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Competition at QB good for Trojans

By: Nick Pecoraro for the Telegraph
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Opening night is Friday and Oak Ridge Coach Eric Cavaliere is met with the task of setting his starting lineups.

A top priority since last November was to fill the void left by quite possibly the best quarterback the Oak Ridge football program has ever seen. After three years of running the show as the Trojans’ dual-threat quarterback, Ian Book is off to play for the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame, leaving a healthy competition for his old position in his wake.

Cavaliere explained that there were as many as four candidates for the starting job with less than a month before the Trojans’ first game against Vista del Lago.

A pair of juniors Marco Baldacchino and Parker Barry spearheads the audition with another pair of sophomores Matt Jenner and Cooper Crick making some noise. Cavaliere has relished over the tempo and work he’s seen in practice from all of his quarterbacks this offseason.

“Everyone has their specialty. We have throwers, runners, good decision-makers, just good kids and they’re getting better every day,” said Cavaliere.

Baldacchino is described as a “baller” by teammate and wide receiver Cameron Stone for his speed and ability to keep a broken play alive. Barry, the only one with varsity snaps under his belt, can run the ball just as effectively as when he’s throwing. Jenner, a 6’3, 200-pound sophomore transfer from Folsom, has the demeanor to play quarterback while Crick, who has since been moved to the junior varsity team, looks like a natural with the football.

“It’s really not a bad problem to have,” said Cavaliere of his competition.

“Marco is very athletic. He may be one of the top two or three fastest kids on team. Parker has been in our program the longest. He’s got the most experience and the best handle on the schemes. I’m so impressed with how quick Matt’s learning. We’re really excited about his size and strength. And Cooper probably throws the best football of all of them. Very accurate, nice spin on the ball. He’s a very polished passer.”

Barry and Baldacchino say that they both keep in touch with Book as much as possible and both will say that they learned a lot from suiting up with him on the practice field every day.

“I learned a ton by watching (Book) play,” said Barry. “It was a great opportunity being able to practice with him, learn his work ethic, watching his footwork. It was phenomenal.”

“Ian and I are really good friends. He taught me how to handle pressure as a quarterback,” said Baldacchino. “He always stayed calm. Everyone is watching you and you have to be able to handle the outcome of games no matter what it is.”

The Trojans are set to take on the Eagles in their season opener Friday at Folsom High School.