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Anderson passes the test of leadership at quarterback
It might be a stretch to suggest that consistency within the South Kitsap football program centers around the quarterback.
After all, the Wolves have run the ball on roughly 75 percent of their plays in recent years.
But it also doesn’t make it easy to achieve success within a high-school program when a coaching staff must groom a new starter every year. And that’s one reason why coach D.J. Sigurdson is excited to have Gordy Anderson back as the starter for a second consecutive year.
“He’s got a lot of game experience and knows exactly what to expect,” Sigurdson said. “No matter what’s going on the field, he’s going to maintain his composure. He’s kind of the calm in the storm.”
That experience didn’t necessarily come in a manner preferable to the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Anderson. Bryan Dorsey, a 2009 graduate, was slated to start before he tore meniscus in his right knee before the season. Anderson went on to complete 48 of 87 passes for 681 yards and six touchdowns. He also threw four interceptions.
When South plays at noon Saturday against Kennewick at Qwest Field, Anderson will be the first quarterback to start consecutive season openers since Kyle Pease (2004-05). But Sigurdson notes there’s a significant difference between Pease and Anderson.
“Our quarterback (Pease) returned, but he didn’t have a great ’04,” he said. “Gordy won six games last year.”
Quarterback has been a trouble spot for the Wolves, who have advanced to the state playoffs just once since 2002. In 2007, when they finished 7-4 and qualified for state, Chad Tester volunteered to play quarterback because of a lack of depth at the position. He now is a linebacker at Central Washington University.
The position might not have been solidified this year had Anderson not taken an interesting path to it. During tryouts at Sedgwick Junior High, Anderson saw his classmates scurrying to position to line up at running back and wide receiver. Quarterback typically is known as a glamor position, but it mostly was ignored by his friends.
The seventh-grader saw opportunity.
“I was planning to go into the tight-end line, but there were so many kids there,” he said. “There were only like two quarterbacks in line and I’ve been doing that ever since.”
One of those players was Scott McGallian, who didn’t play football at South, but played with Anderson as a left-handed pitcher on the baseball team. Quarterbacks typically are pitchers — the translation comes through arm strength — but Anderson is a catcher.
“Ever since Little League I’ve played catcher,” he said. “You’re always getting the ball and you’re always active. I like being in that role and leading my teammates.”
It’s the latter quality that has endeared Anderson to his teammates. Senior wide receiver Leon La Deaux is regarded as one of the hardest workers on the team — he also plays basketball and football — and appreciates that his quarterback is as committed to success as he is. Both attended several camps during the summer, including Eastern Washington, the University of Washington and Washington State. Anderson also went to Central Washington’s camp.
“As a quarterback he’s developed so much,” La Deaux said. “His arm is stronger and more accurate, and his decision making has improved. He’s gone from a good high-school quarterback to potentially a great one.”
Anderson and La Deaux have been teammates since soccer in fourth grade. La Deaux said their sense for playing together is so developed that longtime WSU wide receivers coach Mike Levenseller asked La Deaux’s parents how long they’ve been playing together.
“I have all the confidence in him,” Anderson said.
But after last year’s experience, he also likes the other “good playmakers out there” when it comes time to throw.
“I think this year is going to be so much better because I have that experience,” he said. “I know my reads, pace of the game and what’s going to happen.
“We have high expectations for our team. We have a lot of returners coming back and we’re working really hard to go far.”