This article was written by a student of ENGL 2310: Introduction to Journalism, which is taught by Mike Pulley.
CENTRAL — Over the last two seasons, Daniel High School relied heavily on Tyler Venables on their way to a 22-3 record and an Upper State Finals appearance.
Now with Venables playing for Clemson, the Lions are moving forward at the quarterback position, and if the Lion's hot start is any indication of what's to come, Daniel football should be in good shape no matter who is behind center.
Coming out of the 2019 season, it didn't seem like there would be a competition. Senior quarterback/receiver Jackson Crosby sat behind Venables for two years and was exceptional in relief of the All-State quarterback, leaving no question to who would guide the Lions during the 2020 season.
However, things became more complicated with the arrival of senior transfer quarterback Wise Segars and the growth of former JV quarterback Trent Pearman. Segars came to Daniel after leading A.C. Flora to an 11-2 season in 2019 and was the most apparent challenger, but the junior Pearman, who is the son of Clemson assistant head coach Danny Pearman, impressed the Daniel coaching staff with his knowledge of the playbook.
Once fall began, Pearman, surprisingly, received first team reps in practice over both seniors. Despite this early surprise, the trio showed no animosity over the building battle with Segars, mentioning the bond built that held the group together.
"We're definitely really close," said Segars. "Obviously whoever wins the job, we're all going to be happy for him."
Even with Pearman getting first reps, Daniel Coach Jeff Fruster kept an even rotation among the three and played up the competition during fall camp.
"I love competition," said Fruster. "Any time you have multiple guys striving to be on top, it makes the team that much better."
After two weeks of practice, Fruster made his choice known, picking the experienced Crosby over the newcomers.
"He's been in this system for three years now," Fruster said following the game against Seneca on Sept. 25. "I don't know if anyone here knows it better than him and that helped make the decision."
Crosby didn't disappoint and he led the team in total offense through two weeks having thrown, rushed and received for 356 total yards and six touchdowns during the Lions opening wins against Seneca and Pendleton.
Meanwhile, both Pearman and Segars proved to be more than capable themselves. Pearman threw for 142 passing yards and two touchdowns and Segars looked unstoppable as a dual threat, rushing for three touchdowns through the first two weeks.
Heading into the Lion's week three game against defending 4A State Champions, Wren on Oct. 9, expectations remained high for the trio. However, just days before the game, Crosby was forced out of action due to a COVID-19 related quarantine.
Facing arguably their toughest test of the season, the Lions turned to Pearman as the starter. After a slow first half, Pearman came out slinging in the second and finished the game with 263 yards of offense and three touchdowns in a 30-10 win.
Off to a region leading 3-0 start, the Lions have outscored opponents 161-51 so far this season, and with the success of all three quarterbacks, the Lions have shown they are in good hands even without Venables.
"We're all pushing each other," Crosby said. "We all know that we can get the job done.”