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Champs' QB battle carries team through June

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After every season, football teams are tasked with assessing players to replace the leadership and on-field impact of those graduating.

Coach Jake Tyre and the Cascade Champions are no strangers to this task.

The senior class of 2020 was small in numbers, but big in leadership and production for Cascade, with Seth Countess being one of those to replace.

Countess played both sides of the ball for the Champions as a defensive back and quarterback.

Cascade has been known for its attack on the ground for years, so skill set under center takes a backseat to leadership.

To Tyre, Countess was a generational player.

"Seth's shoes to fill are big. Across the board in every sport, a kid like Seth doesn't come around very often. He was a great leader, and the guys are having to pick it up."

Last season if it wasn't Countess taking snaps, then it was then-junior Elijah Arnold.

Arnold has the most experience at quarterback for the Champions, but there is sure to be a competition once the dead period ends.

"Right now, we have a three-man battle. Of course, Elijah Arnold played it last year. He's a senior and has played quarterback throughout. Ryan Inmon is gonna play some quarterback as well, but we will probably use him as more of a shotgun, (Tim)Tebow-type. Xamarion Dixon will get some snaps as more of a wildcat quarterback," Tyre said.

As the old saying goes, there is strength in numbers.

Tyre believes they might use more than one quarterback in some capacity.

"We're going find something out of those three, whether it's a combination or not. I don't have a problem playing multiple quarterbacks as long as we're getting it done."

Last season, Arnold saw some success as the signal-caller.

In his first start versus East Robertson last season, he rushed 22 times for 102 yards and completed 5 of 9 passes for 56 yards.

The Champions came up short, but Arnold proved he was an asset under center.

"Elijah does a really good job of managing the offense. He knows where everything is supposed to go. He doesn't do anything wrong," Tyre said.

Playing in smaller divisions means the teams aren't blessed with an overload of players to choose from. Most of the time, some have to play on both sides of the ball, but it can also prove to be helpful. That rings true for the Champions.

"Elijah and Ryan are both linebackers, so they have to be tough. It gives you that bulldog mentality that you can't be afraid to get hit. If you mess up on offense, you have to play defense, so it gives you a chance to forget about it," Tyre said.

In years past, the run game has been the Champions' bread and butter.

Passing the ball requires a certain amount of intangibles and personnel; something the Champions aren't accustomed to. With a healthy group of returning players, Tyre expects to air it out more than usual.

"To me, it's a whole lot easier to run the ball than to throw the ball. We'll throw the ball more this year than we have the last couple of years with the guys getting more comfortable in the system."

For now, it is a waiting game as teams across the state are on break with the dead period. Practices and workouts for the Champions will resume on July 12th.

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