Sam Huard truly doesn’t mind all this passing he and every other team in this league does.
“I’d rather be on the field for four hours than two and a half,” Huard said.
The clock stops a lot more in the North Puget Sound League’s Cascade Division. They might as well change its name to the Passcade Division – every team runs the spread offense.
Kentwood senior quarterback Justin Seiber threw 57 passes in a game this year.
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Huard, Kennedy Catholic’s freshman quarterback, already has a 48-throw game.
Hazen sophomore Jaxon Ingram only threw 45 passes against Mt. Rainier.
Long gone are the days Kennedy Catholic coach Sheldon Cross remembers, when he was the quarterback at Stadium High School and every team ran I-formation.
Kentwood coach Mike Bush thought back to his own prep days as a receiver at Kent-Meridian.
“It’s a lot different,” he laughed. “Teams now are looking to throw the ball to set up the run. Back when I played, it was more run to set up the run, maybe run to set up the pass.”
Seiber, Ingram and Huard are 1-2-3 in passing yards in the South Sound region, which includes more than 60 schools, and they all hail from the same eight-school division.
Seiber has thrown for more yards than any quarterback in the state with 1,820 yards and 20 touchdowns in five games. His 526-yard performance in last week’s game against Ingram’s Highlanders was the fourth most in state history.
Sure, the base offenses help. But it’s more than that.
“I might be biased, but we have some really, really good quarterbacks in this area,” said Cross, a former Idaho State University offensive coordinator.
“But all of these guys you can see they are playing really well because you have coaches and quarterbacks who trust each other. That’s one of the biggest things is Mike Bush and Justin Seiber believe in each other, and it’s the same with Chris Bennett and Jaxon Ingram and Hazen and it’s something I try to be very clear of with our quarterback. Think of like Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, or Jake Browning and Chris Petersen, Luke Falk and Mike Leach. I want to believe that coach-quarterback relationship plays a big role in success.”
And none of them were doing this – or close to this – a year ago.
Justin Seiber prefers country music, just so you know.
He appeared in his first varsity game as a sophomore and Kentwood’s fans began the “Seiber fever” chant after the similarly named pop star Justin Bieber.
“Not at all. Not. At. All,” Seiber said with a laugh when asked if he’s a secret Bieber fan. “But it’s cool what our fans are doing, I guess. They support me, so I can’t complain.”
Bush said he didn’t even know who Bieber was until the Seiber fever reference was clarified to him this year.
“No clue,” Bush said. “I had no idea.”
Seiber has made plenty of beliebers out of followers in these parts. Since the school’s establishment in 1981, Kentwood has featured run-heavy offenses. Seiber threw for just over 240 yards in a game last year to set the school’s single-game passing record, Bush said.
This year? Seiber threw for 471 yards in the season-opener against Glacier Peak and topped that last week (526). Only former Shadle Park quarterback Brett Rypien (613 yards, 2013, 577 yards, 2012) and Tahoma’s Amandre Williams (580 yards, 2014) have ever thrown for more yards in a game.
And Seiber has already thrown for more yards than the 1,275 he had all of last year. The offense has changed dramatically since Seiber was on C-team his freshman year throwing two passes a game.
“I’ve got a lot more freedom this year and way more confidence to just go out and play free and relaxed,” said Seiber, whose father, Jeff, played quarterback at Decatur. “Coach Bush trusts me and gives me a chance to make plays. If I mess up and make a bad play, he lets me know. But he has my back.”
Seiber hasn’t received any offers to play in college, but Bush said that is just a matter of time.
“Everyone I’ve talked to says it’s just a matter of continuing to see him grow,” Bush said. “But, to me, he’s definitely a guy who should be playing at the next level. He is one of the top quarterbacks in the state.”
OKC TO HAZEN
So where did Ingram come from?
He was playing junior varsity football near Oklahoma City last year at Edmond Memorial, which had more than twice as many players on its roster than Hazen’s, the Renton school that went 2-8 last season.
Through five games this year, Hazen is 3-2.
Ingram said they moved to Washington because of his mom’s job. He immediately looked the part for Hazen coach Chris Bennett.
“This offense, it’s not similar at all,” said the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Ingram, whose father was a linebacker at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. “This last game we ran the ball a lot, but in Oklahoma we ran a lot more and we’d only pass on like third down when we needed.”
Ingram has thrown for 1,605 yards on 149 passes (Hazen has run the ball 134 times), including 456 yards and five touchdowns in the season opener against Lindbergh. He tossed six TD passes against Kent-Meridian.
He helped lead a Hazen scoring drive to give his team the lead in the final minute last week against three-time defending league champion Kentwood, but Seiber came back and threw the game-winning 15-yard TD off a Hazen defender’s hands for a 52-48 win.
“There was never anything like that in Oklahoma,” Ingram said.
“There aren’t many games anywhere like that,” Seiber said.
NEXT HUARD HURLER
In his first snaps of high school football, Sam Huard is already approaching the passing numbers that his prolific-passing family members had when they were four years into Puyallup High School.
“Let’s try to go catch my dad this week,” Sam Huard turned and said to Cross with a smile.
It would take 705 yards to do that – but don’t put that past this Kennedy Catholic offense.
Cross has given Sam Huard the keys. He wasn’t even worried about that when Huard completed one of his first seven passes with two interceptions as the Lancers trailed 20-0 against Juanita in Week 2.
But Huard went on to complete 22 of 25 passes in one stretch and finished with 390 yards on 48 throws and Kennedy roared back to win 41-34.
“Any other kid, even a senior, they would go on to throw three more picks after that start and you lose 45-7,” Cross said. “It’s scary how much better he plays on game day and as the game goes on. There’s been some throws in games where – I’m telling you – I don’t think there’s some college guys making those throws.”
His first start of his high school career was against Seattle Prep at Husky Stadium, where both his father, Damon Huard, and uncle, Brock Huard, lit up defenses for UW.
He was maybe a little nervous, he said. But then he completed 28 of 47 passes for 359 yards.
“I had a lot of adrenaline going,” Sam Huard said. “But at the end of the day, it’s just playing football. I’ve been doing this forever. I’ve been there a lot with my dad and hung out there – it’s like a second home. I love it there. I was like, ‘Wow, this is so cool, playing at UW.’ But once you get on the field, that is the last thing you’re thinking about.”
Brock Huard threw for 1,978 yards his senior year at Puyallup, Damon Huard threw for 2,275 yards as a senior and Luke Huard – who went on to play at the University of North Carolina – threw for 2,650.
Sam Huard in on pace to pass all of those as a freshman with 1,570 yards in five games – though it’s pretty apples-to-oranges comparing those Puyallup offenses directed by Mike Huard (Sam’s grandfather) to the lightning-paced one under Cross at Kennedy Catholic.
Sam Huard said the greatest advice he’s received from his father so far is to just have fun.
“And don’t be thinking about anything except for playing the game that I love and competing my best,” Sam Huard said. “And it has been a lot of fun. I love it.
“This is something I just always wanted to do. I feel like quarterback is the most important position on the field and it’s something my family has done and I just have a big passion for this position. Every day I want to go out there and get better to accomplish my dreams.”
And playing in this division, he and the rest of these quarterbacks certainly get a lot more field time to soak that all in.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
SOUTH SOUND STAT LEADERS
1. Justin Seiber
2. Jaxon Ingram
3. Sam Huard
4. Dylan Morris
5. Hunter Wendling
For more leaders, visit: http://www.thenewstribune.com/sports/high-school/article176695086.html