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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • Update: 9/27/10

    Well, my boy is the starting QB for our 6A 9th grade football team now. He was the backup QB for our first game and at the second half the starting QB got hurt so now the job falls on my boy. He played the second half of his first game at QB last week. Not only is it his first time playing QB but it was the first time in his life he's ever played on offense.
    He did ok, completed a few passes and did his job. Main thing for him was to remember the plays and "not mess up". Last play of the game we were down 9 points and the clock was running down to zero so the coach decided to let my boy air it out. He threw the ball 50 yards down field right into the deep safety's hands. He tells me the receiver ran the wrong rout - thus my boy threw his first interception. Also, it was the last play of the game and when the play was over I saw him laying on the ground and they were looking at him. I can tell you this......I've never been so scared. He said when the safety intercepted the ball that he went after him to tackle him and someone blind-sided him and rung his bell. He's ok but it was scary for me I'll tell you that.

    Personally, I wish he would quit playing football. Our offensive Line is just terrible.....the worst I've ever seen. I just don't want my boy hurt. But he wan'ts to play and he's loving playing QB. I just have to hope for the best I guess. I remember I loved playing football at his age so I don't want to take that away from him.

    Also, he's still going through his baseball training. He's going through a 10 week pitching program.

    So far he's keeping his grades up. I think the discipline of football helps with his mindset. I remember the same thing happened last year. When he started playing football his grades went up. Same thing is happening so far this year. His grades, although not great are higher than he normally has them. He's working harder in his classes and I hope he continues to improve on his grades.

    Till next time,
    Sparks

    Comment


    • Sparks,
      Thanks for the update... I have never been an advocate for football in HS because of the size issue, especially in small towns where they do not have the luxury of numbers.... and size.

      What's most impressive with your continued updates is this thread has lasted more than 4.5 years and those of us who have followed it have had the privileged of watching the two of you grow in athletics. You've done a great job!
      "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
      - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
      Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
        Sparks,
        Thanks for the update... I have never been an advocate for football in HS because of the size issue, especially in small towns where they do not have the luxury of numbers.... and size.

        What's most impressive with your continued updates is this thread has lasted more than 4.5 years and those of us who have followed it have had the privileged of watching the two of you grow in athletics. You've done a great job!
        Gosh Jake, has it been 4 years? Seems like yesterday when I found this site and I just wanted to know a few things. I think when my father died it hit me pretty hard, he loved baseball so much. I found myself not having him to turn to and talk baseball.....I think I miss that more than anything. Anyway, one thing led to another and I found myself putting my thoughts on this website. I think in a way I come over here and tell what is going on in his life....well, it's kinda like I'm telling my dad I guess.

        My boy has grown a little now....he's a good 5'6" (still a little short at 14 about to turn 15) but he does weigh 147 pounds now and there isn't an ounce of fat on him.

        In our area our 9th grade FB only plays against other 9th grade teams. But I tell you, we are a 6A school and some of these kids look like they could play college. Seeing my boy out on the field hitting or getting hit by these boys just scares the crazy out of me. I mean to be totally honest, he will never go anywhere in FB. He's a good player in FB for his team but I would say he's average at best. He is small with about average to maybe above average speed. He does have a very good arm but playing QB is more than having a good arm. He's never played it before so he has no clue what's he's doing. Right now he's just learning the plays and doing what the coaches tell him.

        Baseball, at least I think, he is pretty special in. It's by far his best game. I must admit I love baseball far better anyway and I think he does too.

        I just hope his Football coach helps take care of him while he's playing QB. With their line there is no need in him standing back there trying to throw the ball (he'll get killed). It will be just fine with me if he just hands the ball off three times and punts.

        BTW: Our starting QB suffered what they call a "grade 3 concussion". In our first game he was carted off the field in a stretcher. I can't imagine his parents. If that happens to my boy.....I just can't stand the thought of it. My goal while he plays FB is just play safe.....that's all I care about.

        Comment


        • Sparks,

          I hear you there. My son's in 8th grade and there's a kid who's 308 pounds and another at 292 pounds on his team, both are not tubs of lard either - facial hair, muscles and can play. My son does a lot of drills with them. He's not the 3rd biggest player on the team and gives up 100 lbs. + to them, but he holds his own and doesn't fear them like everyone else. Evidentally a lot of parents have shown concern about the size of these boys. The bigger of the two behemoths took out the other boy in practice and his mother is complaining because she says the boy is crazy. So, now all the one on one tackling drills, stuff like that, my son's going up against a kid that is almost a foot taller and 125 lbs heavier and BA.

