Derby quarterback Brady Rust had a rough start to the 2014 season after returning from right shoulder surgery on a torn labrum.
“He was throwing at ankles,” coach Brandon Clark said. “He’s light years ahead of last year. He’s faster. He’s stronger. He throws the ball really well.”
Rust is a key component for Derby’s quest to return to the Class 6A title game for the second time in three seasons. Derby, which finished 9-2 in 2014, was unbeaten in 2013.
“My arm wasn’t strong last year,” said Rust, a senior, who had a combined 1,300 passing and rushing yards. “Now I’m getting to where I feel pretty confident just because of the hard work I’ve put in.”
Rust has multiple options to throw to, including Garrett Xanders, Kai Lemons and Kenyon Tabor (6-foot-4, 190 pounds).
Xanders also is a speedy back who is so versatile that Clark used him as a backup quarterback, running back, receiver and tight end.
“Garrett’s a three-sport athlete, and wrestling helps him at running back,” Clark said. “He’s always on his feet; he’s hard to bring down because he’s got great balance. He’s also our emotional spark plug.… He’s not very big, so he’s able to hide behind that big offensive line. Sometimes we’ll lose him back there.”
Trevor Hudson (6-4, 290), a senior, anchors the offensive line.
Linebacker was a question early, but Clark said depth has been built around Tommy Carter. The secondary is strong with Damare Simms and Jacob Moeder leading the way.
The defensive line has some holes, but it will be manned primarily by Peerless Walker and Ryan Stang.