For nearly 20 years, the Pulaski County High School football program has been blessed with great quarterbacks, dating back to the three-time all-stater Cole Draughn near the start of the 21st century. For the Maroons' football program, a next chapter of great quarterbacks will come in the form of sophomore signal-caller Drew Polston.
"We have been very blessed with great quarterbacks going all the way back to Cole Draughn," stated veteran Pulaski County football coach John Hines. "Then, we had Brett Faulkner, John Perkins, Chris Muse, Zack Eastham, Riley Hall, and Wiley Cain. I think everyone of those guys were all-state at some point of their careers."
"We have had almost 20 years of really nice quarterback play, and we feel like Drew Polston fits into that category," Hines vaunted. "I don't want to put a lot of pressure on him because he is a young player and still learning a lot, but he has got all the tools that we look for in the quarterback position. He has got all the intangibles and the tangibles. He has the opportunity to be every bit a s good as all those other guys I just mentioned."
The young, soft-spoken Polston is well aware of the rich tradition of the great Pulaski County quarterbacks of the past, but right now he is more focused on making himself a better quarterback in hopes of making his team better.
"I definitely have some big shoes to fill with the great quarterbacks of the past at Pulaski County, but I am confident in my team and my abilities," Polston stated. "I just have to work hard everyday to get better."
Up to this point, Polston has been successful at the quarterback position, but he is still unproven at the varsity level. As a freshman last season, Polston saw limited action playing back-up quarterback to the all-state, record-setting Wiley Cain. Last season at the varsity level, Polston completed 14 of his 20 passes for 163 yards - which made up only four percent of the Maroons total passing yardage in 2018.
"The only drawback in Drew's case is that he doesn't have a lot of varsity reps," Hines explained. "He got some mop-up duty last year as a back-up to Wiley (Cain). He played JV ball last year and did a great job with that team, but he hasn't got to play a full game as a varsity quarterback. So, that part will be new to him, and it is going to be interesting to see how well he develops and handles that as we move forward into the season. But as far as potential, Drew Polston has potential that is off the charts, and be a tremendous quarterback for us."
Polston explained that his biggest adjustment so far has been the size of the varsity line, and trying to see over the line to find receivers.
"We are just trying to learn the plays and get our timing down," Polston stated. "My biggest adjustment to the varsity level is how big the line is. In middle school, it was easier to see over the line, and I have to learn how to find the windows in between the line to throw the ball."
Coach Hines knows that reps and more varsity playing time will help Polston in his progress as a varsity quarterback, but the veteran Maroons' coach said there is a couple of things that they have to do as a team to help his young quarterback in his early varsity development.
"First off, we got to do a good job of pass protection to open those lanes up that we are trying to throw the ball into so he can see downfield to see what he wants to see," Hines explained. "We will move Drew a little more, move him out of the pocket, and roll out and bootleg action - which he is very good at. That is a little bit new to our whole offense. We did it some with Wiley (Cain), but we were more of a pocket team with Wiley, who was a taller guy who could just sit back there and throw it all over the field. We are going to do a few little different things with Drew that he can do to help him in that respect."
"For us to be a good offensive unit and take some pressure off our young quarterback and help him mature faster, we have got to be able to run the ball better," Hines warned. "We didn't run the ball well last year, and that was frustrating to us. So, we ended up throwing the ball more than we really wanted to. Obviously, it worked out for us, because we had an all-state senior quarterback and some great receivers, and we were able to move the ball with an air attack. We still want to be able to do that, but we have got to run the ball better."
Polston grew up watching Riley Hall and Wiley Cain play the quarterback positions at Pulaski County High School, and he tried to explain his play comparison to the past two great Pulaski County quarterbacks.
"Wiley (Cain) was more of a pocket passer, but I feel like I play more like Riley Hall where I get out of the pocket and pass it some and run it a little bit," stated Polston.
And while Coach Hines does see a similarity in Polston's play to Riley Hall's play, he explained that Polston is even more unique in his style of play at the quarterback position.
"Drew is different than Wiley Cain's style of play and maybe is more like Riley Hall, and there is even some more differences," Hines said. "One of our coaches compared our Pulaski County quarterbacks to some of the great quarterbacks that people know about. He compared Cole Draughn to Tim Tebow, Chris Muse was more like a Michael Vick, Riley Hall was more like a Joe Montana, Zack Eastham was more like a Brett Favre guy, and Wiley Cain was more of a Peyton Manning style of quarterback."
"So along comes Drew and the closest famous quarterback we can compare him to is more like an Aaron Rodgers type quarterback," Hines said with a smile. "Drew can sit in the pocket and throw the ball downfield where he needs to, but he gets out on the run as well, he can throw it on the run. He is a good athlete, maybe a Pat Mahomes type guy. He is also a baseball player, so he can make plays with his feet, he can run the ball. He is a very smart player. All of our great quarterbacks (at Pulaski County) have had their differences and we think Drew Polston is going to be a great quarterback too."
But Polston does not get too caught up in comparison to the great NFL quarterbacks or the past play callers at Pulaski County High School. He is more focused on improving as a quarterback and trying to make his team better in an effort to win as many games as they can this season.
"Our only goal this season is to win every game that we can and just come out each day and try to get better," Polston stated. "It would be awesome to play on the carpet (at Kentucky's Kroger Field) at the end of the season."
Polson and the Maroons football team will open their season on Friday, Aug. 23 in the Don Franklin Bowl against Lexington Catholic.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.