The varsity football team isn’t lacking talent at the skill positions.
All the Lakers need now is a quarterback to get those guys the football come the Aug. 26 opener at Farmington High School.
Twice-daily or "two-a-day" practices started Monday, and it didn’t take long for the competition for that starting position to heat up between quarterbacks Daryn Byrd and Bejan Dees. The two seniors opened camp by splitting repetitions fairly evenly, supporting the belief that the position is truly open. Head coach Ron Bellamy expects the competition to go all the way to the first week of the regular season.
“We have two quarterbacks that can play,” said the second-year head coach. “We won’t decide anything until probably the Monday before the first game.”
They are competing to replace last year’s starter, Phil Brown, who graduated. Their coach and teammates are giving both young men early positive reviews.
“Both guys are competing for it, and it’s bringing out the best in both of them,” senior center Zack Root said. “And that brings out the best in the team as well.”
Senior wide receiver Cortez Hardrick echoed those thoughts.
“I love the competition,” he said. “We all have to compete, even with each other. When we get on the field (against other teams), we’ll all be on the same team. They are both working hard, staying after practice and coming out even on Saturdays and Sundays to try to get better each day.”
Hardrick is a highly touted prospect who is being recruited by schools from the Mid-American Conference and Division 2 schools such as Grand Valley State University.
He said both quarterbacks pass the ball really well but have different strengths. Dees is a little more mobile and a touch more accurate, while Byrd is the stronger of the two, according to Hardrick.
Bellamy said Byrd and Dees each has the skill set required to take over the team — so the focus is on intangible strengths.
“Leadership, leadership, leadership — that’s really the key for me,” Bellamy said. “You want someone that can lead the team. If your quarterback is tough, typically your team is tough; the team usually takes on the mentality of the quarterback.”
Players expect West Bloomfield to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Whoever wins the quarterback job will need to be ready for the pressure that comes with those high expectations.
Bellamy was a firsthand witness to quarterback battles as a wide receiver on University of Michigan football teams that in 1999 featured Drew Henson sometimes substituting for future NFL MVP Tom Brady.