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Football: Acalanes quarterback a quick study at the varsity level

LAFAYETTE — Acalanes hasn’t missed a beat with athletic junior Brady Huchingson at quarterback this year. The dual-threat has passed for 1,418 yards and 16 touchdowns over the Dons’ first six games.

He’s a smooth operator in the pocket in his varsity football debut season.

After last year’s standout quarterback Nick Kresnak, a University of Washington baseball commit, opted not to return for his senior season, the Dons turned to Huchingson. He’s proved to be a quick study, having completed 62.3 percent of his passes this season while mastering the position. Mike O’Donnell, a senior linebacker, is the backup quarterback.


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“He’s playing really well,” Acalanes coach Floyd Burnsed said of Huchingson. “He played JV last year and was gonna be our backup this year, but when circumstances had it, he’s been thrown into the starting slot, so he ended up doing a really nice job. I think we have two pretty good quarterbacks.”

The Dons (5-1, 0-0) are heading into Friday’s showdown at No. 12 ranked Las Lomas (6-0, 1-0) in the Diablo Athletic League-Foothill Division with a league-high 281 points, but this opponent figures to be extra tough. The Knights are protecting an unbeaten record on homecoming week. Acalanes will likely need its best effort to earn the upset.

“I think we’re starting to kick it into gear and really work,” Huchingson said in anticipation of league play. “We’ve got a lot more film on them than we have on other teams.”

The season has unfolded beautifully for Huchingson and the Dons.

In Week 2, Huchingson, who is 6-foot-0 and 160 pounds, delivered on a big stage — famed Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. In a 44-14 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral, he passed for 266 yards and three touchdowns and busted off a 40-yard run. The Dons broke open a close game with 34 points in the second half.

Huchingson says it took a little time to feel comfortable as a varsity quarterback. Coaches told him to “try not to do too much,” he said, “and stay calm in the pocket and move around without just running and kind of always keep my eyes in the right spots.”

“I think it just took one or two games to kind of get up to the speed,” said Huchingson, who batted .306 last spring on the varsity baseball team that won the league title with a 12-0 record. “It was just a little different than JV (football) was last year, but once I kind of figured it out it got a lot easier.”

In its lone defeat, Acalanes dropped a playoff-style 28-20 heartbreaker to host Vintage-Napa on Sept. 7, when Huchingson passed for 246 yards and a touchdown. He also passed for 325 yards against Berkeley, 172 against El Cerrito and 276 against Oakland. So, the young QB can hit the target.

“We knew he was going to be a very good quarterback,” Burnsed said. “It was just a matter of how quick he caught on to the next level of football and how quick we could work some technique and fundamentals with him. As a JV player, he was doing it a lot on ability. Now, he has to do more technique-wise and going to more read-progressions and stuff, so it was just a matter how quick he learns stuff and he’s caught on pretty quick.”

Factor in a solid group overall on offense and defense, and Burnsed has every reason to be confident heading into league play.

“I think we’ve been playing pretty well on both sides of the ball. Our defense has been consistent all year, with a lot of guys back from the previous year so it’s an experienced defense that we have,” Burnsed said. “Our kids are playing well. They’re smart, they’re disciplined, they take care of their assignments.”

Huchingson is aware that the team has improved senior leadership over last season when the Dons finished 4-6 overall and 2-3 in league.

“I think it’s great this year,” Huchingson says of the senior leadership. “From what I’ve heard it’s a lot better than it was last year. I think a lot more seniors want to do well than we (had) last year and care a lot more and they’re pushing everyone.”

 


Source: East Bay Football: Acalanes quarterback a quick study at the varsity level

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