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Monday, September 07, 2009

Staying put and ready to pass with big success

Hoover High junior quarterback expecting bigger and better things for this season

By Charles Rich
Published: Last Updated Wednesday, September 2, 2009 7:55 PM PDT
The odds are good that AJ Pule will play only one position this season for the Hoover High football team.

It will be an important position, one that just might translate into how much success the Tornadoes will achieve during the next 10 weeks.

With the plans in motion and the clock ticking down on the season opener, Pule will look to lead Hoover to its first victory since 2006. He’s set to go, beginning Sept. 10 with a season-opening nonleague home contest against Sierra Vista at Glendale High’s Moyse Field.

“I’ve practiced a lot at quarterback,” said Pule, a junior who started at wide receiver before becoming the Hoover quarterback during the third week of last season. “It will be good having to just be playing one position, but it’s an important one.

“I like to play both wide receiver and quarterback, but I’m more happy playing quarterback. At quarterback, you are more looked on being the team leader and having the ability to step up and perform.”

Pule completed 56 of 146 passes for 1,009 yards and four touchdowns last season for a Hoover squad that went 0-10 and 0-7 in the Pacific League. He’d like to improve on those numbers, in addition to helping get the Tornadoes in the win column for the first time since it recorded a 22-15 league victory against cross-town rival Glendale on Nov. 9, 2006.

Hoover second-year Coach Chris Long gained confidence in Pule being able to get the job done for the Tornadoes after watching him perform last season.

“With him, it will be all about consistency,” Long said. “We have spoken about it all year long.

“The goal that we have going into this season is to throw no more than five picks. That can be done. I’ve told him to not force every throw he makes. If you have to take a sack, then so be it.”

Should he receive ample protection in the pocket, Pule just might have the Tornadoes in position to win a few games, but the speedy Pule is well-versed outside of the pocket, as well.

Having quality receivers would sure go a long way, too. One of them might be junior DeVaghn Williams, who caught 10 passes for 120 yards and one touchdown last season.

“I hope we can play catch throughout the year and win some games,” said Williams, who will also start at corner back. “He’s got a cannon for an arm.

“He’s got good accuracy on his passes. He throws the ball right on the money.”

Pule will strive to do that by playing quarterback for a full season for the first time in two years. He last accomplished the feat while playing quarterback during his freshman year at Overland High in Aurora, Colo.

Pule started for the Overland freshman team before being called up to the varsity squad as a reserve before transferring to Hoover.

When he arrived at Hoover, Pule found himself on a team that lacked experience and the inability to put decent drives together against faster and stronger teams in league.

“We had a lot of juniors last year and just a few seniors,” Pule said. “Now, we are looking ahead and focusing on the present.”

Hoover will also compete in a pair of nonleague games against South Pasadena and San Marino before beginning league competition Oct. 2 against Pasadena at Pasadena City College.

The schedule will only get tougher with additional league battles against defending league champion Muir, Crescenta Valley, Burroughs and an improved Glendale.

Pule keeps studying the playbook and practicing so that he’ll have it down pat come Sept. 10.

“It’s first about having good foot work,” Pule said. “To be a good quarterback, you have to be smart and think also like a corner back, safety, linebacker or wide receiver.

“It’s very tough, but something I want and like to do.”

Pule will most likely have four wide receivers to complete passes to.

Williams, Elvis Fuentes, Dymond McRae and Azar Razikeen are his likely targets.

Pule had several good performances at passing league tournaments across the region. However, it will be more difficult with the pads on and linemen charging at him at full speed on every play during the season.

“It’s going to be about whoever can step up, and I want that to be me,” Pule said. “You just have to be able to go out there and execute.

“Go out there and train hard and know your assignments so that you’ll be able to help guide your team.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Proud to be a part of this century witnessing young Football Players starting their careers early, as they progress with time academics, a good support team, master oneself, and pure determination will prove be the key role in success. Manuia le malaga mo mafaufauga pulea...

A Mum...