There’s an adage that says if your team is playing two quarterbacks alternately, then you don’t any quarterback.
But Brentwood High is totally blowing that theory out of the football waters.
The Bruins have stormed to an 8-0 record with one of the finest teams in school history. In senior Austin Winfree and junior Aaron Maher, they have two excellent signal-callers. The duo has directed an offense that has scored 339 points (42.4 per game), has surpassed 50 three times and has tallied less than 30 only once — a 28-0 opening win over Cookeville.
Good friends, Winfree, who is right-handed, and Maher, who is a lefty, each have their strengths, which they showed collectively in a 36-7 romp at Hillsboro on Friday. The win clinched the top seed in District 11-AAA as well as a Class 6A berth in the upcoming playoffs, opening Nov. 2.
“It’s worked out well,” Maher, who also plays strong safety, said. “We started out alternating each series at first, but recently, it’s been every play.
“We’re good friends, we help each other out in practice, and both of us are doing the best we can to help us win”
Winfree rushed for two touchdowns (two and one-yard smashes) and passed for two more (to Ben Green and to Jack Maher). Aaron Maher set up his one-yard touchdown when he ran the ball down to the 1. Winfree came in and barreled in the next play.
Neither passes much. They don’t have to. They were a combined 4-for-12 for 49 yards Friday. Winfree hit two of seven attempts with the two touchdowns and one interception. Maher connected on two of-five throws.
Senior Isaac Martinez added to the passing stats when the halfback threw to Jalen Marsalis for 25 yards. That set up Winfree’s 10-yard TD pass to Green for a 23-0 halftime lead.
In all, BHS had 511 yards total offense.
“It was kind of new concept for us [to alternate quarterbacks each play] at first, but we’ve both gotten used to it,” said Winfree, the son of long-time coach Dan Winfree. “We’ve both adapted to it, and we’re winning which is the main thing.
“It was a great night for us, going 8-0 and clinching the district championship.”
• GOING GREEN: Operating behind a huge and agile offensive line, the two quarterbacks can count on a knockout running game, led by rugged bowling ball style runner Ben Green.
Amazingly, the 11 different backs (including the two quarterbacks) carried the ball against Hillsboro. All told, they rolled up 420 rushing yards despite the Burros routinely loading the box.
Green, a senior, again was the leader with 145 yards in just 12 carries. That put him on the doorstep of 1,000 yards and kept him among the area leaders with 990 yards on 96 carries (10.3 per rush).
“It’s great for me when I can run behind big 6-5 linemen, and the defense can’t even see me until I get past the line,” the hard-running 5-foot-8, 160-pound Green said. “I’ve been playing since seventh grade, and this is really a special team, as good as any I’ve ever played on.”
The Bruins racked up 28 first downs, 17 before halftime. Their defense didn’t allow the Burros a first down until they picked up two in the final seven seconds of the half.
“This is the best Brentwood team I’ve ever seen,” Hillsboro coach Craig Clayton, who coached against the Bruins annually for seven years when he head coach at Franklin, said. “They have a strong offensive line, two quarterbacks who both very good and an excellent defense.”
• THE MAN IN CHARGE: Brentwood already had a very good program under coach Ron Crawford before Mark Pemberton arrived there last spring. But Pemberton has helped raise the program’s standard of excellence to new levels.
Arguably, it is the best team in school history.
The only other time Brentwood won its first eight games in the school’s 30-year history came in 1998. That year the Bruins won their first 12, got the state quarterfinals and Bill Whittemore was named Mr. Football.
“We have 36 seniors, and that leadership goes a long way toward how successful your team is,” Pemberton said. “I knew back in April during spring practice right after I got here that we had some really good players, and that we had a chance to be successful.”
Pemberton knows a little bit about success. He guided Knoxville Catholic to a state championship in 2008.
Regarding the quarterback rotation, he said: “Both have shown they have the capabilities to lead. I have the utmost confidence to put either of them in, regardless of whether the game is on the line or any situation. Both Aaron and Austin have been outstanding.”
Next up: A trip to powerful Blackman, a team that knocked off Riverdale 20-16 last Friday and may be the Bruins’ toughest foe yet.
“I have seen them on film, and they are very athletic, they have an outstanding team,” Pemberton said.
The Bruins clinched their 16th straight playoff berth and they will try to win a state title for the first time since 2002. They reached the 6A quarterfinals in 2004, 2005 and 2008 and two years ago, they got to the semis.
They figure 10 years is a long enough wait.
• Senior back Phillip Booker almost single-handedly rallied Nashville Christian School to a 33-24 district win over White-House Heritage. He scored four touchdowns, including the clincher on an 86-yard fourth-quarter dash, which rallied the Eagles (6-2) from a 17-7 deficit. He finished with 232 yards rushing, giving him 1,056 yards and 18 touchdowns for the season.
• Overton will host the Region 6-AAA volleyball tournament Tuesday afternoon after the Bobcats captured the District 12-AAA title last Thursday. Overton will meet Brentwood High and McGavock will take on District 11-AAA champ and two-time state champ Ravenwood. The finals follow.
Hume-Fogg upset top seed and host Christ Presbyterian Academy in four tough games in the finals of the District 10-A/AA tournament last week. It forces CPA into a tough Region 5-AA semifinal Tuesday with Goodpasture (38-3), with that loser out.