          This kid has done a lot to make my son a better player though. They played on the same youth team until the other kid exceeded the league's weight limit. There was another kid who also exceeded the league's weight limit and is now a RB in HS. Plays varsity as a freshman, 6A school - beast. Kid has probably had D-1 written all over him since birth. Anyway going up against these kids in practice toughened him right up. Not quite as freakish as those boys in size yet, but plays like a p!ssed off Doberman.
          There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

          Comment


          • Shake,

            Wow, I don't think we have any that big on our team.....we had one boy that was probably that big but they moved him up to Varsity and he is a starter....nice kid too and a brain at that.....he'll go a long way.

            Our school has a very good baseball program and our Varsity FB program is good also. Even our 7th and 8th grade football teams are very good and I think undefeated. My boy plays on the 9th grade team and to be blunt....well, they are pretty bad. This is odd to because most of these same kids are the kids that are on the baseball team and our 9th grade baseball team may be one of the best in our state.

            It pretty much all boils down to this.....we have the worst offensive line you can imagine. I can't tell you how many times the QB is in the shotgun formation and when the center hikes the ball three or four defensive players could almost catch the ball before it gets to the QB. It's that bad and even worse. The coaches are trying everything to get these kids to block but they just can't grasp it or something.

            Shoot, if we had a good O. Line I would be tickled that my boy is playing QB and would love to see what he could do. As it stands now I just want him to survive.

            Comment


            • Tonight is the big night....my boy will be starting his first game at QB.
              To say I'm nervous is an understatement..... I just hope he doesn't make too many mistakes and most of all I hope he doesn't get hurt.

              Also, he will be turning 15 in a couple of days....man oh man oh man.....how fast they grow!

              Down through the years, as I've posted my thoughts on this thread, regarding my boys sports (mostly baseball). I realize there have been many ups and downs. As I look back I realize I'm a very lucky person, very lucky indeed.
              I've been lucky enough to see my boy hit a homerun in the state playoffs. I've been lucky enough to see him be the ace pitcher on the best middle school team our school has ever had.
              I've also been lucky enough to see him fail and to see him grow.
              I've seen him lose to our cross town rivals but I also reminded him that day that he should feel honored that his coach had enough faith in him to give him the ball on the teams biggest game.

              Yes there have been many many ups and downs but I wouldn't trade either for anything. Baseball is more than just a game.....it's more of a chance of sharing with your kids. I think baseball helps kids grow and to learn about life. I don't think my boy would be the boy he is today if he hadn't played baseball. It's not only influenced his life but the lives of our entire family. In short it has been a joy. AS he moves on to Jr. high and then high school I will always remember the days when I watched him grow. It has been a joy and I'm the most blessed person alive.

              Sparks

              Sparks

              Comment


              • Hi Sparks,
                Good post... I hope the next 15 are as gratifying.
                Jake
                "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                Comment


                • Well, it's the morning after his first game as starting QB.

                  First, and most important I'm glad to report that my boy didn't get hurt. His ribs are a little sore but other than that he is just fine. Man that is really the most important thing.

                  We lost 22 to 0. Our boys played hard but we just have too many holes in our team.

                  As far as how my boy did....I'll put it this way......I thought he did about 10 times better than I hoped he would have done. He ran the offense and made very few if any mistakes. He didn't "panic" while playing QB and the game didn't appear to be too fast for him. He completed a few passes, had a few passes dropped that should have been caught and of course made a couple throws that were off the mark. He did throw to interceptions but considering when and how they were thrown I don't think it was a bad thing. The first interception was thrown when the clock ran out at halftime and they were just doing a "hale Mary" pass.
                  The second IT was on 3rd and 19 when I thought the coach made a bad call to throw the ball.

                  He was of course upset after the game. He is a baseball player at heart and I don't think he understands how football works. He thinks his coach is mad at him because he wouldn't talk to him during the game. I tried to tell him that the coach doesn't have time to be buddy buddy during the game because he's running the team. My boy said, "well, the only time he would talk to me was when he called the plays". I said "well duh....that's what the coach does". Also, his football coach is a "YELLER". I other words he's always yelling at the kids. That's fine of course but my boy isn't used to it and I think he confuses a coach yelling with a coach that is mad at him. He'll learn.

