HANNIBAL – Courtland Watson will add his name to a little bit of Hannibal football history Friday night.
When Watson takes his first snap as the starting quarterback in the season opener against Jefferson City Helias, he’ll be just the second sophomore in school history to start a game at quarterback. He’s the first since Kalin Sharkey became the starting quarterback in Week 4 of the 1990 season.
Watson insists there’s no pressure to perform.
"I just want to do the best I can," Watson said. "I just need to stay focused."
He’s undoubtedly earned the trust first-year coach Quentin Hamner and the rest of the Hannibal coaching staff. The Pirates entered camp looking for a starting quarterback with the graduation of Gabe Worthington.
Watson, senior Preston Bennett and junior Hunter Parker all battled for the starting spot. Watson’s skillset won out.
"I think he brings versatility, and really it’s about fit for us," Hamner said. "We want to be able to utizlie the whole field, and Courtland fits what we want to do right now."
Hamner also believes Bennett and Parker need to be apart of the Pirates’ gameplan moving forward. That’s why he’s had both players lining up at wide receiver for the opener.
In last week’s Hannibal Jamboree, Watson completed a few passes to Bennett, including a short touchdown pass in the scrimmage against Palmyra.
Those two at wide receiver, along with the duo of Damien French and Daylan Reading in the backfield, give Watson weapons at his disposal.
"Daylan and Damien run really hard," Watson said. "They’ll get us yards."
Watson knows the more he can get the ball to those playmakers, the easier his job becomes on Friday nights.
That’s exactly what the coaching staff wants from their quarterback.
"I want him to be fundamental and have great decision-making skills," Hamner said. "I don’t want him to try and win the game. I just want him to play within his capacity and put our guys in the best positions within the gameplan. I don’t need any more than what he’s asked to do, and to do it well."