By Aaron Swaney Herald Writer
Eds. note: Herald prep editor Aaron Swaney visited Arlington camp on Monday morning.
What’s new: Less QB running
Last year Arlington’s Skylor Elgarico switched from receiver to quarterback after the second week and still went on to lead the 4A North in rushing with 1,019 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Don’t expect an Eagles QB to lead that category this year.
With Elgarico graduated, Arlington’s offense will be led by a new face this season. Junior Cameron Scrimgeour and sophomore Diarmuid Murphy are battling it out for the top spot and both are not quite the runner that Elgarico was last year or Blake McPherson the year before that.
Dailer said it’s something they’ve done before, including when McPherson was hurt and when Andy Smith, who who was a better passer than runner, was under center.
“We have some adaptations that we’re used to,” Dailer said. “We’ll focus on different plays in our playbook other than the read-option; a little more running-back oriented, where the quarterback still has the option to keep it but a little less often. Our big play last year was quarterback-counter and basically won’t be running that at all this year.”
Last year’s main rusher John Decker is gone and in his place the Eagles will turn to Jared Alskog — a 300-meter state hurdler — and junior Alex Hayward. Fullback Jon Rabourn is injured but is expected to start the season healthy.
Dailer runs a more run-oriented spread option, in the line of Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, but expect the Eagles to pass the ball more this year. Not only is Scrimgeour and Murphy both pass-first quarterbacks, but Arlington has a lot of depth at wide receiver, including Max Gray, Austin Wells, Noah Andal and tight end Nate Lewis.
“We’re probably going to throw it around a little more,” Dailer said.
Returning All-Wesco players
Second team—Jared Lindberg, OL; Jared Alskog, K; Honorable mention—Deeshaw Benjamin, DL
Player to watch: Max Gray, WR
After breaking his back as a sophomore, the Eagles wide receiver returned last year but battled with confidence and fear of being reinjured.
This year he knows he belongs, which should put all of Wesco on notice.
“Last year I wasn’t that confident,” Gray said during a break in practice on Monday morning. “This year knowing that I can compete with anyone is just my mindset going into this year.
“I’m confident I’ve worked hard enough to belong.”
Gray has had a busy summer, attending six major prospect camps and winning MVP at the Northwest Elite and Northwest College Showcase.
“I want to be a playmaker this year,” said Gray, who caught just 17 passes for 302 yards last season.
Dailer was effusive in his praise of Gray. “You get him the ball early and he’s very elusive in space and has good speed,” Dailer said. “He’s just very good tracking the ball in the air and fighting for the football. He’s got everything you need: great hands and good releases off the line. He’s just a very good receiver.”
Fresh faces: Cameron Scrimgeour and Diarmuid Murphy, QB
One of these guys will be running the Arlington offense this season.
Dailer said that right now Cameron is in the lead — he said the starter will be announced on Monday — but that both have shown promise at camp so far.
Whoever it is, as pass-first quarterbacks, they will give the Eagles offense a new look.
“We won’t have a lot of quarterback runs specifically,” Dailer said.
When it comes to the running game, Dailer said Diarmuid is a little better runner, but Scrimgeour is stronger in the passing system.
Gray has worked with both quarterbacks over the summer. “We’ve worked on routes and where they should throw it and the timing and stuff,” Gray said.
With a first-year quarterback under center, Arlington’s offense is going to take some time to get up to speed.
Good thing they have plenty of speed on defense.
“We fly around the ball defensively,” Dailer said.
Gray and Austin Wells spearhead a strong defensive backfield, while Nate Lewis will be joined this year by Gareth Henderson as anchors of the linebacking corps.
But the defense begins and ends with defensive lineman Deeshaw Benjamin.
“Deeshaw is the heart and soul of that defense,” Dailer said.
Leadership will be big for Arlington as well. Dailer said he stresses leadership and likes what he sees this year, including the leadership of Rabourn and Alskog.
“Rabourn and Alskog are just selfless. You never hear them say a word about themselves just helping others,” Dailer said.
That leadership and defense will be key to buy time for the offense to find its rhythm. If they do Arlington has a good shot at winning the 4A North.