Liberty quarterback Austin Bode and Westminster’s Duke Etchison look forward to showing 70,000 people that they can do more than throw a long pass when Sunday's Ravens' high school Quarterback Challenge takes on a new look.
At halftime of the Ravens-Packers game at M&T Bank Stadium, the Carroll County quarterbacks will be tested for accuracy more than distance. They will aim for drop-in nets set at the 15-yard line, the 30 and the 45. Bode and Etchison get three tosses each and they can throw into any net they’d like. Whoever accumulates the most points – 15 for hitting the 15-yard net, 30 for the 30 and 45 for the 45 – wins.
At the Ravens’ previous two home games, whichever quarterback completed the longest pass won the Challenge, but this week, the long toss will be used only as a tiebreaker. For the next few days, Bode and Etchison will practice to hit their spots.
Both have been to Ravens' games and seen previous QB Challenges, but they don’t mind the change to the accuracy test.
“I like it,” Etchison, a senior, said. “It switches it up and it gives you something to think about, whether you’re going to go deep (for) all three or try and balance it out. I like throwing a deep ball, so I might take a chance and sling them all down there.”
Bode also likes the change, but isn’t sure of his approach.
“I think it should be fun,” the Lions junior said. “I think I’m an accurate quarterback. I’m going to think about [the distances] and get some practice in before I decide.”
Either way, the combination of accuracy and distance is necessary to win, just as it's vital in an actual game.
"You've got to put the ball where the receiver is and give him a chance to make a play," Bode said.
Bode and Etchison have both played quarterback since they started football. Bode also spent time at running back in his first year of football, eighth grade, but has played only quarterback in high school. Etchison was a quarterback as a little guy but switched to soccer for six years before returning to football at 12.
Both are pocket passers who aren't afraid to run and both like being team leaders on the field. They admire NFL quarterbacks who show the skills they aspire to.
“I love Joe Flacco,” said Etchison, who went to both Ravens Super Bowl championship games. “I hate it when people say they don’t like Flacco. I love everything about him. His demeanor’s great. He never gets too excited or too down on himself. Even when everyone’s down on him, he comes out and plays well.”
Bode likes Flacco, too, but has a different favorite.
“Peyton Manning. How can you not like him? He’s just tearing it up right now,” Bode said.
Before they square off in front of the M&T crowd, they'll play in front of a smaller but no less rowdy fan base Friday night when Etchison’s Owls travel to Liberty for a Carroll County league game.
Both said the dual-action weekend makes it more fun for the players and the fans.
"If you lose one, you come back and get the second one or you try to go for the sweep," Etchison said. "It'll be a great opportunity just to be out there at a great Ravens game. I know a lot of guys from Liberty, so it'll be fun going against a local guy like Austin rather than just some random guy."
This fall, the QB Challenge will switch the format every two weeks, with next week's contestants competing in the accuracy test before it reverts back to the long toss for two weeks. The final two weeks will use the accuracy test.