Change At Quarterback Paying Big Dividends For Hooks, Winners of Seven Straight
Hooks is two games away from winning a district title. The Hornets dropped their first game of the season to Harmony before rattling off seven-straight wins, including three in district play.
The keys, according to head coach Chris Birdwell, were improving on both lines of scrimmage and getting the new quarterback comfortable.
“Our offensive line and defensive line really stepped up after that first game. Our worry going into the season was up front on both sides of the ball, so we need to fix a few things and move guys around to help us get better after the first game. We also had a senior return who was thinking about giving up football. He was a two-year starter entering the season and he’s starting both ways for us right now. Getting all that fixed was huge for us,” Birdwell said. “Also, our quarterback is taking a lot of pressure off of us. Guys can’t focus on our running back all the time in the running game because our quarterback is starting to figure it out.”
That quarterback is Jordan Johnson. Last year, Johnson registered 115 tackles as a linebacker for Hooks. He was moved to quarterback in the offseason and is starting to find a groove. He’s a dual-threat quarterback who has racked up over 100 yards rushing in all three district games.
“He makes it a lot easier on our offensive line because he can create plays that aren’t there and keep a defense off-balance in its reads because you can’t chase the running back or quarterback in our offense. We want those guys to threaten a defense so that it opens it up for everyone else,” Birdwell said. “His adjustment to playing the position has made everything we do on offense easier.”
One thing Hooks does very well is get the ball to wide receiver Montrell Estell, who already holds offers from "Power Five" programs, Texas Tech and Kansas. Estell already has 11 touchdowns this season and returned an interception for a touchdown. It was wet on Friday, so the coaching staff knew the passing game would be limited. Estell still figured out how to make plays thanks to the coaching staff.
“We lined him up in the Wildcat formation to get him the ball in a bad-weather game and he finished with eight carries for over 120 yards. That doesn’t even count the 50-yard touchdown run he had called back for a penalty,” Birdwell said. “His athleticism is unbelievable. Estell can score from anywhere on the field. He’s a truly dynamic player. I’ve coached at places like Texas High and he’s the best athlete I’ve ever coached. I’ve been around some wide receivers who are more polished and better at the technical aspects of route-running, but no one I’ve been around is on his level when it comes to being a pure athlete.”
To get to the season finale, which will essentially be a district championship game against Paul Pewitt, Hooks must first knock off Queen City.
“They have a lot of talent and a guy on offense that can make big plays. Defensively, we’ll need to limit those big plays and make them beat us with the pass. I think their quarterback is hurt, so we’ll need to score some points early and make them play from behind,” Birdwell said. “They want to play smash-mouth, ball-control offense, so if we can build a lead early that will take them out of their comfort zone.”