                  Also, my boy said he is having trouble seeing over the line when he throws the ball. He's still only 5'6" so he's a little short. I don't know what to tell him. I tell him to just step into a lane and throw the ball but he is so confused. His coach tells him to do a 3 step drop or a 5 step drop and my boy doesn't have the confidence yet to "vary" the play. He will not step back any further or step to the side because the coach didn't call that.

                  Anyway, it was a fun night but it would be nice if they had played better. Most of all he didn't get hurt and for that I am happy.

                  Sparks

                  Comment


                  • Video,

                    I've never done this before so I hope it works....I've put a couple of video's on Youtube.
                    The first one is of my boy completing his first pass as a starting QB (he's number 14)
                    It's not a great clip as you can see I got a little excited and the camera moved....lol
                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_-1U9fHGb8


                    This next one is another pass
                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_-1U9fHGb8

                    Comment


                    • Very cool!

                      I found during basketball games - or football - mount the camera on a tripod. You'll get better film.
                      "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                      - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                      Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                      Comment


                      • Sparks, thanks for the updates. Glad to see that he's hangin' in their in his 'new' sport. By the way, you repeated the same YouTube link for both passes. The second link should be this: http://www.youtube.com/user/Sparksda.../1/1T_LUbmglAE

                        I can see it being a bit of a shock to a kid who's spent most of his athletic career in baseball now confronting a football coach. They get to be much more aggressive and less supportive than baseball coaches. And what's with not letting a 5'6" QB with great athleticism roll out once in awhile. Maybe they'll build that into the system for him later, but .... geee ... can you imagine Doug Flutie being a pocket QB? I don't think so.

                        Best of luck to him, and keep us posted.

                        Ursa
                        sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

                        Comment


                        • Well, it happened....

                          We played a game against one of the 6A powerhouses in our area. My boy was starting QB. It was awful, just awful. The defense was literally and I mean literally standing next to my boy on every play when he had the ball snapped to him....keep in mind that our offense always goes in the shotgun. You cannot imagine how bad our offensive line is.....I couldn't even make this stuff up they are that bad. I mean these 9th graders cant' even slow a defensive player down for 1 single second.
                          Our snapper is scared of getting hit (all the offensive line is) and he continually has bad snaps. When my boy hands the ball off to the tailback he literally has to decide if he wants to hand it to his tailback or to the 3 other defenders standing there waiting on the ball.

                          Anyway, it happened. Once again on the last play of the game my boy gets the crazy knocked out of him. One of the hardest hits I've ever seen. The coaches just want the kids to score to have a little confidence I guess. We are on about the 15 yard-line my boy takes the snap and sets to throw. In this formation the tailback is supposed to stay back and protect the QB to give him at least a little time. For what ever reason, and I'll never know why, when the ball is snapped the tailback moves to the right and lets the tight-end and fullback go untouched, at a full run straight into my boy as he starts to throw. The kids just absolutely creamed him. The clock runs out and my boy is laying on the field.

                          He was pretty shaken up so we took him to the ER. They said he didn't have a concussion and according to the doctor just got his bell rung.

                          I"m pretty mad to be honest. I have the most respect for these coaches but they clearly have an offensive line (and tailbacks) who are scared of getting hit. We are losing as it is yet the coaches never make any changes. I think the biggest mistake coaches make is if they see a boy that is big then they put them on the line. Freaking nuts if you ask me. I would rather have a kid half the size that can at least have a little heart and slow a defender down for a couple of seconds than some bigger boy who is scared of getting hit.

                          Anyway, we have two games left and our next game is Monday. My boy was cleared to practice and play by the doctor but I'm not sure if the coaches will let him play. They know the hit he took and I think they are going to give him this next game off.

                          I'll be glad when baseball gets here......geeeeeezzzz this football is killing me.

                          Sparks

                          Comment


                          • Hope your youngster is okay. From the past clips, it looks like the coaches know how to call screen passes. Maybe those and a few draws and roll-outs might slow down the pass rush. Best of luck to you both over the final two games.
                            sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

                            Comment


                            • Update:
                              Not a lot to post about but had this thread on my mind and thought I'd put down a few thoughts.

                              Football ended a few weeks ago and it didn't end fast enough for me. The last two games our starting QB came back from injury so my boy got limited playing time. His only position was backup QB and the limited playing time was just fine by me. He did ok as QB this year but he has so much to learn that the position was a little over his head. About the only good thing he had was a good arm but the offensive line was so bad that he never had anytime at all to throw. But he ended the season without injury so that was great.

