and use on the dive part of the option game. We don't feel like we have really lost much. We just have to change the way we run things as far as the personnel we are using, but other than that we don't feel like we are going to have any issues.”
Rose said it's exciting to restructure the offense around an abundance of playmakers geared to step into a larger role. “The most interesting thing is putting all the packages together. What we are going to do with this guy, this guy and this guy. We try to pair our offense around our players that do the best. Christian had a package when he was here, Jake Cantey's package will be a little different, but it will be comparable. Andrew Adcock's package will be a little bit different from those two but it will be comparable.
Page 3 of 3 - “We have to mold to what we have and we told our kids it's like this. 'You've had a season-ending injury. You can treat it like it's an injury, but the good thing is we've got six weeks to find our replacement.' The way we performed at team camp I am not too worried,” added Rose.
As a junior, Reynolds (6-3, 215) completed 114-of-192 pass attempts for 1,628 yards and 20 touchdowns, while rushing 163 times for 1,076 yards and 13 more scores. “We wish him the best of luck,” said Rose.
Five teams advance to the playoffs out of the 2-3A Conference this season. Although picked fifth by the Hooten.com coaches' poll, Rose said his team's goal remains the same ¬ win conference. “Our goal hasn't changed. Our goal is to win conference. In order to do that we need to get through the first few weeks healthy and then get prepared for Week 5 and 6 against the teams that are picked to be the favorite. We have proved that we can play with any of them.”
The Ramblers visit Bigelow for a preseason scrimmage on Aug. 26 and open the regular season versus Hazen on Thursday, Sept. 4 in the Hootens.com Kickoff Classic on the purple and silver turf at Estes Stadium in Conway.