Watch: Gilbert High School football preview
Gilbert coach Chad Leaphart is big fan of repetition.
At practice on Monday, Leaphart made sure his offense ran each play at least twice. The third-year coach did this for a couple of reasons. He wanted to make sure his squad was sharp heading into this weekend’s Lexington Sportsarama and next week’s season opener.
Leaphart also wanted to make sure his two quarterbacks — Josh Strickland and Jy Tolen — each got reps running the play. For the past two years, the two signal-callers have split reps at practice and during the game.
That will continue this season.
“It’s been something new to me. For years, I didn’t have a single QB on the team. Last couple years, we had two bona fide quarterbacks,” Leaphart said. “They understand the system we’ve got, and we kind of split everything. We run every play twice, and if we run a play four times, everyone will get to run it twice. They both play in 7-on-7 and both play in games Friday nights. It is what we do and they are used to.”
While a two-quarterback system might not work everywhere, it has at Gilbert. The Indians are coming off a school-record 12-win season, and both quarterbacks have embraced it and are good friends.
Last season, Strickland would play two series while Tolen came in every third series. Leaphart said a similar plan is in place this season and there is no plan to move one to a different position.
Strickland, who is more of a drop-back passer, threw for 2,110 yards and 16 touchdowns. Tolen was 72-of-106 for 1,036 yards and 13 touchdowns with no interceptions. He also ran for 255 yards and two TDs.
“It is tough sometimes, especially if I make a mistake or throw an interception. I want to get right back and make up for it,” Strickland said. “But that isn’t always what I get to do, and we are going to do what is best for the team. It’s worked so far.”
“We do it pretty well because both have a part. When one comes out, the other picks each other up,” Tolen said.
Strickland and Tolen are part of nine returning starters for the Indians, who are 22-3 in Leaphart’s two seasons. Other key returnees include defensive end Darrius Bell, offensive lineman Jacob Burgess and top rushers Cody Temples and DeAndre Cook, who combined to rush for more than 2,000 yards last season.
Coach: Chad Leaphart (3rd Season, 63-30 overall)
Last year’s record: 12-1
Number of starters returning: 9
Key returning players: DE Darrius Bell, OL Jacob Burgess RB/S Cody Temples QB Josh Strickland, QB Jy Tolen, S Logan McNatt, LB Matt Hall, RB/LB DeAndre Cook
Newcomers to watch: Matt Reed WR Wells Sykes WR Brice Elrod OL Jaylan Pittman DL Drew Howell LB
Aug. 17: vs. Gray Collegiate
Aug. 24: at Batesburg-Leesville
Aug. 31: at Lexington
Sept. 7: vs. Airport
Sept. 14: vs. Dreher
Sept. 21: vs. River Bluff
Sept. 28: at Swansea
Oct. 12: at Strom Thurmond
Oct. 19: at Edisto
Oct. 26: at Pelion