With the football season over and the playoffs
moving on without the ‘Cats for the third straight season, some might say it’s time to point fingers. But the real story to watch for during the next several months is not the reason why the team fell short, but who will attempt to revive the program and lead next year’s group to a Northwest Conference championship.
The natural place to look for a leader is the quarterback position. By virtue of heading the offense and being behind every snap, the quarterback is almost always one of the most important leaders on the field. The passing game was not as prolific this year as it has been the past five years, and the position is definitely still up for grabs.
After beating out sophomore Cole Franklin for the top spot as quarterback last spring, junior Aaron Boehme was poised to step into his new role. He was filling the shoes of gunslinger Trevor Scharer, the playmaker who graduated last year.
But Boehme went down with a broken collarbone in the first game of the season against rival Hardin-Simmons University. Just like that his season was over, and the ‘Cats were scrambling to come up with a few more points to win their season-opener on the road.
It was midway through the third quarter. Hardin-Simmons was up 21-10, and the game would soon be out of reach if Linfield continued to be shut down. Enter Franklin, who was thrust into the spotlight with little notice. He threw the ball 11 times in the game, scoring one touchdown and scrambled his way out of danger for another 75 yards.
Franklin helped spark the ‘Cats’ offense, which took the lead at 22-21 with fewer than five minutes remaining in the game. But Hardin-Simmons would not be contained and marched the ball down the field for the clinching score.
That first game changed everything this season. With Boehme out, it was Franklin who became the frontman for the offense. Though he threw just two passes during his freshman year,
Franklin learned to manage the offense this season.
He threw the ball 131 times with a 61.8 percent completion rate, scoring five touchdowns and throwing three interceptions along the way. Franklin may not have wowed anyone through the air, but his quick feet
certainly helped keep drives alive. He was one of the team’s most effective rushers, averaging 50 yards per game and finding the end zone four times.
He was impressive to say the least. Franklin seldom seemed flustered on the field, and he managed the big games well. He was a field general, not a superstar, that’s all the ‘Cats could have asked for this season.
Where do they go from here? Who should be the top quarterback in 2009?
In defense of Boehme, he gained the respect of the players and coaching staff before the start of this
season. He looked like a natural. Everyone, myself included, expected him to be the go-to guy.
Boehme spent his first two seasons watching Scharer lead the team. He put in the time during practice, in the film room and on the field when given the chance.
Quarterbacking jobs usually go to the most experienced player, but is Boehme still considered the veteran, having sat out all season?
It seems unfair to have to pick, and maybe Linfield will do just that: not pick.
The tandem quarterback attack worked for the University of Oregon in 2006, with Brady Leaf and Dennis Dixon splitting time. The two-QB system makes it difficult for a defense to prepare, because no two players will manage a game in the same fashion.
If both stay healthy, look for head coach Joe Smith to try this, at least early in the preseason. So long as both Boehme and Franklin don’t try to outshine each other on the field, this system could work.
But the two quarterbacks are agile, dynamic athletes. Maybe the definition of quarterback is too rigid: a standalone, sit-in-the-pocket, throw-the-ball-down-the-field sort of limitation.
What about having Franklin and Boehme on the field for the same snap? Now that’s a trick play, the kind that could work at least a few times before teams caught on and learned to prepare for it in practice.
For now, all we can do is sit back and watch the narrative play out. But nothing is certain. There may be two quarterbacks; there may
One may get injured, both may get injured or perhaps both will stay health.
A quarterback is the leader of the team.
For 2009, it could be Boehme, or it could be Franklin.