Marcus Childers starts at quarterback for Northern Illinois University, and has the Huskies bowl-eligible as a redshirt freshman. He is a dual threat quarterback who made his mark at Adairsville High School — by his senior year, he knew what the next call would be before it came down.
Given his ability to run and continued development as a passer, it’s only natural for Adairsville starting quarterback Mason Boswell to draw comparisons to his predecessor. Boswell, who had only had brief stints at quarterback in eighth grade, has been a revelation for the Tigers, making plays with his legs and through the air.
Having an athlete like Boswell at quarterback is especially useful for the triple option offense Adairsville runs. It’s not exactly the archetypal triple offense like Georgia Tech employs — this Tiger team is prepared and willing to throw the ball to its talented receivers.
“We’re prepared to rush for 300 and throw for 300 on any given night,” Bishop said. “We’ve got a running back playing quarterback. That kind of fits this offense well when you run the triple option, [Boswell is] the second option.”
The 6-foot 195-pound junior has a football lineage — his older brothers played in high school, and his father played running back at Adairsville.
Coming up all the way into this year, Boswell followed in his father’s footsteps, playing running back and lining up at safety on defense.
But with the 2017 season nearing, Bishop sat down and talked with Boswell. He explained why he wanted Boswell to learn to play quarterback — it’s not uncommon for high school teams to play their best athlete at quarterback, and in Bishop’s eyes, that was Boswell.
Boswell — and his family — were surprised by the news, but he embraced the role.
“Good schools have their best players at quarterback,” Boswell said. “I was like, ‘I’ll try it.’ At first I liked it. On Madden, everyone likes playing quarterback.”
He and Bryce Burgess took snaps in the first few games, with both splitting time. He admits that he didn’t worry as much about signals or play calls when he was only playing running back.
Boswell has a bit of golden retriever in him — he’s just happy to be here and takes anything and everything in stride. Want him to change to a position that requires a different mentality and skillset? He’ll embrace it wholeheartedly, start studying on the buses to games and at home with headphones on.
And the strides he’s made since then are remarkable. Boswell is confident and not afraid to take shots downfield. He’s even surprised himself a few times.
Against Calhoun, one of the better teams the Tigers have played all year, Boswell dropped back to pass, and threw a pass up for Cody Henderson, streaking down the field, to go up and get. He did, and Adairsville connected for a big gain.
It was an arrival moment for Boswell midway through the season, an indication that Adairsville had found its quarterback.
“He’s ahead of where I thought he would be,” Bishop said. “The reads he’s making, he’s starting to think and see things he didn’t see earlier in the year as a quarterback.”
Boswell’s punctuation mark came in a late October win-or-go-home game against Lakevew Fort-Oglethorpe. He ran for 209 yards on 27 attempts with three touchdowns, leading the Tigers to a 34-21 win to clinch a state playoff berth.
On a broader scale, Boswell is just a junior, and only figures to get better as he enters his senior year with more experience and newfound intuition, giving Adairsville something hasn’t really had since Childers.
“He’s getting to that point now where he begins to think like us and think like what we want in this offense,” Bishop said. “When they can start finishing your sentences for you, you know things are headed in the right direction. Mason’s getting to that point now.”