It's been quite awhile since Portage Area High School has had a strong running threat at the quarterback position. That should change this fall, as senior Evan Price steps under center.
Last year, as a starting running back, Price rushed for 395 yards on 59 carries - a 6.7 average - and four touchdowns.
"We haven't had a running quarterback in at least 10 years, but this year, having [Price] there will be like having four running backs in our backfield,'' veteran Portage coach Gary Gouse said. "[Opposing] defenses will have to account for the quarterback [as a run threat] this year.''
Gouse is looking forward to having the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Price as the Mustangs' field general this fall.
"He's very intelligent, very savvy, and very smart, and his having played in the backfield is a plus for us,'' Gouse said. "Sometimes, as a coach, you can tell players how to do things, but it's nice not to have to tell players how to do something. If you have a quarterback like him who can both run and throw, it puts defenses in a bind. I think that's going to be an added flavor for us.''
Price is looking forward to bringing the running aspect to the quarterback position.
"I started for two years as a running back, and I enjoy running the football a lot,'' Price said. "I'll be looking to pass the ball, but if there's any doubt in my mind about throwing the ball, I'm going to run with it.''
Price, who is also a veteran member of Portage's baseball program, is moving to safety on the defensive side of the ball this year. He played at cornerback two years ago as a sophomore, and last year, he started at outside linebacker.
"We all learn all the positions, so if somebody on the team gets hurt, everybody can adjust,'' Price said.
Gouse believes that Price will be an asset in the secondary.
"He'll probably be a free safety,'' Gouse said. "His tackling skills will really help back there, plus he plays the ball really well.''
Gouse is looking for big things on both sides of the line of scrimmage from Price, who hopes to lead Portage back to the District 6-A playoffs this year. Last year, the Mustangs finished 4-5 and missed out on postseason play.
"He's worked very hard the entire offseason,'' Gouse said of Price. "I think he'll do a good job at quarterback. I think he's excited about playing there, and I'm excited for him.''