High School Football: Shawnee two-QB system paying dividends

Shawnee High School junior RJ Griffin runs the ball during their game against Kenton Ridge earlier this season. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
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Shawnee High School junior RJ Griffin runs the ball during their game against Kenton Ridge earlier this season. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

SPRINGFIELD — While some programs may shy away from a two-quarterback system, the Shawnee High School football team embraces it.

History shows it can be effective, said longtime Braves coach Rick Meeks.

Two seasons ago, Shawnee’s Robie Glass and Drew Mitch each saw time at quarterback and wide receiver, often swapping roles during possessions. The Braves went 9-3 that season and advanced to the Division V, Region 20 semifinals.

“Drew was more of a tight end, possession receiver and Robie was more of a gamebreaker,” Meeks said, “and they both could throw the football. We’ve got the same thing with RJ and Zane. It’s not the same dynamic, but they’re both quality guys. Both can run the ball, throw the ball and make plays for you.”

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This year, the Braves have implemented a similar two-QB system with junior RJ Griffin and sophomore Zane Mercer. Since starting the season 0-2, the Braves have won six straight games in which both quarterbacks have played prominent roles.

Griffin is 48-for-76 for 643 yards with five touchdowns through the air and has rushed for 445 yards and eight TDs. Mercer is 31-for-46 for 349 and four TDs and has rushed for 367 yards and five TDs. Both have a QB rating of over 150.

“RJ is the guy and Zane is our reliever, our changeup guy,” Meeks said. “It really just depends on what we need each week.”

Mercer had a breakout game against Carroll in Week 3 as Griffin missed time due to an injury. In Week 4 against Indian Lake, Meeks decided to play both at quarterback to keep Griffin on the field on defense, he said. Both quarterbacks also play defensive back for the Braves.

“It’s one of those where if we need a spark, we’ll make the change,” Meeks said. “If we don’t need a spark, we may not make the change, and it depends on the defensive gameplan.”

Griffin saw the majority of the snaps against Kenton Ridge and Bellefontaine. Last week, Mercer saw the majority of the snaps against Tecumseh, while Griffin rested due to an injury.

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The Braves have outscored opponents 214-94 over the last six weeks.

“To their credit, they’ve both handled it well,” Meeks said. “They could be selfish and say they wanna be the guy full-time and neither one of them has done that. Each has been cheering on the other guy when he’s in there, which is really good to see. It’s about the team. They want to win.”

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Shawnee High School sophomore Zane Mercer celebrates after crossing the goal line during their game against Northwestern earlier this season. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Credit: Name Test

Shawnee High School sophomore Zane Mercer celebrates after crossing the goal line during their game against Northwestern earlier this season. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
caption arrowCaption
Shawnee High School sophomore Zane Mercer celebrates after crossing the goal line during their game against Northwestern earlier this season. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

The offense has gotten a big boost from junior running back Max Guyer, who’s rushed for 636 yards and 10 TDs. Both quarterbacks have benefitted from Guyer’s presence in the Braves read option rushing attack, Meeks said.

“That’s where it starts,” Meeks said. “If we didn’t have Max, we’d have some issues. That read option game may not be as good.”

Shawnee faces a tough test this week against London (6-2). The Braves and Red Raiders are tied atop the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division standings at 3-0. A year ago, the Braves faced a similar matchup with London, but lost 34-7.

The Red Raiders have a big, physical offensive line and one of the top running backs in the CBC in Antwaun Burns (740 yards rushing, 10 TDs).

“They’re physical,” Meeks said. “You can tell they live in the weight room. They get off the ball. We’re going to be sore — win or lose — on Saturday morning. It’s going to be as physical a team as we’ve gone up against all year. We’ve got to meet the challenge physically and make some plays offensively.”

Shawnee got off to its first 0-2 start since 2015, but has gotten back on track since a Week 2 loss at unbeaten Eaton. They’re seeking their first CBC Kenton Trail title in a decade and are firmly entrenched in the top-8 of the Division V, Region 20 playoff ratings.

“We just kept plugging away,” Meeks said. “There is no magic. We’ve got young, inexperienced players. We just kept plugging away.”

Friday’s Games

Greater Western Ohio Conference

Springfield (7-0, 5-0) at Miamisburg (5-3, 2-3): The Wildcats beat the Vikings 42-7 in their last trip to Miamisburg in 2019.

Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail

London (6-2, 3-0) at Shawnee (6-2, 3-0): The Braves are 1-1 against the Red Raiders since they joined the division in 2019.

Kenton Ridge (3-5, 0-3) at Bellefontaine (5-3, 1-2): The Cougars are seeking their first win against the Chieftains since 2015.

Jonathan Alder (4-4, 2-1) at Tecumseh (3-5, 0-3): Since starting the season 0-3, the Pioneers have won four of their last five games, including a 42-7 win against Bellefontaine last week.

Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division

Northwestern (0-8, 0-3) at Urbana (1-7, 1-2): The Warriors last victory came against the Hillclimbers 41-14 last season.

Benjamin Logan (3-5, 1-2) at Graham (4-3, 1-2): The Falcons have won three straight against the Raiders, including a 33-32 overtime thriller last season.

Ohio Heritage Conference South Division

Catholic Central at Greeneview: The Irish are seeking their first victory against the Rams since 2012.

Madison-Plains (1-7, 0-3) at Greenon (5-2, 3-0): The Knights have won 13 straight OHC South Division games.

Cedarville (0-3, 0-8) at Southeastern (2-5, 1-2): The Trojans have won six straight games against their longtime rival.

Ohio Heritage Conference North Division

Mechanicsburg (8-0, 3-0) at West Liberty-Salem (1-6, 0-3): The Indians are 17-1 in their last 18 games, including 14 straight regular season victories.

Northeastern (5-3, 1-2) at Triad (2-6, 0-3): With the victory, the Jets can clinch their first winning season since 2010.

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