As the afternoon wore on, the disparity between Drew’s and Samson’s playing styles grew more and more clear. Samson was patient. He sat in the pocket and waited for his moves to become clear. As long as he was in the pocket, he was perfect. Didn’t miss a pass. But when he was flushed out, when the blitz was coming, he went down or threw the ball away nine times out of ten. As far as Drew could see, he had no speed. No dexterity. His arm and his aim were perfect, but he wasn’t the greatest on the fly.
Every time Samson was sacked, Drew felt the accretion of his own confidence. Because no one could catch him. He had a fabulous acumen when it came to defenses—was able to read them with no problem—and he had the speed to escape if his O-line went down. He gave himself and his receivers extra time just by being able to scramble out of the pocket. And that time was incredibly valuable. When it came right down to it, he had to say, he was a much more dynamic quarterback than Samson Hill. Maybe not as accurate, but he could run with the ball, he could protect the ball—he hadn’t fumbled since that awful scene in front of his father—and he could manage the game. These were all qualities a good coach looked for in a QB.
“All right, guys. Nice work,” Coach Lewinter said after an hour of practice. “Now let’s have a little fun.”
Drew glanced at Samson, whose curious look mirrored his own. They had been equally aloof to each other all afternoon, and Drew wanted to kick himself for this one second of connection. This guy was the enemy. The enemy. They were not in this together.
“Coach! We’re ready for you!” Coach Lewinter shouted.
Across the field, Davidson raised an arm and blew his whistle, stopping all the other drills in their tracks.
“What’s up, Coach?” Samson asked finally.
“You’ll see,” Coach Lewinter said with an almost sadistic smile. “You boys step to the line,” he said, indicating the fifty yard line.
Drew’s heart started to pound. All around him, the rest of the team was starting to gather. Coach Lewinter grabbed two bags of balls and created two piles in front of Samson and Drew, allocating them each about twenty balls. Drew glanced at Jason and Clay as they took their spots along the sidelines. They both shrugged. No one seemed to know what was going on, but the entire team now circumscribed the practice area.
“I got a bad feeling about this,” Samson said under his breath.
“You’re not the only one,” Drew replied.
Standing there in front of all those people, Drew did a complete 180. Suddenly he was grateful for Samson’s presence. Whatever this was, it was probably not going to be pretty.
Then, all the way down at the top of the end zone, the coaches rolled out a pair of receiving dummies. One for Drew, one for Samson. Everyone on the sidelines laughed. Drew, however, felt the color rise in his face. What was this, some kind of joke?
“Langford! Carradine! Get over here!” Coach Davidson called out.
Clay and Corinth’s Tank Langford, the two behemoths of the team, hopped to and jogged to the end zone.
“All right, guys, here’s how this is going to work!” Coach Lewinter called out. “Tank and Carradine over here are going to push these dummies back and forth so you guys will have moving targets. You’ll pass from fifty yards until you complete a pass. Then forty, then thirty, then twenty and so on to the ten.”
“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Drew said under his breath. His tenuous hold on his temper started to slip. This was so not what he needed. This drill was tailor-made for a quarterback like Samson. But for Drew, it would be a nightmare.
“Whoever completes from each yard line first is the winner,” Coach Lewinter finished.
“Uh, Coach?” Samson said lightly, raising his hand. “Any way we can abstain from this one?”
“Sorry, Hill. You gotta do what you gotta do,” Lewinter said. “Everybody ready?”