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West QB, teammates hopes to turn Warriors around

By bbY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
June 26, 2012 at 1:26 a.m.

Freshman Gamar Girdy tries to break away from two Victoria East defenders during a 7-on-7 football game on Tuesday evening. The Warriors went 2-8 last year and are looking to improve.

Garrett Rother is sporting a new look this offseason.

The Victoria West quarterback grew a full beard since summer vacation began, opening himself to some good-natured harassment from his teammates.

"I just hate shaving during school, I really do," the senior said. "So, during the summer, I just let it do whatever it does.

"There's been plenty of jokes and everything about it. They're having fun with it."

Some even compared Rother's new appearance to Brett Favre's often scruffy look.

Now, Rother is hoping to keep the comparisons to the future Hall of Famer from ending there.

While he is neglecting to shave, Rother is taking on new responsibilities within the team as he aims to guide the Warriors back to the playoffs after suffering through a 2-8 season last year.

"Coming back from being last year's starting quarterback, it is kind of put upon you to be (in a leadership) role," Rother said following Tuesday's lightning-shortened Victoria 7-on-7 League games at Memorial Stadium. "I've had to get all the guys here and get them going and just keep them coming to workouts, lifting weights and everything and just kind of run things, especially here in 7-on-7.

"You've just got to do what you've got to do and keep everyone on top and think about the big picture the whole time and how everything is going to go and the end result."

In his first season as starting quarterback, Rother completed a little more than half his passes for 1,182 yards, 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, while also leading the Warriors in rushing with 634 yards and five touchdowns.

The fianl outcomes left much to be desired, however, as West concluded 2011 on a five-game losing streak against District 30-4A opponents.

In the offseason, the Warriors have focused on getting stronger, tougher and meaner, according to West head coach Leonard McAngus, and Rother's contributions will be critical to a potential turnaround.

"He's really been developing well as a leader and a competitor," the coach said. "He's a guy that we are going to really lean on hard to lead our kids.

"(Rother providing leadership off the field) is everything. It has to be on the field too, but if you don't do it off the field, they're not going to listen to you on the field."

The Warriors open their season on August 31 at Lockhart and thanks to UIL realignment will be in an extremely competitive district with state powerhouse Calallen.

"We've got to a play a full four quarters (every) game," Rother said. "A lot of games (last year), we cut short.

"We've going to have to learn to be playing the full game, the whole time, going full speed and having guys in there who are going to be going full speed, and I think we will get that out of the younger guys we have this year."

If all goes according to plan, the Warriors will enter the 2012 season as an entirely different team than they were a year ago.

Rother will be sporting a new look on opening night as well.

"That's a summertime deal," McAngus said, referring to Rother's facial hair. "It's against school policy.

"But he has a good-looking beard."

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