On top of being a football fan, I have also played played the game in a few different provinces. The first thing I noticed when I moved on from high school football in New Brunswick to division 1 CEGEP football in Quebec, was the Quarterback play. I remember my first practice in Quebec, seeing 4 Quarterbacks in camp that could all throw the ball incredibly well, it was something I had never seen before. I finished my high school football in 2007 and I am pretty confident in saying that back in 2005, 2006 and 2007, all football teams at the high school level in New Brunswick ran the ball about 80-90% of the time. I got to Quebec and they had an air raid type offence which was something I had never seen before. In my time at the high school level, the only team in NB that was quite good through the air was the Fredericton High School Black Kats, who had Andrew Hickey at the Quarterback position. Andrew eventually moved on to playing football at Mount Allison and he was being used as an H-back. Andrew was a raw athlete who had so many dangerous skills, he left the Mounties and moved on to Waterloo, and eventually STFX. Andrew was used as a Quarterback at both schools but the only stats I can find is 69 yards total passing. I do however find plenty of receptions which means he was once again asked to change position, this time to receiver.
I always asked myself years after, how a Quarterback as good as Hickey was in high school would end up changing positions. Believe me, this guy was really good. It’s a similar story for my Quarterback in 2004 at Mathieu-Martin. His name was Andrew Adamczyk and once again, he went on to have a successful career at the CIS/Usports level, but as a Tight End. These guys both had arms just like those Quarterbacks I first saw in Quebec, but the big difference seemed to be their ability to read defences and make difficult throws. What the coaches were asking these guys in team meetings in Quebec was so complex, but these 18 year-old’s knowledge of football never failed to amaze me. I started to realise that the difference was coaching and the Quarterback’s ability to learn. They also had provincial programs that played in Canada cups and New Brunswick did not back then. We did apparently have a provincial program for a bit in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s but they seem to have only played Nova Scotia from what I have been able to find on the internet.
The only Quarterback that really put NB on the map and made it big was Oromocto’s Jordan Heather. I remember coming home on my reading week and he had a game against a Moncton. I had been hearing how good this kid was so I decided to attend the game. Jordan was a raw talent, but he understood football so well and seemed like he was at a whole other level. And that’s not taking anything away from Hickey or Adamczyk, but this guy was special. Jordan went on to play multiple seasons as a starter at Bishop’s and as a senior, he won the Hec Creighton award as he threw the ball for 3132 passing yards in 8 games. He was averaging 391 passing yards per contest, and this was from a kid that never played for team NB (as there wasn’t one) so he came straight out of NB high school football. I did notice that football teams were throwing the ball a lot more in 2009 and the Quarterbacks seemed to be handing the ball off a lot less.
Then came Football NB’s decision to install a provincial program that would compete in Canada cups and I think that really changed the position for the better. We started seeing Quarterbacks being added to USports rosters and actually playing the position, which was something I was quite happy to see.
Another thing that makes me quite happy now is seeing the Mount Allison football roster with 3 Quarterbacks from NB on it. What was even better was that the top 2 pivots on the depth Chart actually hail from NB. David Patry, who played his high school football at L’Odyssee has recently been named the starter with former Leo Hayes Lions Hunter Sturgeon not far behind. Sturgeon looked good in the games he started this season but with the Mounties currently being winless, I imagine the coaching staff is trying to spark things up by turning to Patry. One thing I do know is that both of these players can play the Quarterback position at the Usports level, and that’s the main thing. We also can’t forget former Tantramar Titans pivot Justin Vogels who is a rookie with the Mounties this season. He was extremely successful in high school and we could see him on the field sooner rather than later.
Another Quarterback that had some success after high school was Daniel Comfort, who headed to the CEGEP level where he played in Rimouski for 2 years. He was the starter his 2nd year, and put up some solid numbers before heading to Mount Allison where he did end up on the dress roster serving as the team’s backup Quarterback. Daniel has brought his talents to the Maritime Football league where he has won 2 championships with the Moncton Mustangs. Daniel is still playing now and is also coaching the Quarterbacks and serving as the offensive coordinator at his Alma matter Mathieu Martin.
I asked Dan if he saw a significant difference in coaching and offensive schemes when he got to Rimouski as well as his time with the Mounties. Here is what he said.
“When I was in High school, we actually did not have a Quarterback coach so I spent most of my time trying to improve my throwing motion and getting better at the things I was already doing. When I arrived in Rimouski, I really improved my throwing motion and knowledge as I had a Quarterback coach that worked with me every practice. When I got to Mount Allison, it took me a long time to be ready as I was still improving technique, and coaches at that level expect the base to be perfected and they really focus on precision and decision making.”
I also had the pleasure of having a chat with Mount Allison starting Quarterback David Patry and I asked him how the coaching he received in New Brunswick has molded him into the Quarterback he is today.
“I will forever appreciate the coaching I received in High School but there are not many Schools that have the luxury of having a coach work with Quarterbacks that possesses the knowledge required to be successful at the University level. When I got to Mount Allison, I really tried to use all the coaching and every rep to my advantage and get better every day. I also use the motivation of knowing that I am a Quarterback from New Brunswick and I am not expected to succeed, that makes me better every single day. I want to be the best I can be on and off the field”
We have seen plenty of very successful football players come out of this province but as I mentioned, it was never Quarterbacks. For someone who loves football as much as I do and was always so proud of having played in this province, it has been pleasure seeing our Quarterbacks start emerging as players that remain at their natural position at the next level. The results at the Canada Cup are getting better and we are even seeing success stories at the professional level. We have yet to see many Quarterbacks play professional football other than Jordan Heather, who took his talents overseas to play in a league in France for a season. One thing I do know is that we are heading in the right direction, and we are seeing that proof on the field.