Prior to the 2017 season, we provided an outlook of the crop of quarterbacks in this corner of Georgia, and they were nothing short of “WOW”! We called this the “Year of the QB.”
So the season came, and it went, and now we have had the chance to truly let the greatness resonate with us a bit. So we take a look back at the QBs we highlighted: Bailey Fisher, Coey Watson, Cole Wright, Jackson Bell and AJ Curry. It begs the question — just how good were the guys and what will we be missing next year without them under the bright Friday night lights?
BAILEY FISHER – The Best There Ever Was
Fisher is the 3-time BLITZ Player of the Year and a 9-time Player of the Week. His numbers don’t lie. 9,383 passing yards (6th all-time in state history), 113 TD (4th all-time) and 3,075 rushing yards and 57 TD. That’s 170 total TDs and well over 12,000 yards of offense.
He’s one of the best to EVER play in Georgia. Period! Perhaps best of all, he was 36-4 as a starter, with two losses in the quarterfinals and one in the state title game. He led the Wildcats at Rabun to a 14-1 2017 season, which included a fourth straight region title to boot.
Here’s the crazy thing — he rarely in his junior and season season played a full game (in the regular season). He played about 4 or 5 full regular season games from 2016-17, as Rabun was so dominant (6th best offense in state history in 2017), he’d be done by the middle of the third quarter or beginning of the fourth at the latest. Imagine if Fisher played every game start to finish and got more playing time as a freshman (played sparingly in 2014)!! His numbers would likely top the state on the all-time records list, or at worst be top-3 in each category.
We’ll be missing this guy tremendously, and not just for his on-the-field accomplishments and prowess…but his attitude, heart and dedication to his teammates and coaches, as well as Wildcat Nation. This is truly a generational talent for Rabun County and Northeast Georgia.
COEY WATSON – The Guts, Passion & Heart
Watson is an amazing individual — and a gifted quarterback. What we said about Fisher, a lot of that applies to Watson as well. He too has some numbers in the state record books, including passing yards (6,928 ranks 29th all-time) and passing touchdowns (65 ranks 28th all-time).
He is also a dual-threat, adding 2,002 rushing yards and 41 more scores…for a grand total of 8,930 yards of offense and 106 TDs. Watson is the heart and soul of what Dawson County has done over the past three-plus years. His freshman year saw him emerge as a starter the Tigers could rely on.
What happened in his 2015 sophomore season was unforeseeable. With the coming of coach Sid Maxwell, Watson led the Tigers to a region championship and a state quarterfinals run, giving Dawson the best season in school history. He followed that up with two more state tournament runs, including a Sweet 16 run in 2017.
We’ll be missing Watson’s heart…he played through SO much the past three years, including elbow and knee injuries that would easily sideline most players. He’d have to lean on his passing game when the knee was hurt, or his running game when his elbow was hurt. His teammates loved Watson, as his leadership was on display within the lines and outside them, both in example and vocally.
COLE WRIGHT – The Heir Who Filled Big Shoes
NOBODY wants to be the guy that takes over from a legendary quarterback. That’s a TON of pressure, especially when that guy was one of the state’s all-time best as a dual threat (Joseph Mancuso). Wright patiently waited, backing up Mancuso for two years before getting his shot.
The numbers he put up in two seasons are mind-boggling: 3,951 passing yards and 34 TD, and 2,676 rushing yards with 35 TD. Wright is unique from Fisher and Watson in that he ran quite a bit more frequently than he passed. That’s what made him dangerous. What could he have done with two more seasons? We’ll never know!
Over 6,000 yards of offense and 69 total TDs from 2016-17 was the total for Wright, who is an Army-West Point commit. We’ll miss one of the most electric quarterbacks outside the pocket, and watching defenses try their best to figure out how to stop him.
JACKSON BELL – The Constant
Jackson Bell wasn’t flashy — but he did what he had to in order to get put a “W” up for Stephens County. He was consistent, and could burn any team on the run or the pass. He started his career as a wide receiver before taking over under center.
Bell finished with 3,098 passing yards and 27 TDs, while adding 1,323 rushing yards and another 14 scores. He also tallied 82 receiving yards.
We’ll miss Bell’s solid play for the Indians, and his consistency. While we can’t know for sure, it always appeared that Bell never gets rattled despite the situation. He was a great leader for the Indians!
AJ CURRY – The Late Bloomer
If only we had more time to see Curry. The former Stephens County stud athlete moved from receiver to quarterback while going from the Indians to rival Habersham Central.
Curry was sensational in just one year. The tallest build among these great quarterbacks, he was intimidating just watching him warm up. Pure athleticism! He had to learn quickly, not just a new offense, but how to be a QB. He did very well. Just think of if he had at least another year in the system where his numbers would be.
2,495 passing yards and 18 TDs in just one season, and he finished his career with a total of 676 rushing yards and 13 TDs, as well as 285 receiving yards and 2 more scores!
We will miss the athleticism that Curry possesses. He is truly a gifted athlete, and has the right body build that had Auburn recruiting him and Western Carolina getting him to commit.
Next Man Up! Who will it be? Already we know White County freshman JBen Haynes is one to leave a legacy — and he got a rare start as a freshman to begin writing his book.
Rabun, Dawson, Union, Stephens and Habersham will have to find who that next quarterback will be. Teams like Lumpkin (92 pass attempts), Commerce (90 attempts) and Towns (80 pass attempts) don’t rely as heavily on an individual to run the plays, so they’ll also be looking to plug someone as the top signal-caller. Banks County too – with a new coach, will they throw the ball more than the 100 or so times they did this season with four different guys?