On occasion, Liberty quarterback Kurt Iverson still feels a twinge when he throws a pass downfield, thanks to a torn labrum in his rotator cuff suffered while pitching for the Eagles junior varsity baseball team as a freshman. But just a twinge.
"It really doesn't hold me back that much," the junior said. "I could probably throw a little harder, have more velocity on my throws. But it doesn't bother me that much."
And it's a good thing, because Liberty Coach Joe Trabucco said much of his team's future success rests on the right arm of Iverson, a first-year starter. The Eagles have struggled to a 1-6 record this year, but Iverson has gradually improved after a shaky start.
In Liberty's 42-28 loss to Warren County last week, he racked up 147 passing yards, the most he has had in one game this season. He also threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions, after entering the game having thrown six picks this season.
Iverson is used to being called upon in tough situations--last season he was promoted to the starting quarterback role on the junior varsity when the team was 0-3--he's just not used to it taking so long to turn fortunes around: He led the JV team to seven straight victories to finish the season.
"I guess you could say it's been a learning experience," he said. "When people ask you what your record is, you have to say 1-6. I don't know, it's hard."
It's also hard having the unenviable job of replacing last year's Northwestern District player of the year, Hank Meadows. But Trabucco said Iverson is actually farther along as a junior than Meadows was at the same stage.
"I think he's going to open some eyes," Trabucco said. "Plus, he doesn't have the receivers Hank had last year."
Early in the season, Iverson said he struggled with many aspects of starting at the varsity level, such as timing, drop-backs and learning the playbook. Lately, he has improved, but Trabucco wants him to become more consistent.
"Some games he plays tremendously," the coach said. "Every read he makes is correct. Then other games it's different."
Trabucco also said Iverson's main weakness is his lack of speed, which Iverson said he will work on during the offseason. In fact, he said he already is looking forward to his senior season.
"I'm real excited," he said. "I think we have a good team now, and we have a lot of young players. It's going to be fun next year."