In just three short weeks, the Bremen High School football team will be staring face-to-face with reigning Class AA state runner-up Rabun County in one of the season-opening Erk Russell Classic contests at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro.
When the Blue Devils bring their busload down to the campus of Georgia Southern to open the 2018 campaign, they will be fortunate to have a trusted veteran gun-slinger running the show on offense.
Starting quarterback Wade Cartwright is entering his senior year as the signal-caller for BHS and is looking forward to having his best season yet.
“I’m real excited to have one last ride here at Bremen,” Cartwright said after practice on Friday. “It’s going to be fun.”
Relying on Cartwright to be his go-to QB during his entire tenure at Bremen, head coach Davis Russell has tracked how the Blue and White field general has progressed up until this point.
“He’s a three-year starter and has done nothing but improved. His throwing motion is compact and smooth as it’s ever been. I think he’s lost about 17 pounds and ran a 4.60 40 the other night. If you knew him a few years ago, that’s a huge improvement for him,” Russell said. “He’s such a good kid that loves football. There’s nobody else that you would rather have lead than Wade. I’m just so proud of him for how better he’s gotten every single year and that’s because of the work he’s done every single day.”
Throwing for over 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns while helping guide the Blue Devils to a 9-2 overall record last fall, Cartwright talked about some of the areas he’s felt he has made strides since then.
“I think that I’m a lot more accurate and I think that everyone here has gotten better as a team,” Cartwright said. “We’ve gotten our timing down really well and we’ve played a lot of good competition, so that’s helped out a lot.”
His head coach shared a story from the summer that illustrated both the command of the offense that he’s garnered and the rapport that he’s developed with his teammates.
“We’re able to put so much of the offense in his hands. We call a play at a 7-on-7 at Samford and he looks out and signals to a receiver. I said, ‘Coach (Drew) Willis, what is that signal?’ And he responds, ‘I don’t know.' And Wade throws a touchdown pass,” Russell said. “He’s taken ownership of this offense over the past few years, so we’re able to cut things loose. We (coaches) have to be sharp because if we call a play out of the wrong formation, Wade will call us on it. That’s how much he’s mastered the offense.”
Part of that mastery of the scheme comes down to communication, a trait made easier when you’ve been playing with the same guys for your entire prep career.
“Our communication is extremely good because we’ve been together for the last four years,” Cartwright said. “It’s really easy to go out and communicate with each other without actually talking. Doing things like signaling each other plays is a lot easier.”
Russell also described how the heavy senior presence on offense will benefit Wade and the entire team.
“These kids have grown up playing together. You can see how much they mesh as a team with him as the leader,” Russell said. “The scheme at this point is second nature for him. Now everything is little details and little things. That’s what we’re focused on this year.”
The drop down from Class AAA to AA didn’t change the level of expectations for Cartwright or his teammates.
When talking about what goals the team wants to accomplish this fall, Cartwright was clear-cut about the outlook for 2018.
“Win region and do better than we did last year,” Cartwright said. “It’s going to be a tough region, but it should be fun.”