Sophomore quarterback Chase Pinder settled down quickly, decisively tucking the ball in under pressure and rolling out for a 29-yard gain. The pickup was the key play in the go-ahead touchdown drive of the Islanders' 32-15 season-opening win at Southampton.
"We weren't putting a lot on Chase's shoulders in the first game," Duty said. "We asked him to run the offense and not make any mistakes.
"He did that."
Coaches at six other Bay Rivers District schools also debut new starting quarterbacks this season. Like Duty, most will ask little more at first than for their signal callers to start the offense and get the ball to the running backs without making mistakes.
That said, to a man district coaches have confidence in their new QBs, and some see the potential for big things ahead. None more so than Smithfield coach Tyris Hill, who tabbed senior Corey Williams to replace Morgan State recruit James Wrenn.
"One of my assistants said he thinks Corey will be better than James," Hill said. "If that happens we should do pretty well.
"With Corey it was just a matter of my working more with him to get a grasp of the offense. He's got the strength and the talent to help this team."
Robbie Hiser already was helping Grafton plenty, as a star middle linebacker whose 90 tackles in 2010 are tops among returners. He was expected to split time under center with Lane Deaver, but when Deaver opted to concentrate on baseball, Hiser became the man.
With a larger two-way role than perhaps any of the other new quarterbacks, Hiser will take more hits than most other Clippers. Grafton coach Jared Van Acker isn't concerned about Hiser, a senior captain considered one of the toughest and most savvy Clippers.
"As I've said before, Robbie is a hard-nosed kid who's smart enough not to take unnecessary hits," Van Acker said.
Three of the new district quarterbacks emerged as starters after winning the job in preseason practice. Bruton sophomore Bilal Wallace continued to shine in the Panthers' 28-0 season-opening win at Greensville County, throwing two 15-yard touchdown passes: one to Scott Frazier, the guy he beat out for the starting QB spot.
The new starters at Jamestown (junior Landon Morrow) and at New Kent (sophomore Luke Mechling) fall into that category — they'll be asked mostly to hand the ball off because of the rushing talent on their teams. They are, however, more than just guys who take the snap from center.
"I think Landon throws a pretty good ball," Jamestown coach Ryan Turnage said. "He's got some little things to correct, but I've got all the confidence in the world in him."
New Kent coach Dan Rounds said, "Luke has emerged as a leader. When we were off (because of Hurricane Irene) he wanted to get everyone together for practice at a park."
The battle for starting QB at Warhill continues and might be settled until well after the Lions' Sept. 9 opener. There's no such uncertainty at Tabb or Lafayette, where starters return, or at York, where the quarterback enters his third season as the starter.
"I think having a quarterback in his fourth year on the varsity puts us at a huge advantage," Pereira said of Alex Johnston, who threw for more than a 1,000 yards the past two seasons. "Especially because it's Alex."