ARGENTA — Brody Ulrey has launched himself as one of the premier quarterbacks in the area.
The 6-foot, 165-pound senior has scorched secondaries with impressive numbers for Argenta-Oreana.
He is 66-of-99 for 1,020 yards, 17 TDs and one INT — second behind Monticello's Caleb Hanson — and has shattered a school record with 36 career TD passes in the process.
He's a big reason why the Bombers are 5-0 for the first time since 2001.
It made him contemplate for a few seconds.
Was he a better pitcher or quarterback?
Baseball still won in the end.
“Pitching has always been something I've loved to do,” Ulrey said.
Regardless, he's having a blast with his teammates and savoring every moment of it.
“It's definitely a surprise how talented we are this year,” Ulrey said. “I really enjoy playing with these guys out here. It's definitely different than baseball. There's a different aspect that I enjoy.”
Argenta seemingly sprung out of nowhere.
But at a closer look, the Bombers couldn't have been more primed.
Ulrey had a productive junior season with nearly 2,000 passing yards and 17 TDs, and he was returning with a wealth of talent around him.
Especially at receiver. That includes veterans Parker Haltom, Jared Gifford and Braxton Norman.
Ulrey and Haltom, among others, had been best friends since, well, forever.
“It's really special with him throwing me the ball,” Haltom said of Ulrey. “If we score, it's a special moment for us.”
A group of potent transfers gave that electric offense even more of a jolt.
That includes senior receiver Pierce Bradford and the Stanleys — Makhi, Malik and Makail.
Only a sophomore, Makhi started at tailback but suffered a broken fibula early in the season and may not return until Week 8 against LSA.
Despite that setback, the junior Malik has filled the void while Bradford has become one of Ulrey's favorite targets.
Bradford, who transferred from Sullivan-Okaw Valley, has so far posted 17 catches for 447 yards and five TDs.
Haltom follows with 12 receptions for 226 yards and four TDs while Norman has hauled in 16 passes for 183 yards and six TDs.
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“Pierce has definitely added another level to our game,” Ulrey said. “I think it came natural. Pierce is a good receiver and has good hands. What's most surprising is what he can do when he has the ball.
“We had other receivers playing, but when he came in he kind of just took it from the start. We haven't had to worry about that position.”
It's had a positive impact for everyone on the team.
“They've really helped,” Haltom said of the transfers. “They came in not knowing what we do. But they came into our culture and learned things on the fly. They catch on pretty good.”
What's been a relief for Ulrey has been the offensive line, which doesn't start any seniors.
Forget about the entire team adapting to a spread offense. For Ulrey, protection has been the difference.
“Our line hadn't been the greatest the last couple of years, so we've been able to develop the pass,” Ulrey said. “And I think I've grown to be very confident and trusting my receivers and going through my progressions and finding the open guy."
Ulrey and Co. are more than capable of shouldering the offense.
They needed to last week with a hobbled backfield. After Makhi went down during Week 2 against Central A&M, sophomore backup Skyler Peterson broke his hand and could only have limited reps.
Ulrey shined and went 11-of-14 for 234 yards and five TDs in Argenta's latest 46-8 triumph over Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond.
Argenta's thus rolled without a hiccup, even knocking off Class 1A defending state champion Arcola 28-14.
Outside its field, Argenta's pristine 5-0 record is hung on a fence.
But the team isn't giving it much of a thought.
“We don't talk about it too much,” Argenta coach Chad Eisenmenger said. “We know where we stand and we also know that five (wins) isn't enough. We want to make sure we get No. 6 on the road here. We're trying to keep our heads on straight and just keep focus. We have four more to go and get as many as we can.
“We have a lot of improvements to work on. Hopefully we'll get healthy soon and play our best football in the next four weeks.”
Nor does Ulrey care about his record-breaking numbers.
"I just want to win," Ulrey said. "You want to go out on top and leave your mark to help better the program. I think our class has put in the work."
They will shoot for 6-0 for the first time since 1999 tonight at Cerro Gordo-Bement and understand they are no longer the underdogs, after missing the playoffs the past two seasons.
“It's new to us,” Ulrey said. “For the last two seasons, we've been less than successful I'd say. I don't think we really know what it feels like to be on top yet. But I think that other teams are going to come out and try to take us down. We're going to have to find another level to our game.”
After that, Argenta visits 4-1 Sangamon Valley and hosts 5-0 LSA in back-to-back weeks.
“I think these next three games against Cerro Gordo, Sangamon Valley and LSA will really test our chemistry and how well we play with each other,” Haltom said.