                              He is once again going through an intense pitching program which is headed by one of the best division 11 college coaches around. He is retired now but runs a baseball facility in our area. He is a wonderful coach and has coached several major league players.
                              It's an arm strengthening program geared to building speed, velocity and most of all endurance for the arm. 12 weeks ago they clocked my boy at 78mph. We haven't clocked him since but I think he is easily throwing 78+ and probably touches the low 80's from time to time. Most of all this program develops mechanics to help improve strikes and of course proper mechanics help reduce injury.

                              Also, big news.... last quarter my boy got his best report card ever! Still not all A's and B's but he only missed the honor roll by 5 points (a huge huge huge deal for my boy)!!!

                              Last but not least our the high school was allowed to have 5 practices for the fall. We just finished We played 3 inter-squad games with players from the 9th - 12th grade. It was the first time my boy had played against older players. Some of the best players are on the basketball team and they weren't allowed to participate but still my boy got a taste of Varsity. I was surprised at the pitching..... Maybe one of the varsity boys touched 80 but I doubt it.... even still most of them threw in the mid 70's with good location.
                              My boy went 3 for 6 batting in the three games and pitched one inning.

                              Now everything is over.... no baseball no football and my boy doesn't play basketball so we have little to do..... lol. Not sure I like that......

                              Sparks

                              Comment


                              • Update:
                                Well here it is, 2011 and baseball season has started here where we live. Yes it starts in January and our first game is in February. My boy is a freshman this year so I figure the talent level has gone up that he will be playing against.
                                As a 9th grader he's still a little small but not too small.....at 5' 7" he's probably about two inches smaller than the other kids on our team.
                                During the off season we enrolled him in two pitching clinics that were 2 days a week for about 14 weeks or so.....give or take for holiday's and such. The clinics stressed mechanics and used weighted balls to increase velocity. The program was run by one of the most respected AA college coaches in the country who is now retired. I think he won a couple of national championships as a coach and has coached a few players who have made it to the major leagues.

                                The program was fine for pitching instruction but it didn't seem to help with my boy's velocity. When it started they gunned him at 78mph and last time I gunned him he was around 76 to 77mph. Of course on any given day he can be off by a couple of miles an hour but it's clear he didn't gain any speed. Still, he hasn't grown much either and that may have something do to with it.

                                The school has been throwing for about 10 days.... just soft toss and long toss to get the boys in shape. Real practice starts next week. It will be exciting to see my boy play with the freshmen class. I have a feeling they are going to move him to Second base when he's not pitching. He want's to catch and play SS but he seems to be ok with Second base. He told me as long as they don't put him in the OF he's fine.

                                Anyway, this freshman class is the same group of boys that he played with last year and they were one of the better 8th grade teams in our state. But we have a few problems this year.....our starting catcher (who was also one of our top pitchers) hurt his arm last year and still hasn't recovered. It must have been more serious than we were led to believe. I hope he will be ok because our team needs him. Our other top pitcher broke his toe and had to have surgery.....at best he's going to be a little show at getting ready for the season.

                                Also, our Varsity team is going to be very bad. Everyone knows this and our coach has said as much. We have a new coach this year (we all love him he was my boy's 7th and 8th grade coach and he's been promoted to Varsity coach). Anyway, the varsity team only has 3 seniors on it.....I'm not sure why but it seems our old coach was a bit lazy and let the baseball program suffer. We are a football country after all and baseball is just an afterthought to many who live around here. But or current baseball coach is 100% baseball and he wants to build our 6A program back up to be one of the better teams in the state. He told us at the boosters meeting that the senior class is going to suffer but he knows the kids he has coming up and fully expects us to contend for the state in a couple of years.

                                The reason I say all this is it wouldn't surprise me if they moved my boy to Varsity. As much as I've always hoped he would make Varsity early I've changed my mind on it now. I would rather he stay and play with the Freshman class. He's not ready for Varsity and if they put him up there pithing, the other 6A schools will eat him and his 78mph fastball up. On the other hand I think he has a good chance at being a very good Freshman pitcher and a good or above average hitter. It will help his confidence and allow him time to grow.

                                Anyway, no one has told him he's going to Varsity so I may just be talking out my head. But we are excited about baseball again and I'm so very happy that after all these years he still loves the greatest game in the world.

                                Sparks

                                Comment

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