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2017 KHQA Barnstorm Tour-Stop 23: QUINCY HIGH BLUE DEVILS

The Blue Devils let loose during Oklahoma Drill on the first day of IHSA Contact

DUERRISMS BARNSTORM NOTES FROM OUR FRIDAY AND SATURDAY VISITS WITH THE QUINCY BLUE DEVILS

THE SKINNY: Rick Little's crew lost in heartbreaking fashion to Willowbrook last season, fumbling away a lead with two minutes left. The Defending Western Big Six Conference champions graduated 15 starters from a starting line-up that finished the 2016 campaign 8-2. That established, the QHS Staff won't lack for options moving forward. Success has created an excitement level that has swelled the roster ranks to just over 100 players and more than 50 total Freshmen.

THE MAYOR: When his football playing days finally come to an end, I am convinced that Jirehl Brock should seek Political Office at some level. The Blue Devils much coveted Junior Halfback has got to be one of the most popular and well liked dudes on this side of the state. And I am not just talking about the Division One Recruiters that have flocked to his doorstep. He's an engaging guy who seems to get it at a level beyond his age, while yet still retaining his fun loving side. Outlier attention tends to bring out the haters or jealousy in some corners, but you really struggle even in rival camps to find people who have an ill word to say about the kid. So yeah, it's one of those good guys doing good things stories that seems rare in this day and age. I found it amusing during Oklahoma Drills this morning that when the coach paired up Jirehl heads-up against stud QHS Linebacker Brock Baird, Jirehl quipped "I don't through guys, I run away from them." Quality stuff. He's done a really nice job assuming the leadership mantle to a good young backfield. So much so today that Defensive Coordinator Jose Quintero jokingly chided him for giving trade secrets to another back who was running at the spot while Brock was on the sidelines. Jirehl's knowledge of High School Football is good enough to do my job as well. As I said coming into this, the guy knows everyone.

THE OTHER GUYS: So year, Jirehl is going to draw a ton of Defensive attention. He has almost since the jump and no one has successfully stopped him yet. That established, Rick Little likes the alternative cards he can deal at teams who might not be aware of all the weapons in the arsenal, given what QHS graduated from the backfield. It won't get a ton of play in the preseason media talk, but Wing-T attacks are generally only as good as the Fullback who fronts them. Jake Kelley takes over for Devin Smith and has proven incredibly effect. He's a straight-line runner, for sure but an exceptionally determined and strong one who is going to hit creases, gain constant positive yardage, and most importantly I think for the Devils m.o. here: wear down Linebackers with his willingness to drop the shoulder and run through guys. He's a tough customer. You will see plenty of both Jordan Kyles and rising younger Adonte Crider here as well. Crider is the latest phenom to roll of the assembly line here. He's an elegant runner, a long strider whose speed is very deceptive. And he's possessed of good balance, as he proved today in catching a pass, getting hit by two defenders simultaneously, bouncing off both and taking the ball to the house. Kyles is the fill in the blank guy here, with enough versatility to play a number of roles. Factor in the return of dynamic WR/RB type Aaron Shoot (who now holds a D-2 Basketball offer from Wisconsin Parkside) and the mix here is one that defense will at least have to pay mind beyond just the obvious.

TACKLING THE PROBLEM: The addition of Joey Chapel at Tackle suddenly gives the Blue Devils bookend size at Tackle in a position of need. Owen Shelton has looked very good in the two sessions I've watched; both an offensive and defensive day. The interior presence from Guard to Guard is better than we expected, fronted by unsung Center Dax Floweree. The Blue Devil alumni crew is also touting the strides made by Matthew Dade (thanks Tyree) as potential game changer here as well.

AT THE HELM: Senior Logan Ross and Junior Donovan Prost are different kinds of quarterbacks but I think Rick Little likes both. Ross got the first 1st team snaps today, if that means anything. He stands tall in the pocket, threw a couple of nice out patterns, and runs with the mindset of a 250 fullback. Prost is creative and athletic and according to Little, even a bit Johnny Football-esque in the feel of his improvisational skills when plays break down. It's not hard to talk yourself into either option with conviction.

THE BAIRD NECESSITIES: Linebacker Brock Baird is a favorite, not just because he is such an efficient tackler in rangy frame, but because if you talk to him for any length of time it becomes impossibly evident just how much he wants to be great; how much thought he's put into every nuance of not only playing the position but being a leader and a rainmaker. And those kind of players of gravity have been the center piece of the better Devil defenses over the last decade. Easy to like a kid who cares this deeply about his craft.

THEY DID NOT GO UNNOTICED: Two players who may not be on your radar who I thought gave exceptional efforts in the two sessions I watched this week were Senior Defensive Back Jayden Bauerly and Linebacker Masen Blakemore. Bauerly fearlessly stuck his nose in on every rep of Inside Run drills against Offensive Lineman and wrapped and coiled extremely well on his tackles. He's not very big but there was not backdown in him. He held his ground well. And he fought while tackling efficently. Blakemore opened the scrimmage with a highlight reel TFL on Brock and he's just not a kid who is going to give any at all to running backs or Offensive Lineman. Superb functional lower body speed and good quickness of the ball. Can't tell you where they will fall on the depth chart yet but I thought they deserved a shout for attending their business extremely well in the limited window I got to watch them


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