QB battle highlights Lovejoy camp

HAMPTON — Long before now, Lovejoy coach Al Hughes would like to have his quarterback position settled.

But that wasn’t the case Wednesday as the Wildcats packed their equipment and headed to Mount Vernon for a four-day camp at Brewton-Parker College.

By the time the team makes its way back to Hampton on Sunday, Hughes and offensive coordinator Craig Chatman is hoping one of the three players in the battle will emerge as the starter.

“I really like for the quarterback position to be solid going into preseason practice,” Hughes said. “I don’t mind battles at the other position, in fact, I want them to battle at the other positions. I just like for the quarterback spot to be solidified.”

Wildcats offensive coordinator Craig Chatman said each of the three players — Camaron Hill, Khalil Rogers and Quintin Neely — bring different attributes and skill sets to the position. Chatman said the offense will stay the same, but be modified to fit whoever wins the battle skill ability.

”We are not doing anything different than the past,” Chatman said. “We are going to run our system. We are going to do what is best and fits the quarterback’s ability.”

Chatman said he is not in favor of a two-quarterback system, much like the one they ran a few years ago. He wants to pick a starter and stick with him through the season. The coach did say that all three could be on the field at the same time, or a combination of two might see the field together.

Chatman said the goal is to utilize all the talent on the team to make another run at playing for a state title.

“Each of them bring a good skill set to the table,” Chatman said. “We want to use all our resources.”

Whoever wins the battle, will have big shoes to fill in replacing previous two-year starter Alejandro Bennifield, who is now a freshman at Tennessee-Chattanooga. Bennifield lead the team to consecutive region titles and appearances in the state finals at the Georgia Dome.

Last season, Bennifield passed for 2,587 yards and 30 touchdowns. The Wildcats, who compiled a 13-2 record last season, also graduated all-state running back Travis Custis, who rushed for 2,118 yards and 35 touchdowns. Custis is now a freshman at Georgia Tech and all four of last season’s top receivers got scholarships.

Here is a look at each of the three players battling for the starting spot:

Camaron Hill: The rising senior appeared have had the inside track to the position going into spring drills. He was Bennifield’s backup last season. As the backup, he completed 7 of 9 passes for 100 yards with one interception. From a leadership standpoint, Hill has been one of the most vocal of the group. With his experience in the offense, he seems to know it better than the other competitors.

Khalil Rogers: He did appear in a few games last season on the varsity level. He completed 3 of 4 passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns, but most of his experience came as the Junior Varsity starter. Like Hill, he has a grasp of the offense, but lacks significant varsity experience.

Quintin Neely: He transferred from Atlanta’s Mays High before the start of spring practice. Coming out of spring drills, he appeared to be the starter. However, as the staff increased the playbook, he sort of slipped in grasping the offense. The coaching staff likes his running ability, but the Lovejoy offense tries to utilize the wide receiver talent to balance the offense. “If this was the Wing-T, he would be our guy,” Hughes said.