By Matthew Girard
Killeen Daily Herald
Shoemaker coach Ken Gray has had a tradition of talented quarterbacks in his eight years as the Grey Wolves' head coach.
His past two starting quarterbacks have moved on to play college football, and once again Gray could have another college-bound quarterback running his high-powered offense.
Soon-to-be junior Jameill Showers will take over the quarterbacking duties from Andre Smith, who signed with Arkansas State earlier this year after earning All-District 13-5A First-Team honors and leading the district in passing during his senior season.
Although Smith racked up 18 total touchdowns and threw for more than 1,400 yards in 2007, Showers burst on to the scene in the final game of the season after Smith was forced to sit out because of a separated shoulder.
Against playoff-bound Bryan's district-leading defense, Showers accounted for four touchdowns and led the Grey Wolves to 497 yards of total offense in a 49-28 loss.
Even though Showers played in just one game last season, the 6-foot then-sophomore nearly made Shoemaker fans forget about Smith altogether on the second play of the game after connecting with M.J. Porter on a 61-yard touchdown on his first pass attempt as a varsity quarterback. If that wasn't impressive enough, Showers did himself one better later in the first quarter on his second attempt, a 41-yard touchdown strike to Derrick Mays.
This year, the starting quarterback job is Showers' to lose.
Mays said he hasn't noticed much difference between Smith and Showers so far in spring practice.
"Him replacing 'Dre, is really no big difference," Mays said. "He's got a way better arm and he looks pretty good to me."
Gray said both his quarterbacks (Showers and Lonnie Eubanks) have benefited from being around the program for the past few years.
"In cases like Jameill or Lonnie Eubanks, they've been in our system long enough they know how to run our offense," Gray said. "That kind of relieves the pressure of replacing an Andre Smith. Just like Andre stepped in and did a great job because he made people forget Keith Smith (Purdue). It's just a natural progression at this point."
Senior defensive end R.J. Allen said following in Smith's footsteps shouldn't be hard for Showers.
"We don't think about filling anybody's shoes," Allen said. "Everybody has a fresh beginning, and with Jameill, he's a great player, and outstanding person. I have a lot of faith in him. He's got a strong arm, like Andre. He's a real mobile quarterback."
The Grey Wolves finished the '07 season with a 2-8 overall record and were 1-5 in 13-5A play, and are still looking for their first postseason playoff appearance in school history.
Despite a disappointing season, Gray said the offense should be as just as potent as last year's.
"Everybody is talking about our quarterback, Jameill Showers, but our receivers did a fine job last year," Gray said. "We led the district in total offense last year, so we are doing a lot of good things."
Along with Showers, Mays and Porter all returning, running back Dion Demers is also back for the Grey Wolves. Demers, who will be entering his senior season after being named to the District 13-5A first team as a junior, rushed for 989 yards and averaged 98.9 yards per game. Demers also rushed for 306 yards in a game against Belton, and rushed for 240 against Bryan in the final game of the season.
Mays said the key to the Grey Wolves' success in '08 is simple.
"All we have to do is be coachable," Mays said. "We just need to do what our coaches tell us to do and do what we are supposed to do. ... If we are not all working together, it's not going to work."
Gray said the entire team is ready to get the new season started.
"They are excited and eager," Gray said. "They know that we all have to make plays and step up."
Although some might be excited about how prolific the Shoemaker offense could be in the fall, Mays said the Grey Wolves aren't thinking ahead.
"We are just taking it one game at a time, really," Mays said.
Contact Matthew Girard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569.