It’s no secret that football in the city hasn't exactly been fertile ground for quarterbacks. However, the 2013 football season is shaping up to be the year of the senior pocket passer in the Boston City League.
Six of the seven senior quarterbacks in the city (Charlestown's Ibrahima Diallo, West Roxbury's David Bertucci, East Boston's Vincent Lepore, Dorchester's Demetrius Leary, Latin Academy's Kyle Dance and Brighton's Jalen Apperwhite) started last year as juniors.
“I feel like senior year is the time to show everything that I’ve been working for,” Apperwhite said. “Being a quarterback in the city, I feel like I want to show these Catholic schools we still have talent, we’re still as good as you all. Being a quarterback in the city, and actually being good, feels good because you’re making noise not just for yourself but so future players will come to the city.”
While Apperwhite tossed 15 touchdowns in nine games last year, Dance will undoubtedly be the most celebrated of the city's crop of senior signal callers. He’s looking for an encore to his 24 touchdowns last year. Dance was named All-Scholastic and he also was named Player of the Year at the Boston Scholar Athletes program’s All-City football banquet last February.
But Dance said he’s not trying to throw 21 touchdowns this season.
“The TDs really don’t matter to me,” Dance said. “All I’m trying to do is lead my team to the Super Bowl and get a ring. This is my third year, I missed it my sophomore year when we lost in the Super Bowl. So you know, I’m just trying to get back to that stage and win.”
Getting back to that stage will be harder this year under the MIAA’s new statewide playoff system, in which teams will have to win two playoff games instead of one to qualify for the Super Bowl. But this year four BPS teams will likely make the playoffs as opposed to the usual two.
“I’ve been waiting for the playoffs two years now,” Dance said. “Last year I wish there was playoffs because we only lost one divisional game. It would mean a lot.”
Dance and Apperwhite haven’t just been sitting around waiting for senior year. They’ve had productive offseasons, filled with camps, passing leagues and weightlifting.
Brighton coach Randolph Abraham said Apperwhite has grown about two inches and gained about 15 pounds by working out with a personal trainer at the Oak Square YMCA in Brighton.
“I’m looking forward to having him, this will be my third year coaching him,” Abraham said. “He came over and was like a Christmas gift really, the O’Bryant coaching staff was really helpful because they coached him in pop warner so they really pushed for him to play here at Brighton and he’s been a pleasure.
“He’s one of the most intelligent kids we have at Brighton High School but sometimes likes to be an underachiever rather than go as far as he can. So I really challenged him to get his grades up and he finished the year with a 3.66 GPA which I was really proud of.”
Last year Apperwhite literally worked his finger to the bone. After throwing a pass in an October practice, the force of his follow through somehow peeled the skin off his finger.
Apperwhite was rushed to the emergency department at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton before team doctors Diane English (who also serves as one of Boston College’s team doctors) was called in to help.
"It hurt but I was more shocked," said Apperwhite at the time. He had to get six stitches and special tape put on his finger.
Latin Academy coach Rocco Zizza also touted Dance’s football IQ but said his quarterback has improved his mechanics and long ball. He also said Dance will have more targets this year.
“Theoretically, we are more talented this year, and Kyle has a lot more to work with,” Zizza said. “We have better speed this year, a better line, but that’s just on paper. How it works out on the field is obviously a different thing. Injuries are something you have to be aware of too. If we lose one kid, we really lose three kids because most players play both ways.
“We have a kid named Rayshawn Miller, who we think is really good at wide receiver. He’s small, but he’s really quick and fast.”
While Brighton underachieved last year by finishing the season 5-5, Apperwhite’s predecessor, Jonathan Marrero, inspired the junior QB. The former Brighton QB stepped in at Springfield College when the starting quarterback there went down with an injury early in the season.
“I’m glad to hear he’s doing well out there,” Apperwhite said. “He’s talked to me about staying focused on what you do, and keep balling for you and for your team because at the end of the day, if you don’t have that camaraderie with your team, you yourself won’t be doing as well as you possibly can.”
Aside from being quarterbacks, Dance and Apperwhite share one other trait with their senior counterparts in the Boston City League: They can’t wait for their senior season to start.
“I’ve been waiting for this every since last football season ended,” Dance said, “and I’m just happy it’s here and I can’t wait to ball.”
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.