Remy Mastey is a sports journalism student at Arizona State University covering Gilbert High School athletics.
Two is always better than one.
At least that is the case for the Gilbert Tigers football team who have decided to go with a unique, yet effective strategy of using two quarterbacks during its games.
After an 0-2 start to the season, the offense was having trouble generating momentum, therefore coach Derek Zellner and his staff knew they needed to make some changes. That's when the team made the difficult and gutsy decision to start splitting reps between sophomore Danny Hesse and junior Ethan Greenberg.
Originally, it was only Hesse who was the quarterback for the Tigers. However, Greenberg demonstrated, through his hard work, that he was capable of being a great dual-threat quarterback. This new addition would bring a much needed spark to the offense.
This has led the Tigers to improve tremendously. Ever since adapting to the two-quarterback strategy, Gilbert has won three straight games and has never looked back. Between Hesse and Greenberg’s different style of play, the opposing defense has been forced to stay on their toes.
When Greenberg is in the game, the team is more likely to attack the run game as Greenberg is a threat to take off on any given play. When the 6-foot-4 Hesse is in, the offense takes advantage of his strong arm and pivots to the passing game.
“It gives the defense something else to chew on because they have to see which quarterback is in and then they have to change their defense to fit that,” said center Carson Bryce. “So it kind of throws them for a loop and gives us more options to have both of them.”
Not only does the opposing team have to adjust to the quarterback switch mid-game, but the Tigers have to be prepared to adapt as well.
Besides their opposite playing habits, the main difference between Greenberg and Hesse is their glaring height difference. Greenberg being 5-foot-8 compared to Hesse’s 6-foot-4 frame is something the Tigers always have to keep in the back of their minds.
“First of all, the height difference as a snapper, I just have to keep an eye out for who is behind me at all times. I have to know who is there so I can change my snap accordingly,” said Bryce. “The only thing that changes is my release point, my angle and where my hand places it.”
The transition mid-game between Hesse and Greenberg has been described as smooth by offensive coordinator Ben Patrick. The team enjoys knowing that they have both players available and ready to jump in at any time.
By using two quarterbacks in the course of a game, both Hesse and Greenberg are able to stay fresh and avoid the looming threat of a serious injury.
“It just helps us share getting hit. I don't take all the hits during the game, he takes some, I take some so we both have time to take a break during the game,” Hesse stated.
Knowing that there is another quarterback that can step in makes Greenberg a lot more comfortable. He can rely on Hesse if he is not feeling well or in full form.
Despite competing for the same job, Greenberg and Hesse do not think about their individual stat line but instead are only focused on making the team better.
“We know either way, even if we are competing for the starting job, that the team comes first and we want to win,” said Greenberg. “No matter what, once it's game time we lock in and stay together.”
Greenberg and Hesse compliment each other like bread and butter as the two always have each other’s back. They also guide each other in order to improve as players.
Since Greenberg is such a talented runner, he takes time to teach Hesse how to effectively roll out and when to escape the pocket. The assistance goes both ways, with Hesse making sure Greenberg knows his reads and quizzes him with material from the playbook.
While watching film and spending a lot of time together, Hesse and Greenberg have formed an unbreakable bond on and off the field which has helped the double quarterback strategy be extremely effective.
“He is a super happy person and a really cool person that I love talking to off the field. He is really nice and I love his work ethic,” Greenberg said.
Hesse has only mutually good words for Greenberg as well, saying, “he is a fun guy, you can really hang out with him anywhere. He makes everything fun, makes football fun, makes hanging out with him fun. He is just a good friend.”
The selfless acts of the two field generals have helped build a strong camaraderie throughout the team and has sent a defining message that no player is above the team's successes.
With the plan working and throwing off every defense they go to war against, the Tigers don’t plan to stop using both quarterbacks anytime soon. They will continue to do so until other teams figure out how to stop their potent offense.
The Gilbert Tigers will face off against Horizon on Oct. 15, where they will look to continue their hot style of play and extend their four-game winning streak.