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McKenna, Rhea battling to be Helias' starting QB

McKenna, Rhea battling to be Helias' starting QB

August 13th, 2017 by Tom Rackers in Sports
Helias quarterback Daniel Rhea breaks away from a Centralia defender on a touchdown run Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 during the Jamboree at the Falcon Athletic Complex in Wardsville.

Helias quarterback Daniel Rhea breaks away from a...

Photo by Marty Beck/News Tribune

WARDSVILLE, Mo. — Connor McKenna and Daniel Rhea are doing all they can to make the decision as difficult as possible.

McKenna and Rhea are battling to be the starting quarterback for the Helias Crusaders this season. Through the start of practice and continuing through Friday night's Jamboree, they have pushed each other in the bid to be under center at the start of the regular season.

"It's made both of us work harder," McKenna said.

"We're both competing and we have to continue to do that," Rhea said.

The final decision rests with Helias coach Tim Rulo.

"It would be nice if one of them would take it and run with it," he said. "What we've seen is both of them will do a lot of good things in spurts, but it's about consistency. And when we see that, it will help make the decision."

The duo had their strong points in Friday night's Jamboree at the Falcon Athletic Complex.

Rhea had touchdown runs of 32 and 38 yards to account for Helias' scoring output in the Jamboree.

"Obviously, he's a shifty runner, you saw that tonight when he broke those long runs," McKenna said. "I don't really have that ability."

On the other side, McKenna is the better passer of the two.

"His arm, he has a cannon and can make all the throws," Rhea said.

Rulo didn't see one jump ahead of the other in the Jamboree.

"Daniel had some good runs, we just need to make sure he does a better job of taking care of the football," he said. "Connor did a good job in our run game a lot of the time, he made the right decisions. In the pass game, I'm sure there are a couple of throws he'd like to have back.

"But they're understanding the offense, getting better at running it."

Rulo stressed there's more to being the position than understanding the offense.

"There's nothing quite like being the starting quarterback," he said. "There aren't many positions in high school sports as stressful as playing that position.

"Everybody thinks it's just a matter of remembering the plays, do this in this situation, do that. But there are a lot of grown men out there trying to stop you, trying to take your head off."

Rulo said the team will need both McKenna and Rhea to play at times this season.

"There's a lot of room for growth in both of them and now it's up to me as a coach to continue to work with them and get that improvement from them not only for the Hannibal game but for the entire season," Rulo said. "We're going to need for both of them to get better and better and I'm sure they both will do that."

As for now, McKenna and Rhea are waiting to hear which of them will get to start.

"We're just working every day at practice and when the day comes they decide to tell us, that's when we'll know," McKenna said.

Helias will open the season Friday night at home against the Hannibal Pirates. Game time is 7 p.m. at Ray Hentges Stadium.