It isn't often that a standout linebacker also takes on the role of quarterback, but that is exactly what's in the works at Fauquier. Junior Zac Caito, a second-team all-Northwestern District selection at linebacker a year ago, will take over the starting signal caller role for the Falcons.
"Yeah, we'll probably be the only team in the state with our quarterback also playing inside linebacker," Coach Tom Ferrell said. "But he's too important to us on both sides of the ball to sit him down."
Caito saw some work at quarterback last year as the Falcons finished 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the Northwestern District. He split time with Bryan Zopp and Dwayne Foddrell. Caito completed just 10 of 25 passes for 140 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Helping Caito (5-11, 180) will be senior halfbacks J.R. Byrd (5-7, 160) and Chris Douglas (5-8, 155), both of whom boast not only superior quickness but also the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. And junior Michael McCartin (6-1, 183) could be a good new addition to the backfield after moving up from the junior varsity team.
Senior guards Derek Clegg (6-3, 260) and Nicholas Hagy (6-0, 270) return to anchor what is otherwise a small offensive line.
"We're definitely lacking size," Ferrell said. "We've got those two guys, but after them it's way downhill. It seems there's this line drawn in the county, and everybody who's big goes to Liberty and everybody who's small comes here."
Caito and junior Barry Womack (5-10, 190) were the Falcons' leading tacklers a year ago, and both are back at inside linebacker. Senior Chris Payne (6-0, 178) and McCartin will help out the linebacking corps as well, but Clegg is the defensive leader.
Clegg has moved to end from defensive tackle this season to use not only his size but also his quickness to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Ferrell is still trying to solidify starters in a depleted secondary; only Douglas is a returning starter.
The Falcons are neither big nor experienced, but Ferrell has been encouraged by the team's speed and a willingness to do what's necessary to find success. In a district that lacks depth at the top, that could be enough to put the Falcons back in the mix.
"The attitude this year has been very good," Ferrell said. "These kids have done everything we've asked them to do. All we can do is keep working."
-- ANGELA WATTS