SHELBYVILLE — After missing his entire junior season following shoulder surgery, Shelbyville's Kentrell Beck is back for his senior season — and at quarterback.
Beck said he's up to about 205 pounds after spending a bulk of his time in the weight room and is more in shape than he thought he'd be after missing an entire season.
“There’s a lot to make up for," Beck said. "It’s like really,” he paused, looking for words, “it’s not as hard to make up for as I thought it would be. I thought I’d be out of shape, I’d lose a lot of muscle and speed and everything. I thought my recruiting would go down, but really it never did."
He's recently received an offer from McKendree University, where his former quarterback Turner Pullen is in contention to win the starting job after taking a redshirt last year. Beck is also in contact with Northern Iowa and Iowa State, he said. He's also been to camps at Northern Illinois. He has no official visits lined up.
As a freshman and sophomore, he established himself as one of the top receivers in the area, but will switch to quarterback in an effort for the Rams to get the ball in the hands of their best player as often as possible.
“It’s a big transition going from receiver to quarterback. It’s like you have more control, you run the field pretty much," Beck said.
Shelbyville coach Bill Duckett doesn't expect Beck to think about his shoulder much beyond the first game.
“I’m sure it's going to be mentally in his head, that first hit or two in the first game," Duckett said. "I think he’ll get over it quickly. He’s a competitor. He’ll get out there. He missed a whole season. He’s ready to go and get football back on the mind."
Braves have experience
MOUNT ZION — Ashton Summers carries himself with confidence. The Mount Zion junior quarterback has a year of experience under his belt, throwing for 1,029 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions last year.
He's got experience and returning starters with talent. There's a continuity in the Braves' offense in head coach Patrick Etherton's fourth season in charge.
“Much more (confidence) than last year," Summers said. "The experience factor is almost everything in this sport, it feels like.
“We have a lot of guys coming back this year and I have a better understanding of the game. It’s slowing down finally."
Etherton says there's a culture in place where the players know exactly what's expected of them. The players spend the winter working out together and lifting in the weight room, and Summers and his receivers got extra throws in the offseason. Last year's 22-6 loss in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs was an eye-opener.
“(Summers) got drilled a few times and kept getting up," Etherton said. "For us to end with that kind of game ... our kids know there’s a long way to go to get to that point. They’ve had a lot of motivation and just a desire to be good. Their want is, as a coach, that’s what you want."
Summers has high expectations for the group.
“I feel like we have the capability of going 9-0 and winning conference," he said. "I expect nothing less than that, honestly."
Pana's new QB
PANA — There's a new guy under center, or, well, above center for Pana. After the graduation of quarterback Jack Armstrong (1,775 yards, 18 TDs), 6-foot-5 senior Jonah Lauff steps into the starting quarterback job.
“It’s pretty good," Lauff said. "I’ve been working on lots of passing and trying to get everything established."
Lauff has played quarterback before, but missed his freshman season with a knee injury and missed a few games last year with a hip injury. But he's healthy this summer and looks impressive. On Wednesday against Central A&M in a 7-on-7, he delivered a perfect deep pass for a touchdown on the first play of the game.
“Great throwing mechanics, very accurate with the ball," Pana coach Trevor Higgins said.
Lauff is comfortable taking over an offense with plenty of speedy receivers. He has Bryce Edminston, Wes Kile, Drake Spracklen, Cameron Owens and Jacob Klein.
“We’ve got probably five or six fast receivers that we plan on using a lot this year and stretching defenses out," Higgins said. "That’s our goal."
Raiders have plenty of backs
Central A&M returns a ton of skill position players, including quarterback Connor Heaton and receiver Jacob Paradee, but the running back position is up in the air.
The Raiders will need to replace Gus McCoy, who rushed for 757 yards and seven touchdowns last season while also helping as a blocker.
A&M coach Brent Weakly has options. Players like Hunter Gregory, Brady Patton and Dalton Nichols are options in Week 1, and sophomore James Paradee will factor into the mix when he heals from a hand injury.
Patton stepped in when McCoy missed the Clinton game last season and handled the blocking duties. Weakly calls Gregory a "wild card."
“I’m sure by Week 3, we’ll at least have some form of a rotation figured out," Weakly said. "I’d see Weeks 1 and 2 are going to be: Go three plays until you’re tired or you’re out there for the series, then it’s the next guy up."