LINCOLN CITY — Antonio Suarez, who can strike deep with startling accuracy, will be Taft High School’s new quarterback as the Tigers look for a comeback in the 3A league next fall.
The Tigers turned to Suarez, a sophomore, late in the 2018 season after veteran quarterback David Jin was sidelined with a concussion. No stranger to the game, the 16 year old began his football career in Idaho as a fourth grader in the Optimist League before moving to Lincoln City three years ago.
“I feel good,” declared Suarez, who packs 180 pounds on a five-ten frame after two years of weight training. “Last year I was the quarterback for JV and did pretty good, but there’s definitely room to learn.”
As he proved in Wednesday’s scrimmage against Toledo, Suarez can lob the pigskin 50 yards and hit a moving target. He claimed his real talent is the mid-field, where crossing routes and slants give him plenty of targets for the fast release.
“He’s a complete athlete,” beamed Head Coach Jake Tolan, who said Suarez served as a defensive end on last year’s varsity team before filling in for the injured Jin, who has since graduated. “He showed a lot of maturity as a young sophomore and really competed well. He doesn’t like to lose.”
That could be an asset Tolan would like to exploit as he tries to guide the Tigers (1-8 in 2018) out of the cellar of their 3A special district league, which includes reigning state champion Rainier, semi-finalist Amity and playoff contenders Willamina and Clatskanie.
“It’s a tough league, but we were one of the younger teams last year,” Tolan remarked. “We’re older and more skilled this year, bur even our non-league schedule is going to be full of playoff teams like Harrisburg, Sutherlin and Yamhill."
Tolan described his returning athletes as a “core group of guys” who are up to the task, however. At least 25 athletes have turned out for summer practices and weight sessions. The public is invited to attend the workouts on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 9 a.m.