Alvarez confident in return to quarterback
ST. JOSEPH (0-2) AT WEIMAR (0-1)
7:30 p.m. at Weimar's Wildcat Stadium
Radio: KNRG, 92.3 FM
St. Joseph head coach Kevin Auten found out just two days before his Flyers were to face Weimar that his starting quarterback, senior Jerry Vasquez, wouldn't be available.
For any other team, that may have been devastating news. St. Joseph, however, is used to the adversity.
"Every week we've had something. Whether it's our big boys getting hurt, Marcus (Rendon) getting sick in the first game and last week with Cameron (Zafereo) being out," head coach Kevin Auten said. "Everybody has stepped up and done a great job."
The Flyers will need several players to step up this week, but none has a bigger task than senior Eric Alvarez, who was handed the keys to the Flyers' offense Wednesday afternoon.
"All he said was 'yes sir,'" Auten said. "If I told him he was going to play defensive line, he'd say yes sir."
This won't be Alvarez's first time lining up under center. He led St. Joseph to a 4-6 overall record a year ago, while accounting for over 1,500 total yards at quarterback.
"I did it last year so I was confident I could do it this year," Alvarez said after Thursday's walkthrough. "Last year we faced a lot of adversity and it showed a little. We all know each other, played together for a year and we're ready to do it again."
It's that relationship with his teammates that will give Alvarez the confidence Friday night. There's also the abundance of talent he possesses that will help.
A running back in Auten's stacked-backfield offense, Alvarez has gained 132 yards on 18 carries in two games, as well as 74 receiving yards. He showed his speed against Schulenburg last week with a 25 yard run around right end, out running several defenders on his way to the end zone.
As a quarterback, Alvarez admits he likes to run the ball, but isn't afraid to go to the air when the opportunity presents itself.
"I like to run the ball, but I do like to pass it if they're open," Alvarez said. "We threw a lot last year. We threw a lot of 10 yard, short type of pass plays."
The loss of Vasquez for the week hasn't just affected the quarterback position. Its ripple effects are being felt across the team.
"Our receivers, with Eric playing quarterback, will have to step up and make some plays," Auten said. "We have some guys that can do that."
And Rendon is one of those players.
Rendon will move into the starting line up against Weimar at both running back and receiver. The senior saw plenty of action a week ago, running the ball eight times and nearly breaking off a long kick off return for a touchdown.
"(Rendon) has great hands and great speed," Auten said. "I have no problem giving any of our running backs the ball."
There are plenty of reasons to believe the offense won't miss a beat following last week's much improved performance. However, there may be a few rough moments.
At the beginning of practices, Alvarez took half of the reps at quarterback, but had to spend more time at running back and receiver as the season approached.
"I haven't done it much this year so I've been getting back into it," Alvarez admitted. "We practiced a lot yesterday."
Another factor is there is one less offensive threat for opposing defenses to worry about.
"Jerry is a great athlete and Eric is a great athlete," Auten said. "It hurts not having both of them on the field at the same time. I'm not going to say that it doesn't because it does. At the same time, I believe our kids have full confidence in each other and they're going to go out there and give it everything they got."
Despite the loss of their starting quarterback, the Flyers do have the confidence needed to win headed into Friday night's road game and it shows in Alvarez.
"I expect to win tomorrow night," he said. "I think we're ready and we've been ready. We just have to have faith in ourselves."