And then there were three.
The Ada High football coaching staff has narrowed down the 2018 quarterback race to three candidates — seniors Walt Labove and Tanner Gilliam and sophomore Zac Carroll.
Ada head coach Chris Berus said there’s no timetable on naming a starter.
“I’m not in any hurry because I believe in all three of them and I know our coaches believe in all three of them and our players believe in all three,” he said.
“It will play out as the candidates will allow it. Right now, we have three guys that we feel bring quality to the quarterback position, and until they see live bullets through scrimmages and until one emerges himself head and shoulders above the others, then we’ll tab that guy the starter. Until we get them in really competitive situations, that will play out as long as it needs to,” he explained.
All three athletes bring a lot to the table for the Cougars and will be used extensively at other positions if they aren’t the starting quarterback.
“All of them are good enough to play other spots. We have really quality guys at that spot,” Berus said.
Junior Jake Shannon — the backup signal-caller in 2017 — and senior Kobe Burgess were in the QB fray during the spring, but they have taken their talents to other positions.
“Jake Shannon is just a better fit for us at the receiver position and has done a quality job of raising his level out there,” Berus said.
Burgess, a standout on the basketball court who is playing football for the first time since junior high, will roam around on offense.
“Athletically, he’s just a special kid and we’ll get the ball in his hands a lot of ways — whether it’s taking direct snaps, whether it’s lining him up in the backfield or lining him up at receiver or returning kicks. He’ll also play on defense,” Berus said.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he won’t line up at quarterback on occasion.
“I’m not saying you won’t see him taking snaps,” Berus said with a mischievous grin. “He’s going to be a factor at a lot of different spots, and (defenses) are going to have to account for him wherever he is. We feel like it’s going to be better to have that diversity with him. Having him playing all those different spots is going to be advantage Ada Cougars.”
As for Gilliam, Carroll and Labove, Berus is excited to see how it plays out.
“Time will tell. Time will give us that answer,” he said.
• Depth chart decisions: There are plenty of other spots in the Cougar lineup that will be up for grabs this fall.
That means Ada’s coaches will spend a lot of time evaluation, at least early in fall workouts.
“The kids will always establish that. If you have a lot of competition at positions, then obviously it will take longer to establish that depth chart,” Berus said. “The kids will start determining that from day one with the attitude they show up with, the effort they give in practice and how well they absorb the playbook. All those things are part of the evaluation process.”
• One eye on Ardmore: The Cougars open the season Aug. 31 in Ardmore. Berus said talk about the Tigers will begin earlier this season.
“Something we’ll do a little bit differently this year, just because we have all hands on deck, we’ll start our Ardmore preparation from the very beginning,” he said. “But you’re balancing preparing for Week 1 with finding out who’s going to be your guys. There’s a lot of evaluation that’s going to be going on over the next two to three weeks.”