All-star coach Barry Harley dealt himself a strong hand when choosing quarterbacks for his team in the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl North vs. South All-star game.
Harley, the coach at Gilbert, has his Indians’ team leader Mitch Spires and Lexington’s Will Hunter at his disposal on the South team.
“We looked at a lot of guys, and we talked about a lot of different things, but these guys were head-and-shoulders above. They just did a tremendous job through the season.” Harley said. “When we sat down and evaluated at the quarterback position, both of these guys did what we wanted.”
Both were familiar with the system Harley was setting up, and no two quarterbacks could work better together.
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“If you put Will and Mitch side-by-side and you walk behind both of them, it’s really hard to tell them apart. They have similar body type, similar mechanics, similar delivery,” Harley said.
“They complement each other,” said Lexington coach Josh Stepp, who is close with Spires’ family.
The Lexington County pair are prolific passers.
Spires was 149-of-270 this season for 2,055 yards and 13 touchdowns, adding 648 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing.
“Mitch is expanding his game,” Harley said. “Coming into the year, I hadn’t realized that he was going to have the kind of year that he’s had.”
Neither did Spires.
“Last year I didn’t have a great year, so I thought this year would just be my last year,” he said. “Halfway through the year, it kind of hit me that I might be able to play one last game, and coach Harley mentioned that they were considering me.”
It was a bit different for Hunter.
“Going into the year, I thought Will was easily in the top three or four quarterbacks in the state,” Stepp said. “I knew Will had a chance to be special. He was able to stay healthy and put up some great numbers, with the help of his teammates, and he was fortunate to make a game.”
In his final high school playoff games, Hunter hit career milestones. He crossed the 10,000-yard mark in leading the Wildcats past Dorman in the first round, and the 100-touchdown mark in their final game at Byrnes.
Hunter finished his high school career with 10,322 yards and 101 touchdowns passing.
“I feel like I had a pretty good season and finished off my career pretty well,” Hunter said.
Working with Spires, Hunter said, has added to the fun of the all-star experience.
“He’s really the only guy I kind of knew coming down here, and I’ve spent more time with him than anyone else here,” he said. “It’s been fun being here with him.”
“We’re a lot alike,” Spires said. “There are a lot of similarities, we like a lot of the same things and we’ve become pretty good friends over the past couple of days.”
Although they both had developed strong chemistry with their high school team’s receivers, Spires and Hunter are excited about the group of receivers they are working with this week. The corps includes Goose Creek’s Jordan Barnes, Conway’s Ikeem Coles, Trevor Pederson of Wando and Oceanez Fluitt from C.E. Murray.
“It hasn’t been hard at all,” Spires said. “It’s just fun times, putting the ball up there and letting them make plays.”
Hunter said, “I could not have done it without my teammates at home in Lexington, but I am enjoying being able to be down here playing with these guys.”
At Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Saturday’s All-star game, Harley plans to use his duo equally.
“We’re going to play them both. One may have a hotter hand in the game, but they’re both going to be out there,” Harley said. “Both of them have earned the right to be here. They’re all-stars.”