Home at last, Fields passes new team into postseason
Here’s a high school gridiron oddity for you.
A couple of years ago, James Fields left Glenvar and moved to Eastern Montgomery, where he became an instant starting candidate at quarterback. Eventually, Fields secured the appointment. He’s done extremely well.
Now for the interesting part. The guy who stayed behind at Glenvar, Levi Mullins, has turned out well himself. Looking at the two of them at rival schools, it’s hard to say who has done better.
Simply look at the statistical record this year. There are differences between Fields’ and Mullins’ production in some ways. Fields has more completions and attempts. Mullins has three more touchdown passes (30) and six fewer interceptions (11).
But check out the completion percentage and yardage. Fields has completed 62.8 percent, Mullins 62.6. Fields has 2,458 yards, Mullins 2,457.
Do you suppose if they were both on the same team they’d have combined for 5,000 passing yards? Just kidding about that, but you do have to figure the availability of only a limited number of football would be a continuing problem.
In any event, we may safely conclude that both young men have been reasonably happy with the seasons they’ve had. As a bonus, both are going to the playoffs, Fields and the Mustangs in the Group A Division 1 West, Mullins and Glenvar in Division 2. Fields will be going to the postseason for the first time.
EastMont (4-6) goes to George Wythe (9-1) 7 p.m. Friday as the tournament opens.
“I think this is a big opportunity, especially coming in as a lower seed,” Fields said. “I’m going to have to limit turnovers, try my hardest when I’m out there, make every possession count.”
Making every possession count has been a skill at which Fields excelled. When he started at quarterback for the first time last year, the Mustangs were running the split back veer option offense, which was totally different than the offense he’d been used to at Glenvar. Then, in the offseason, Mustangs coach Mark Poston opted to change offenses and go with the run and shoot spread. Fields had to start over again.
“He’s really done well for us,” Poston said. “Look at our [Three Rivers District] games. The only time he didn’t pass for over 300 yards was Giles and we did 189 against them. That’s pretty good, especially when you factor in that our wide receiving corps has been decimated by injuries. We’re down to freshmen and sophomores.”
Senior receivers J.T. Shrader and Josh Copen, who figured to be team leaders in the aerial attack, were injured and lost for the campaign early in the year. Fields has adapted to changing circumstances.
“I’ve gotten used to all the [replacement] receivers’ speed,” he said. “Everybody has done a great job, especially because we’re really young at the wide receiver corps. They’ve gone above and beyond expectations.”
The Mustangs have also been able to make the spread work because the blocking has been there.
“The pass protection has done a really nice job of protecting him,” Poston said. “If you throw the football 35 or 40 times a game, the law of averages says you’re going to give up a sack our two. But they’ve done really well.”
Left tackle Shane Deweese, center Michael Early, left guard Eli Motley, and right guard Chris Yarbrough have done a job.
“Deweese is the important one,” Poston said. “With his work ethic and ability, we figure that he gives us the best chance to protect our quarterback’s blind side.”
That’s of course another factor. To be a productive quarterback, one must be erect on two feet. Fields has had the arm, the size (6-foot-2, 190), the skills, and the diligence to put it all together.
Speaking of diligence, when Fields was going through the crash course to learn the new terminology and patterns of the spread during the offseason, he spent two hours a day in meetings with coaches and the other QB’s in the program to discuss, chalk talk, and look at game tape.
EastMont’s game tape this year has reflected the results.
-Ray Cox covers recreational, high school and college sports in the New River Valley. If you have information you’d like featured, email email@example.com or call 381-1672.
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