Clear Fork – Quarterback is a position often bestowed upon veteran leaders at the high school level.
Westside’s Jaxon Cogar has been playing the position well since his freshman year.
Now coming into his junior season he’ll need to embrace the leadership role that comes with it. That hasn’t necessarily been the case in years past. As a sophomore he had a stable of veteran skill players that included Ethan Blackburn, Daniel Reed and Spencer Kenney. With that trio, amongst others, gone, it’s his turn to be a leader.
He’s well aware of that.
“Last year that was a great group of guys to help me get my feet under me,” Cogar said. “Now I know these guys we have are young and I’ve got to be more vocal and I’m working on that every day.”
“Last year being a sophomore he was kind of afraid to step up and say anything,” Westside head coach Tyler Dunigon said. “This year, man I haven’t even had to tell him to do nothing. He’s orchestrating guys, putting them where they’re supposed to be and they’re listening to him and gravitating to him. He’s absolutely taken that role of a leader.”
Beyond that, Cogar’s taken charge when it comes to designing the playbook around a different team. Dunigon, who served as the offensive coordinator last year, has been more than willing to hear his quarterback’s concerns, aspirations and inputs.
As a 6-foot-4 dual-threat quarterback that can pick up chunks of yardage with his legs or push the ball vertically with ease, his input has been important.
“Jax did help me put together some of the offense,” Dunigon said. “Of course every coach is going to do things how they want to do it, but you also have to be able to put each player in their best position. If we’re weak up front, we’re probably going to be doing a lot of quick passes and screens – things that take some pressure off the line. If we’re strong up front we’re probably running the football. If we’ve got blazing speed outside, we’re getting loose outside and cutting it.
“I don’t want to get caught in a specific scheme, I just want to put guys in the best position to make plays and I think Jax having input has helped with that.”
Growing up in an era where the pass has ruled the college and professional games, Cogar is fond of those approaches. His personal additions to the playbook have reflected that.
“The game’s obviously changing every year,” Cogar said. “We’re putting in RPOs and any kind of new pass game schemes I see, I just talk to him about. I love the vertical stuff, the backside slant. I like the RPOs because you can even run your set plays with them.”
The RPO, or run-pass option, is a design where the quarterback can choose to hand it off post-snap or throw it based on how the defense reacts to the offensive line, which usually run blocks. If a defender reacts to the run action and vacates his position, the quarterback can throw a quick pass behind the defender. It can be determined pre-snap as well based on the number of players in the box, but Cogar’s growth as a quarterback has allowed him to make that jump and assess the defense.
As a result Dunigon has thrown more at him and the early returns indicate he’s in for a big season.
“As a player the thing we’ve worked on most is not really reading the coverage, but making sure we’re right,” Dunigon said. “As long as we don’t throw it to them we’re right. I’ve tried to get it down to where each kid knows what blade of grass they’re supposed to be at. And where Jaxon has improved the most is not locking on to a target. But now we’re giving him whole-field reads and he’s going through progressions. Without pads, what little blitz simulation we could do he’s getting the ball where it needs to go. The size, the strength and the arm strength – that stuff he’s going to have but we’re working on his mental game. Once he gets that down and masters the offense, the sky’s the limit for him.”
Contact Tyler Jackson at email@example.com, call him at 304-731-5542 and follow on Twitter @tjack94