GHSF Daily's Four Questions feature historically poses the same questions to a different Georgia head coach each issue. This season, coaches are being asked Four Questions tailored to current events. Today's interviewees are coaches with freshmen starting at quarterback on top-10 teams. The question is the same for each: What's it like giving the keys to the offense to a freshman?
Coaches with freshman quarterbacks
1. Rabun County offensive coordinator/QB coach Jaybo Shaw on Gunner Stockton: "Gunner has been phenomenal for us. He has played beyond his years to this point. He puts in countless hours in the offseason and strives to continue to chase greatness. When it boils down to it, age is just a number, and that is what we have preached to him from day one. He is a very special/rare player. There are not many Gunner Stocktons walking around. As good as a player as Gunner is, he is an even better young man. Whether it's on the field, in the school or in the community, you can always count on him to represent them all in a positive light. Gunner's leadership has been a huge factor in why we have had the success we have had on offense. His teammates do not look at him as a freshman. His command of the offense continues to get better as the season progresses. Coach [Lee] Shaw has established the feeling of 'Tradition Never Graduates' with this football program, and Gunner has stepped up to the role and has handled the pressure/expectations like a veteran. It always helps when he is a coach's son [of Rabun defensive coordinator Rob Stockton]. Gunner has been on some type of athletic field ever since he could walk. Most importantly, he eats, sleeps, and breathes Rabun County football."
2. Savannah Country Day head coach Dennis Coyle on Barry Kleinpeter: "Barry is a mature young man that we began working with during his eighth-grade season because we saw the potential in him. Barry is a humble young man that works hard to get better each day at practice. I like how he was performing in our preseason practice but knew he was going to be good this season when we traveled to ECI and he had made several throws in our first scrimmage. I was worried that the lights might be too bright, but he has handled it extremely well and has been very humble and very coachable. Barry has the potential to be a special player for our football program, and I look forward to working with him and watching him develop with our QB coach Hughes Barber and the rest of the staff. He has a strong arm and football IQ, which will have college coaches looking at him early. Barry earned the respect of his teammates with the success he has had in these first four games and by the way he practices and carries himself around campus on a daily basis."
3. Thomasville head coach Zach Grage on Chad Mascoe: "Starting a freshman quarterback like Chad is really easy since he really does nothing to resemble a typical freshman. He was able to come in and earn the job over a couple of upperclassmen, but it really has made us that much better because all of them play other positions for us. My offensive staff has done a great job bringing Chad along, and he has really just scratched the surface of what we will ask him to do before it is all said and done. What's impressive about Chad is his humility and willingness to be coached. It is common today for a young man with his accolades to blow off coaching, since they already 'know everything.' Even with his offers and varsity success to this point, he is a 'yes sir, no sir' kid who asks a ton of questions and wants nothing more than to help his teammates win. He also approaches each day with a smile on his face. We preach energy and body language here at Thomasville, and he is the epitome of what we are looking for. I have to pinch myself and smile a few times a day knowing I have the opportunity for the next three years to watch Chad develop in every facet of his life. He earned the respect from his teammates and coaches when he walked in the door. Chad just has that 'it' factor. He was actually chosen as a captain by our coaches after summer practice, but I would not let a freshman be a captain quite yet. I may have to lift that rule before the end of the season."
4. Ware County head coach Franklin Stephens on Thomas Castellanos: "Any time you start a freshman quarterback, there will be concerns about how much he can handle mentally and physically. Thomas has done a great job with both of these attributes. He absorbs what he's being coached and physically is a special athlete. Naturally, he makes typical freshman mistakes, but that is expected. You'd like to think that when you start a freshman QB that you will work him into the game plans at a slow rate. You definitely, don't want to overload him with too much information, leading to mistakes. Fortunately, Thomas has been producing at a high level while playing a major part in weekly game plans. Further, the QB touches the ball more than anyone and must be able to function at a high level. We expect Thomas to continuously play a vital part in our weekly plans, helping us to have a successful season. The ceiling is very high for this young man if he continues to work hard, stay humble and continually grow into a leader for our team."
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com