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Pass-Happy Wolverines Looking for QB To Emerge

Sophomore Henderson, senior Ruiz competing for starting job.

Caleb Henderson is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound strong-armed sophomore who has the physical tools to succeed as a quarterback at the varsity level. However, he’s only played the position for two years and has no experience at high school’s highest level of competition.

Charles Ruiz is a senior who has played quarterback since his "Anklebiter" days, has varsity experience and carries himself with confidence. But while Ruiz can throw the ball effectively, he lacks prototypical size for the position.

Both figure to help the West Potomac football team in some fashion during the 2011 season, but only one will be the Wolverines’ starting quarterback on Sept. 1, when the team hosts cross-town rival Mount Vernon in the season opener. West Potomac will practice for two weeks before competing in its first scrimmage. Head coach Eric Henderson said he should have an idea which quarterback will start after evaluating their efforts through the first scrimmage.

While the quarterback position is important in any offense, a quality trigger man is pivotal in the Wolverines’ pass-happy spread offense.

"[Ruiz has] good feet, he can make plays, he throws a nice, soft ball and he can place balls well," Eric Henderson said. "He can put [throws] on hands, on shoulders, on back shoulders if need be. … All the seniors and juniors know him and obviously there’s a familiarity there.

"Caleb’s a little faster, a little stronger, but doesn’t have the experience that Charles has. He’ll grow and he’ll be fine, [but] every day is an adventure with a sophomore."

Ruiz said the speed of the game has slowed for him since he saw varsity time as a sophomore, and he feels more mature.

"You can’t take it easy," Ruiz said of his mentality while competing for the quarterback job. "You’ve got to work extra hard when someone’s pushing you."

Caleb Henderson, son of head coach Eric Henderson, said he needs to focus on the success of his teammates while trying to win the job.

"Competing for a varsity spot, this is probably one of the toughest things I’ve had to work for," he said. "… I have to be the middle man between my receivers. I can’t be the highlight player on varsity this year. I’ve just got to think about other people instead of myself."

Whoever starts at quarterback should benefit from the talents of explosive senior running back Brandon Johnson, who last season scored 10 rushing touchdowns in a span of three games against Woodson, Lee and T.C. Williams.

The most experienced member of the receiving corps is senior Joseph Marinelli. Sophomore Demornay Pierson is expected to make a big impact, along with senior Tyrone Jenkins, who Eric Henderson referred to as "the best pure athlete in the Patriot" District.

The right side of the offensive line is solidified by three returning starters. Tommy Friederich is back at center, along with right guard Agyenim Agyei-boateng and right tackle Dan Murray. On the left side, Hunter Dennis will likely start at tackle, while the left guard position, formerly manned by the University of Maine-bound Dan Carriker, is open for competition.

On defense, Edward Johnson, who Eric Henderson said is the strongest player on the team, figures to be a force on the line. Inside linebacker Kofi Adom returns after leading the team in tackles last season and safety Tamaric Wilson is back after snagging seven interceptions in 2010. Jenkins will play cornerback.

Chris Blewitt can make field goals longer than 50 yards and can pin opponents deep as a punter.

West Potomac started last season 6-2, including a five-game win streak, but lost its final two games and missed the playoffs. This season, the Wolverines’ first five games include matchups with Centreville, South County and Lake Braddock.

"We’ve been talking about how the first five games are going to shape the rest of the season and we’ve got to take care of business immediately," Eric Henderson said. "… It’s kind of murderer’s row: we go from one tough game to another."