AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – In T.J. Parker’s first season in charge at Austintown, he led the Falcons to a 7-1 record – the best record for a first year head coach with the Falcons since 1982. Now in his second year, he has one of the best quarterbacks in the Valley leading the way trying to replicate that first season success.
“He has the keys to the car,” says head coach TJ Parker. “There are a lot of things built into our offense that he now has control over.”
One thing Austintown’s Devin Sherwood didn’t have control over was suffering a shoulder injury to his non-throwing arm early last season, but that just might have been a blessing in disguise.
“He had to stay in the pocket, he had to get the ball out quick, he had to be a pocket passer and now he has excelled at that,” Parker said.
“I think last year helped me grow a lot as a player,” said Sherwood. “I was forced to stay in the pocket. A lot of times my sophomore year when things broke down a would run out of the pocket and last year, being forced to stay in the pocket made me a better quarterback and football player.”
It was a breakout year for Sherwood in 2020, racking up over 1,500 yards passing with 21 total touchdowns and being named to our Big 22. Now at 100%, the senior aims to give teams headaches with his arm and his legs.
“I am really looking forward to getting back to running the football,” Sherwood said. “I think I am a fast kid and that I can do some damage with my legs and I am excited to do so.”
“It is great, it gets defenses worried about both,” said senior wideout Tyler Evans. “We are blocking good for him when he decides to take off and run and then we are going to make big plays when he decides to throw it.”
Sherwood has plenty of weapons around him in 2021. Senior wide receivers Tyler Evans and Donnie Ellis add lots of speed on the outside to an offense that averaged 33 points a game last season.
“I mean I do not think we have had speed like this in a long time and it just makes my life a lot easier,” Sherwood said.
One thing that won’t be easy for the Falcons is their schedule, which includes dates with state powers Canton McKinley, Massillon, and Wadsworth. But their hope is the tough schedule gets them ready for a deep playoff run instead of an early exit.
“Hard, hard end to that good season,” Evans said. “We are just reminded of it everyday that one more rep can prevent that loss. So we go harder and harder so that doesn’t happen.”
“That one burns a lot,” Sherwood said. “I would be lying to you if I do not think about it quite a bit. Now it is time to get back and get revenge, that is the only option.”