FORT WAYNE – One. Two. Three. Four. Five.
Five yellow don’t-hit-the-quarterback jerseys out there now on the green carpet, spaced 5 yards apart like laundry on an invisible line. It’s the first day of fall practice for the Saint Francis football team, and new offensive coordinator Pat Donley is putting his QBs through their paces. Five footballs are snapped; five yellow jerseys drop back, plant their feet, square up in perfect rhythm.
So here it is, then: documented proof that Kevin Donley, Saint Francis’ head coach and Pat’s dad, has undersold things even as he makes a claim that raises eyebrows.
“Wes Hunsucker had an injury last year in preseason that put him behind, or it would have been a trilogy,” the elder Donley says, as the yellow jerseys drop, plant, square up.
This while discussing the radical notion of a two-headed monster at quarterback, which is what circumstance favored Donley with last fall. One head of the monster was Josh Miller, 6-feet and 206 pounds of hard-headed gumption from Kalida, Ohio. The other was David Yoder, 6-3 and 202 pounds of arm and athletic guile from Goshen.
Miller started the season as the Cougars’ No. 1, hurt his ankle, fought it all season long. Yoder stepped into the breach when Miller couldn’t go, threw for a team-high 1,478 yards and 11 touchdowns, helped get the Cougars to a 9-3 record and a piece of the conference title.
One (Miller), according to Kevin Donley, is a “serious warrior,” who threw for 928 yards and seven touchdowns and ran for 338 yards and four more scores.
The other (Yoder) is “the team comedian” whose easygoing nature masks another warrior; in two games against eventual national champion Marian, he threw for 600 yards and six touchdowns – and then, later on, played center field for the Saint Francis baseball team.
It was an odd situation that Donley can’t quite see happening again – although having two (or three) quarterbacks to choose from won’t keep him awake nights.
“We don’t want to rotate three guys,” he says. “We want to pick a guy. But it’s nice if somebody’s having a bad day, you’ve got options.”
Nice, too, that the two options he wound up employing last year meshed so well.
“You know, it’s kind of crazy,” says Miller, a senior, who helped engineer the 25-13 upset of then-No. 1 Saint Xavier with 197 yards passing and two TDs. “We’re all our biggest cheerleaders. We all fight for the same position, but, you know, when David’s out there I’m his biggest fan, and Wes, and vice-versa.”
It doesn’t hurt, either, that their respective skill sets dovetailed so well. Miller killed you with his feet and arm; then in came Yoder to pass you dizzy.
“I like to think I can run, but I’m not quite as good as Josh,” Yoder says. “I’ve always been a pocket passer.
“Use both of us, you never know what you’re gonna get. So I think we’re ready for whatever happens.”
Especially now that the two-headed monster has become a three-headed beast, with Hunsucker, a 6-2, 208-pound junior from Sidney, Ohio, back in the mix.
“We all are very mature in the program,” Miller says. “This is a team sport, and it’s the greatest team sport. There’s 11 people it takes to win every individual play. So it’s not about pride, it’s about the team.
“If (Yoder or Hunsucker) is getting the job done, and at the end of the day we win 14 games and win a national championship, you have nothing to complain about.”