High School Sports

Spring football | Three quarterbacks vying to become Bayshore's starter

BRADENTON -- During any Bayshore practice this spring, the Bruins can trot out three distinctly different quarterbacks.

There's Zorion Brooks, the diminutive and shifty rising senior who looks like he'd be more at home as a slot receiver. There's Yandy Rocamora, another rising senior who is a converted wide receiver. And there's Ryan O'Neill, a rising sophomore who fits the mold of a traditional quarterback.

For the second straight spring, Bayshore is breaking in a new quarterback, and this year the Bruins are trying to figure out who their next signal-caller will be. Rocamora and Brooks, a pair of wide receivers, have both taken snaps under center this spring, as has junior varsity player O'Neill.

Brooks and Rocamora make up for their lack of quarterback experience with athletic ability and familiarity with the varsity game. Brooks has only played quarterback in flag football and Rocamora, whom Freeman said is third on the depth chart, hasn't played the position since youth football, either.

But both fit well in Bayshore's read option-heavy offense. Brooks, who is only 5-foot-5, is exceptionally quick and shifty, able to use his size to slip through holes and remain unseen behind the offensive line. Rocamora mixes size with speed -- he's nearly 6-foot -- to make plays with his feet and cover up the Bayshore offensive line's lack of size.

"A mobile quarterback would help," Rocamora said. "But a guy like Ryan, you can't go wrong with him, either."

O'Neill is the only one of the three with high school quarterback experience, even if it did come on the JV team. He's a more traditional pocket passer who also has some athletic ability to make plays with his legs.

On JV, he mixed those two skills, dropping back to either throw or scramble. As he jumps to varsity, he not only has to get used to the size and speed of older players, but also a new offense with an option element.

"I'm getting there. I'm not the best yet, but I feel like I've progressed," O'Neill said. "I've got to work on my pitch."

Freeman said he isn't sure what the Bruins will do with O'Neill if he doesn't win the starting job. Because O'Neill will only be a sophomore, Bayshore could put him on JV to start the season and have him play varsity when necessary.

That decision would leave the Bruins with the two converted receivers running the offense with Brooks likely claiming the starting job. Rocamora says he still prefers to play wide receiver and defense, a side of the ball he wouldn't be able to play if he were the quarterback, too.

"But it's good to be the commando sometimes," he said.

For now, at least, Brooks is the one who's more intrigued by the idea of playing quarterback. During Thursday's practice, Brooks received the majority of snaps -- although that was partly because O'Neill was dealing with an undisclosed injury, Freeman said -- and put together some of the offense's best plays with his running ability.

He feels good about his ability to make plays like those. Now he just needs to hone his passing and get used to the leadership role that comes with being a quarterback of a team that went 1-8 a year ago.

"And having my team come together as one instead of us arguing and fighting each other," Brooks said. "I'm just trying to have everybody come together so we can actually win this year."