n 2007, Clover Park coach Jon Randall had concerns about starting a freshman quarterback.
It wasn’t as if Tana Pritchard didn’t have the physical tools. It’s just that baptism by fire is something most coaches try to avoid with young players.
“That’s an awful lot to ask of a 15-year-old quarterback,” Randall said, “but at the start of the season both our senior quarterbacks were ineligible. Tana stepped right in and took control of the position. By the time the two seniors returned they couldn’t beat him out.
“So it’s basically been Tana’s team since he arrived here.”
Now a senior, Pritchard enters his final season as the Warriors’ quarterback and expectations couldn’t be higher as Clover Park steps into the newly formed South Puget Sound League 2A, which appears to be as wide open as any league in the state.
All eight teams appear evenly matched, meaning a handful of plays could catapult any school from also-ran to champion.
Making the big play should be part of Pritchard’s routine.
“Everyone here is very excited about the upcoming season,” Pritchard said. “We’re young at some positions, but everyone has put in a lot of work this summer. (Clover Park) hasn’t had the best of records the last couple of years. We want to change that.”
Pritchard, who has already received a scholarship offer from UNLV and is drawing interest from Washington and Washington State, possesses all the attributes one would want in a quarterback looking to lead an inexperienced squad to newfound success.
His natural athletic ability is enough to cause defensive coordinators plenty of headaches, but when you factor in his game smarts, competitiveness and willingness to work, suddenly the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Pritchard is even more dangerous on the field.
“The great thing about Tana is he’s worked hard to improve every year he’s been in our program,” Randall said. “His mechanics have improved. His reads have improved. His work ethic and dedication to improve, combined with his size, speed and athleticism, really make him a special player.”
According to Pritchard, his bloodlines played a large role in helping him develop into the type of player he is today. It’s easy to understand how that would be the case.
His brother, Tavita, played quarterback at Stanford and is best remembered for leading the 41-point underdog Cardinal to an improbable 24-23 upset over top-ranked Southern California in 2007.
His father, David, started at center for Washington State in 1981.
Uncle Jack Thompson followed up his record-setting quarterback career at WSU by being selected third overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1979 NFL draft and played six seasons of professional football.
Pritchard will once again be called upon to play defense – something he excelled at last year as he led the team in interceptions from his safety position en route to earning first-team all-league honors.
“He’s not your typical quarterback, he likes contact,” Randall said. “He’s a physical player.
“His first two years he didn’t play defense because we were so thin at quarterback we couldn’t afford to have anything happen to him. We have depth at the position now and turned him loose last season and he excelled at it.”