A heated three-way starting quarterback battle went to the wall for Slippery Rock football this season, only being decided days before their first game at Kentucky State on Saturday, September 2nd.
Redshirt senior Tanner Garry won the battle over a pair of sophomores: Augustus Necastro and St. Francis (Pa.) transfer Andrew Koester.
“We had three capable quarterbacks,” head football coach Shawn Lutz said. “Augustus should’ve won us the Edinboro game and Andrew Koester is really good, he almost won the job,” Lutz said, who wasn’t shy about how close all three players were to winning the job. “It really was that close, we feel pretty good putting any of those guys out there.”
Even though Lutz had positive things to say about all three quarterbacks, Lutz was most excited to talk about his new starting Quarterback. “Garry is a great leader who can throw the football, he’s been a lot of different places so we are excited about him.”
Garry himself had high praise for the competitiveness of his teammates, stating that the competition “definitely helped me out, coach Roper (Offensive coordinator) said that from the beginning that you want to be pushed through the battle; you don’t want it to just be handled in the beginning and nothing else from there on. It was all competition, and it was all pushing each other. Everybody was really trying to stay up and not get mad when someone else made a good play. Our thought process was that whoever wins the job is going to help the team, and we’re going to be happy with it.”
Garry may now be the starting quarterback, but he had to pay his dues the previous year, which Lutz delved into the details about. “You have to give him a lot of credit, he was a 23 year old running our scout team last year; he was getting ready to graduate. We asked him to do something that most people don’t want to do, and he did it.”
Lutz said that Garry’s other strength is an intangible one. “He wears his emotions on his sleeve. Sometimes that can get you in trouble, but its better than the opposite where you don’t say nothing. It’s more of a positive than a negative.”
Garry was also quick to talk about how the intangibles play a large part for his team. “One thing I always try to do is try to develop relationships with people. I was close with the receivers and running backs because that translates to the field. Once I develop those relationships, football aspects start to hold. Now that I’m here and comfortable, I feel great and I know what we’re trying to do on offense, and have a great group of guys to do it. “
Slippery Rock tends to go with a quarterback that is fleet of foot and can run the ball, but Lutz expanded on how Garry’s role under center will be different than past quarterbacks.
“He doesn’t have to win games for us, he’s just gotta manage the game and not make a lot of mistakes,” Lutz said. “We just have to make sure that he knows he doesn’t have to do too much. Manage the game, make plays when needed. You need to throw the ball out of bounds? Throw the ball out of bounds. He can make all the throws in our system. He can really throw the ball, hopefully it’s going in to the right guy’s hands. “
Garry has not started a football game since 2011, for Fort Cherry High School as an 18 year old. Now a veteran of 24, Both Garry and Lutz we’re excited for him to take on this challenge.
“I’m very excited, it’s a feeling I’m getting used to again. It’s been six years. I’ve had my times in games but I’ve never been the guy going into a game. It’s about controlling my emotions and make sure that I’m prepared.” Garry said, with Lutz resonating his statements.
“He is so excited and so ready to play. After six years of never playing a full game, he gets this opportunity.”
Garry and the entire Rock football team will begin play on Saturday, September 2nd when they travel to Frankfurt, Kentucky to take on the Kentucky State Thorobreds.