SUMMERVILLE – Summerville football coach Joe Call has had a security blanket for the past four seasons in quarterback Johnathan Bennett.
Bennett took over as the Green Wave’s starting quarterback early in his freshman season and started more than 40 games at Summerville. Bennett is essentially the only starting quarterback that Call has worked with since taking over the program for his legendary grandfather — John McKissick — five years ago.
But Bennett, The Post and Courier’s co-Player of the Year last season, has moved on to Liberty University.
Enter sophomore quarterback Colby Shirey.
Shirey has come up through Summerville’s middle school football program and has started on the Green Wave’s B and junior varsity teams for the past two seasons.
“Johnathan was that guy, that leader in our program for the last four years, and we’re not going to be able to replace him overnight,” Call said. “The biggest difference between Johnathan and Colby is that Johnathan went from middle school right to varsity. Colby has come up through our program and this is kind of the natural progression for him and I think that’s really going to help him as he develops.”
The 5-11, 150-pound Shirey looked like a veteran Friday night at the Dorchester County Showdown football jamboree that featured the Green Wave, Ashley Ridge, Fort Dorchester and Woodland.
The Green Wave defeated Ashley Ridge, 7-0, in the opening quarter of the night at John McKissick Field. In other action, Woodland and Ashley Ridge played to scoreless tie in the second quarter. Fort Dorchester defeated Woodland, 14-0, in the third quarter.
Shirey led the Green on a long touchdown drive on their first offensive possession, capping the 70-yard drive off with a 12-yard TD run.
“Colby was just as calm as he could be on our first drive,” Call said. “We got the ball, he took us right down the field and made a great read on the touchdown run. To me, he showed no sign of being nervous, but that’s the way he’s always been. This is his first time playing under the lights like this, in front of a big crowd, and against a big rival like Ashley Ridge. We’d seen the way he handles things on the B team and on junior varsity, but until you do it at the varsity level, you don’t know how he’s going to react.”
Shirey showed off his quick feet and decision-making ability throughout the quarter, rushing for 65 yards on six carries. He did not complete a pass during his two attempts.
Contrary to what was seen on the field, Shirey said he had plenty of pregame jitters.
“Oh yeah, I was definitely nervous,” Shirey said. “I tried not to show it. I tried not to let everyone know what I was feeling inside. I tried to stay as calm as I could and let all the great players around me just play. After the first play, the first hit, all the nerves go away. That’s the way it’s been my whole life.”
While Shirey might not be as fast as Bennett, Call said the young sophomore might be a step quicker.
“Colby doesn’t have the high-end speed that Johnathan did, but he’s very athletic,” Call said. “He’s shifty and quick. He’s got deceptive speed and I think he’s probably a little further ahead of Johnathan as a passer as this point in his career.”
Having his new quarterback play against Ashley Ridge and Fort Dorhcester Friday night will help in Shirey’s development, Call said.
“We want to get Colby into as many 11-on-11 situations as we can before the first game,” Call said. “It was great to get him two quarters against two different teams. It’s kind of like playing in two different games and we’re getting some of those pregame jitters out of the way. I think that’s crucial as we get closer to the start of the season.”