With Cedric Nettles under center last year, Jonesboro posted a 9-2 record. But Nettles’ tenure is now over due his graduation and junior Mario Atkinson is expected to pick up where he left off.
“Mario has stepped in and taken over the quarterback spot,” Jonesboro coach Tim Floyd said. “He’s just got to keep getting better and better. This summer we did a lot of 7-on-7s so him and the receivers got a lot of work in together which was our main goal for going to some of these 7-on-7s this summer.
“He’s stepping in quite nicely at that quarterback spot and it helps that we have those skilled guys like Taurean [Ferguson] and Cam [Sutton] out there so he doesn’t have to be the man,” Floyd said. “All he has to do is step in and play quarterback.”
Meanwhile, North Clayton is facing a similar situation after the graduation of three-year starter Dennis Johnson. However, head coach Max Wiltz had not named a starter like Floyd at press time.
“We have a three-way battle for quarterback right now,” said Wiltz, who is entering his second season as coach. “We will probably have a two-quarterback system.”
Senior Jeremy Daniels, junior Quenterious Page and sophomore Isaac Thomas are competing for the job.
“Isaac has a rifle for an arm but until we find a solidified starter, we will just go with two quarterbacks,” Wiltz said.
Also in the realigned 4-AAAA region with Jonesboro and North Clayton but without the quarterback questions are the Riverdale Raiders, who fell a game shy of the .500 mark in Olten Downs’ first season last year.
“Our big focus this year is just finishing the drill,” Downs said. “We just want to continue to work on our consistency and stability in our program. We lost to both Jonesboro and North Clayton by a combined eight points so we feel real confident going into those ball games.”
While the Cardinals are seeking their second straight playoff appearance and the Eagles are aiming for their fifth consecutive appearance, the Raiders are hoping to end a six-year postseason drought with Steve Harris returning as the starting quarterback.
“Riverdale is much improved,” Floyd said.