JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — A new starting quarterback will be in the shotgun when the Marble Falls High School football team kicks off the 2015 season.
Cade Cool and Robert Atkinson have been taking repetitions at the spot during 7-on-7 games the past several weeks.
One of those players will follow in the footsteps of four former starters who all went on to play college football:
• Thor Woerner, class of 2009, who was a linebacker at Abilene Christian;
• Zed Woerner, class of 2012, who is the starting quarterback at Tarleton State University;
• Mike Richardson, class of 2013, who is a receiver at Abilene Christian;
• Brennen Wooten, class of 2016, who is finishing his final season at San Angelo Central and has said he will enroll at Texas Christian in January 2016. He committed to the Horned Frogs last summer. The Wootens moved so Brennen’s father, Josh Wooten, could be closer to his place of employment.
Some consider quarterback to be the hardest position in all sports to learn. While the Woerners and Richardson said they don’t know that from experience, they did say being a quarterback comes with plenty of accolades and obstacles.
“It’s a very special position,” Thor Woerner said. “It can be very rewarding.”
Zed Woerner understands the hurdles set before Cool and Atkinson.
He became the starting quarterback the year after his brother graduated. The starting receivers all played with Thor a year earlier. Just like back then, the most experienced offensive group in 2015 will be the receivers.
“Honestly, 80 percent of it, you go in and work and earn yourself a spot and create respect and trust around you,” Zed Woerner said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Thor Woerner, who is attending chiropractic school at Parker University in Dallas, had played on the Mustangs varsity football team as a freshman linebacker. He became the starting quarterback as a junior.
He believes having an experienced receiving corps and running back is a plus for a new quarterback.
“That experience with the older guys helps,” he said. “It translates with some of the older guys. It’s still the same game. It gets a little faster.”
Richardson noted that activities such as playing video games together, swimming and other things allowed him to get to know his teammates. That made it easier to communicate during a game.
Thor Woerner added that having teammates, both older and younger than him who were eager to get better and played with heart, was crucial for the team.
“Kids played because they wanted to be out there,” he said. “Kids need to spend time off the field to get to know the team and develop a rhythm and a trust.”
Knowing the playbook, including every route and block, is key to success, Richardson said.
“I always knew what’s going on and what the purpose of the play is,” he said. “Your receivers don’t always know. They might have to make adjustments and help me with certain routes. Get out there and learn your plays. Make sure you know the offense like the back of your hand.”
Thor Woerner said it’s not possible to over-prepare, noting that watching film to look for tendencies slows the speed and helps quarterbacks quickly make sound decisions.
It’s also important, Richardson said, to realize nothing takes the place of an actual game. Coaches won’t be able to simulate the speed of a contest during practices. But that’s where studying film and the playbook and working at the white board are invaluable, he added.
And undergoing strength-and-conditioning workouts before fall camp begins in August also is vital, Richardson said.
“I definitely think it should be done,” he said. “I think they should be working out with the team and trying to stay in shape. Every team in our district will be working out. They need to be doing that if they want to compete.”
All three noted it’s important for quarterbacks to be leaders when the moment calls for it.
“They want a guy they know is a leader when the ball is in his hands,” Zed Woerner said. “They don’t want you to be overbearing.”
“The big thing for a quarterback is you have to be a leader, even though there are others who are going to be around him,” Thor Woerner said. “He still has to be the leader of the group and feed off of kids who have been there and learn while leading them.”
And above all, they said, be open to accepting coaching.
“That’s the number one thing,” Zed Woerner said. “You have to keep your head and stay calm. Respect your teammates and treat them right. Step up when you need to be a leader. And don’t always be the one to be pushy. Follow those three points, and the rest of it comes with playing.”