Oakland senior quarterback Kade Hewitt is in a much different position at the start of the season than he was in his first year with the Patriots.
No more offensive stars Jordan James (now in Oregon), Isaiah Horton (Miami) and Antonio Patterson (Florida International), along with other key contributors to Oakland’s back-to-back Class 6A State Championships.
This will put a lot more responsibility on the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Hewitt.
“The weight maneuvered. … We’re trying to fill in the gaps and figure it out as best we can, after losing the big guns we had,” Hewitt said.
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With the weapons he had last year, Hewitt didn’t have to push hard during games. He completed 75 of 120 passes for 1,454 yards with 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
He’ll have to carry more of the load offensively, at least until some of the young Patriots settle in.
“I think it just depends on how well we do,” Hewitt said. “We go week in and week out, and (coach Kevin) Creasy’s game plan changes every week. We have to try to be as versatile as possible.
“It just depends on the performance. I absolutely have to step up a gear. I have to deserve my role, gain that weight on my shoulders and, like everyone else, I have to find my place.”
One aspect of Hewitt’s game that Patriot fans haven’t seen much of is his ability to run.
He came to Oakland after a second year at Riverdale in which he started three games at quarterback (and also played tight end) and rushed for 126 yards with four touchdowns.
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He didn’t run much last season, but on Thursday in a scrimmage against Independence he showed his legs in an engineered draw that led to a field goal, running over 20 yards and landing a hit. at the end.
“I think he will have to be an integral part of directing our attack,” Creasy said. “He certainly has games where he can run the ball, an option to run or an option to throw. Our offense certainly hasn’t changed, but it has transformed, knowing he’s a double threat for us. .”
Hewitt’s coaches and teammates are confident in his ability to run one of the most inexperienced offenses Oakland has seen in several years.
“He’s been a really good leader for the younger kids lately, telling them what to do and how he’s going to throw the ball,” said Oakland senior running back Khalil James, who scored the Patriots’ lone touchdown. Thursday in a 10-7 Patriot win over two quarters of college play.
“He’s going to play a very important role in our attack this year.”
“He’s got a lot of weight on him, but he’s ready to be that guy,” Creasy said. “He was always a winner. When he came to us, we didn’t know if he was a quarterback, but we knew he was a winner. Now he’s a great leader and a great quarterback -back.
“I think he’s a great general in the field. He’s made of good material. People are going to gravitate towards that. We’re expecting a big year from him.”
Oakland, which has won 30 in a row, opens the season at home at 7 p.m. Thursday against Hendersonville.
Contact Cecil Joyce at [email protected] or 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Cecil_Joyce.