Local Quarterbacks Follow Similar Paths to Success

Few positions in sports are harder to play than a football quarterback. Successful high school quarterbacks must be able to read defenses and repeatedly make difficult throws. They need to form close relationships with their receivers and offensive lineman and be able to trust them to execute. Signal callers must demonstrate consistent improvement to keep their starting jobs and are counted on to provide leadership.

A number of local high school teams are receiving strong quarterback play this season. Christian Rider (Ellington), Keyion Dixon (Glastonbury), Darius Bailey (Cromwell/Portland), Cody Ouellette (Tolland), and Danny Cavallaro (Rocky Hill) have all led their team to solid starts, with Cavallaro doing so in his first season as a starter. While each has a unique set of skills, their path to success has followed a similar pattern.

Rider, Dixon, Bailey, Ouellette and Cavallaro have each improved significantly from their first days as starters to the present. This improvement can be attributed to becoming more comfortable in the role and better at reading defenses. Each credited watching video with giving them a better understanding of opponents.

My decision making and ability to read defenses and decide where to throw the ball is where I’ve improved the most,” Dixon said. “I’m now able to read the cornerbacks and see where the weaknesses are in coverage.”

“Over time, I have become much better at knowing our playbook,” Rider said. “From studying film, I’m able to see the soft spots in defenses and then attack them during the game.”

“Now that I’m in my second season, I understand my reads more and am comfortable making certain throws,” Bailey said.

Rider, Dixon, Bailey, Ouellette and Cavallaro each said they have a strong relationship with their receivers and credited them with making them better.

“I have played with my receivers since youth football,” said Rider, who has led Ellington to a 5-0 start. “I know their biggest strengths and what plays they can make, and have all the confidence in the world they will make catches. Without my receivers, who would I be?”

“I’ve only played a few games with our receivers, but I’ve worked with them a lot in practice and we understand one another well,” Cavallaro said. “I can trust them to get open and make big plays for our team.”

This group of quarterbacks also said they possess strong relationships with their offensive lines and gave them credit for the QBs development.

“I love my offensive line,” said Dixon, who has led the Tomahawks to a 3-1 start. “They have improved significantly as a unit, and I love each lineman’s approach and effort. Because of them, I’ve improved my footwork and usually have a lot of time to throw or run.”

“I’m always communicating with the offensive line about how we can run plays better and slow down defenses,” said Bailey, whose Panthers are also 3-1. “They provide me with good time to make plays and find receivers.”

“You must trust your o-line to be successful, and I do,” Ouellette said. “Being on the same page makes it much easier to run the offense.”

Finally, Rider, Dixon, Bailey, Ouellette and Cavallaro praised their head coaches, saying they helped them develop and improve.

“Coach (Sean) Byrne has helped me gain a better understanding of the offense and plays we run,” Rider said. Ouelletted added  “Coach (Patrick) Cox always encourages me when I do well and tells me how I can run a play better or handle certain situations.’’

The five all take pride in their leadership roles as well.  “I always try to set a good example for teammates on and off the field,” Dixon said. “I focus on working hard and being positive.”

Rider, Dixon, Bailey, Ouellette and Cavallaro are all determined to continue improving for the remainder of the season . No matter what happens going forward. However, they know they will cherish the memories of playing with their teammates.

“I will remember being out there with my teammates in practices and games,” Rider said. “There’s no one I’d rather spend time with. They’re my brothers.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *