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Group AA, Div. 3 Football: BeCraft’s brains are Bees’ brawn
BY NATHAN WARTERS
THE FREE LANCE–STAR
THE FREE LANCE–STAR
In the offseason before Kendall BeCraft’s sophomore year at Brookville High School, Bees coach Jeff Woody implemented some offensive changes that helped pave the way for one of the most prolific three-year runs ever by a quarterback in Virginia.
The 6-foot, 170-pound BeCraft is one of the best quarterbacks Woody has ever seen at reading a defense, and he delivers the ball where it needs to go. So the coach installed a no-huddle spread offense to take advantage of BeCraft’s strengths.
BeCraft, now a senior, rewarded the coach’s ingenuity by breaking every school passing record while leading the Bees to a 39–2 mark over the last three years.
“Our offense revolves around lots of timing and fakes,” Woody said. “He does a great job with sending guys in motion at the right time and [executing] the play fakes that allow wide receivers to get open in the back end. He’s done a really good job with the offense in general.”
BeCraft, who is 45–4 in four years as a starter, is most satisfied by that win–loss record, but he’s put up a lot of other great numbers as well.
With 9,630 yards and 104 passing touchdowns in his career, BeCraft has shattered all the passing records at Brookville—a notable accomplishment considering he followed Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech’s current quarterback, as the Bees’ starting signal caller.
BeCraft has passed for 2,897 yards and 33 touchdowns this season for the Bees (13–0). He is second in career yardage in Virginia behind former Oscar Smith and current U.Va. quarterback Phillip Sims (10,725), and fourth in career touchdowns behind Sims (119), Dinwiddie’s Adam Morgan (112) and Gretna’s Vic Hall (105).
“I think that stuff is just icing on the cake,” said BeCraft, who has played the last five games with a strained ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand. “It’s always nice to have that stuff, but the ultimate goal is raising the championship trophy. That’s something we all strive for, day in and day out.”
BeCraft and the Bees took down James Monroe in last year’s Group AA, Division 3 championship game. The two schools square off for the championship again Saturday at Liberty University’s Williams Stadium in Lynchburg.
“I expect a lot of speed,” BeCraft said of JM. “I’m going to have to make quick decisions. I know they’re going to be looking for some revenge, so we’re just going to come out and try to execute the game plan the best we can.”
BeCraft’s growth from promising freshman to confident senior was the product of a lot of time in the film room and a lot of time in the weight room and on the camp circuit, as well.
He said his first completion as a freshman was to a defender for an interception and a touchdown, but his arm has gotten much stronger and he continues to grow in his film study habits and in his ability to read and react on the field.
“Every year you get more experience, you get more comfortable with the offense and you grow,” BeCraft said. “As far as watching film, you understand everything better as the years go on, so I feel like I’m more comfortable with reading defenses and just picking up the game plan and stuff like that.”
BeCraft is so knowledgeable that all Woody has to do at the beginning of the week is tell him what the opposing team does on defense and wait for his quarterback to come up with a rudimentary game plan.
“Basically I can ask him, ‘All right Kendall, what’s the game plan facing this type of defense?’ He’ll tell me we’re going to run this, this and this,” Woody said. “He is the best quarterback I’ve ever coached in regards to reading a defense.
“Granted, Logan Thomas is the best athlete, best football player I’ve ever coached, but Kendall is one of the best high school quarterbacks I’ve ever seen, with his ability to read the defense and know where to go with the football and distribute that thing quickly and in a timely fashion.”
Thomas said he has been impressed by what his successor has done.
“He’s doing a great job, and it’s not just him. He’s got great athletes around him and that especially helps,” said Thomas, who lost to James Monroe in 2008 in his only trip to the state championship game.
“I’m very proud of him and I’m very proud of what he’s accomplished. And he’s also a great kid, which makes it that much better.”
Thomas has become a long-distance role model for BeCraft. The two exchange texts, and BeCraft, who attends a lot of Virginia Tech games, watches Thomas closely to see how he handles himself on the field and sideline.
“It just helps to have somebody on a bigger stage like him looking after you and taking you under his wing. It helps a lot,” BeCraft said.
BeCraft has always wanted to play at Virginia Tech, and the Hokies have offered him a chance to walk on next season. He said he’ll probably end up there if another school doesn’t come in with a scholarship offer.
But before he decides on his future, BeCraft gets another shot at a state championship against a familiar opponent. The Bees and Yellow Jackets face off in the title game for the fourth time since 1996.
“It’s become a rivalry,” BeCraft said of JM–Brook-ville. “It’s always fun to be a part of a big game everybody looks forward to. I know they’re a really, really good football team, so we’ve got to come out and play our ‘A’ game.”
Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442