Tokay High football coach Michael Holst and Liberty Ranch football coach Anthony Linebaugh each have two quarterbacks who are looking to start this upcoming season.
On Thursday, Holst’s Tigers and Linebaugh’s Hawks auditioned them and other players at Hubbard Field in a series of 7-on-7 games against each other and Lathrop and Valley of Sacramento squads. This was the Tigers’ second and final edition of Thursday Night Lights at Tokay’s revamped football stadium. Each team squared against each team 20 minutes each.
“It was really nice to get a chance to compete against other teams, see some different schemes that you don’t always see in practice,” Holst said.
Tokay, which went winless last fall, faced Lathrop first, followed by Liberty Ranch and Valley.
One of the Tigers’ two quarterbacks returns with experience. But another is bidding for playing time. Juniors Jacob Varney, who was moved up as a sophomore early last season, and Ty Didonato, who became the new quarterback on the junior varsity team after Varney moved up, took snaps in Tokay’s games.
“They are both competing for a spot right now; there’s nothing set in stone,” said Holst of Varney and Didonato.
Both quarterbacks connected on most of their passes to many wide receivers and running backs. Joseph Filipini, another junior who was moved up to the varsity level last fall, caught the bulk of Varney and Didonato’s passes.
In eight games last fall, Varney completed 55 of 126 passes for 812 yards, four touchdowns and eight interceptions.
“He has some experience,” said Holst of Varney. “Both are competing. They are taking reps.”
One of the strengths that Holst was impressed with his two quarterbacks is their continued growth on reading defenses.
“They are both understanding their progression and where they are going and when they are suppose to go,” Holst said. “They are starting to understand coverage a little bit better and giving them the heads up on what it’s like to come open pre-snap.”
Tokay faced Liberty Ranch in the second meeting of Thursday Night Lights, on the south end of Hubbard Field. The Tigers grounded the Hawks on both sides of the ball; Tokay scored four times and held Liberty Ranch to no touchdowns during their game.
“Our linebackers and their zone drops,” Holst said. “Dropping with more depth and communicating better. They did a much better job at that today.”
Before facing Tokay, Liberty Ranch (4-6 last season) faced Valley and ended against Lathrop. Linebaugh is looking at two quarterbacks in Aidan Carr and Isiah Ricci, both of whom are juniors. Gone is quarterback Matthew Hopper, who started the last two seasons. Hopper graduated from Liberty Ranch earlier this month.
Today, Tokay and Lodi will take part in the one-day Stagg Passing Tournament at Stagg High. Lodi High is also competing at that tournament.
Next Tuesday through Friday, Tokay will compete at the annual Lake Tahoe Football Camp. Former Tokay High coach Louis Franklin, who is now the South Tahoe coach, runs the non-contact camp.
Liberty Ranch will host Lodi in a 7-on-7 passing game at Hawks Stadium next Wednesday. The two schools meet again at Don Womble Field on Wednesday, June 26.
Contact Mike Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.