We have a quarterback competition brewing in Ashland, folks. The #2 NAIA ranked Raider football team, fresh off its second consecutive national title game appearance hosted it’s annual Red versus White spring game Saturday evening at Raider Stadium. Team Red redshirt junior quarterback Jack Singler led his team to victory with an impressive outing: 14-18 for 210 yards and 3 TD’s. What’s noteworthy is considering the fact that Singler played primarily a backup role to junior QB Tanner Trosin last season, who was opposite Singler on Team White.
Trosin went 24-40 for 209 yards and 2 TDs, and also led his team in rushing. Trosin’s dual-threat ability, which stymied defenses last year en route to the national title game, is undoubtedly still there. Although Trosin finished the day with completing 60% of his passes, the offense wasn’t quite hitting on full cylinders, turning over the ball on downs three separate times and going 4-13 on third downs.
It wasn’t all bad for Team White though. Building on last season’s success, redshirt junior wide receiver Matt Retzlaff and Trosin connected twice on touchdowns. He finished with 4 catches for 72 yards, alongside the two scores. Retzlaff was the team’s #1 WR last year, leading the team in receiving touchdowns and receiving yards.
When asked about whether there indeed is a battle for the starting QB position, head coach Craig Howard confirmed, saying “It always is. It always is. Competition is the greatest coach in this world.”
While it may sound controversial that Howard isn’t just handing the starting position to his QB that led them to the national title game just a few months earlier, you can’t really blame him for making the competition open. Singler performed superbly in the spring game. The accuracy was there. He showed the ability to maneuver around a collapsed pocket. He stepped up and made big throws–Singler’s first pass of the game was a 44-yard touchdown. More importantly, he led his team to victory. The battle between Singler and Trosin will be something to watch in the summer.
Alright, enough about the quarterbacks.
The game marks the end of spring practice, and a collection of hard work that began back in January. As mentioned earlier, the Raiders are #2 in the nation as of the latest NAIA Spring polls. A lot of eyes are going to be on Southern Oregon football this season, after back-to-back NAIA title game appearances. It is apparent their profile has risen, as the Raiders secured an early season matchup with the NCAA’s UC Davis Aggies. More than ever, execution, attention-to-detail, and hard work needs to be emphasized. What Southern Oregon football has right now is the building blocks of a powerhouse; a dynasty in its’ infancy stage. Throughout the winter and spring, Howard has been pleased with his team’s progress but was discouraged that injuries limited his linebacking and running back corps during practices.
“It was a good Spring Game, a cumulation of hard work starting in January to reach this point … We had a lot of kids beat up. The running backs and linebackers were hurt all spring. Without running backs and linebackers, that hurt us a little bit. Spring is a great time to develop team bonding and work on fundamentals. We’ll heal them up this summer and get ready for fall camp.”
Fall camp traditionally begins during the second week of August, almost two months before the rest of the students report to Ashland for the school year. The Raiders will begin their quest for a third straight national title game appearance when they open up the season on the road against Eastern Oregon on September 3rd.