First test

North Marion quarterback Josh Harvey releases a pass during the Huskies’ scrimmage against Bridgeport.

When times got tough and North Marion needed a quarterback last year, head coach Gerry White called upon Josh Harvey.

A lot wasn’t expected from the then-sophomore.

Harvey’s role was pretty simple in just a few spot appearances. He was to hand the ball off, carry out a fake and drop in an occasional pass.

For the most part, he did just that. In the process, however, Harvey learned what varsity football is all about, and he’s carried that into his junior season as the starter.

“I was real nervous last year, but the games definitely helped,” he said after North Marion finished a scrimmage against Bridgeport Thursday morning at Wayne Jamison Field. “It helped out even today because I wasn’t too nervous for the scrimmage. So hopefully come gameday, I’ll be able to go out and just play football.”

In two starts and five games, Harvey was 3-for-12 for 21 yards and one interception. His only touchdown came on a one-yard run against Elkins.

“Josh played some key games for us last year. We put him under pressure against Buckhannon and against John Marshall,” White said about his only two starts. “Those were games he came in and got us out of a bind. We had to have him. He plugged in and did a nice job for us.”

Harvey didn’t just fill a void when North Marion needed it, though. To White, it was more than that.

“I gained a lot of respect for him during that period,” the coach said.

And that’s why White trusts the junior to be a steadying force in the huddle, on the field and on the sidelines for an undermanned Husky football team.

“We look for more in his ability to make plays in the passing game and ball handling,” White said. “Our quarterback will come around, and I think he’s going to be able to execute. We look for him to be steady this year.”

During North Marion’s first offensive series Thursday, ball handling was a little shaky.

But that’s to be expected in your first and only scrimmage game.

“We needed this bad,” White said. “If we could have scrimmaged last Saturday (against Riverside), I think we would have looked a lot better today. But I’m not totally discouraged. I still saw some good, positive things to build on.”

The Huskies came out in a shotgun formation with a single back and three wide receivers. But the first snap sailed over Harvey’s head.

On the next play, Harvey had his first pass attempt dropped. A few plays later, fullback Erick Hinerman fumbled the ball away after a nice gain, and then another high snap escaped the grasp of Harvey’s hands later in the series.

“It just seemed like everyone was a little nervous at the beginning,” Harvey said. “We just had to work out some things in the beginning, but we have to do that quicker. We can’t be like that in our first game.”

It wasn’t all bad.

After the Huskies worked out some early kinks and shed off some rust, North Marion strung together several positive plays in both the running and passing game.

Harvey was comfortable in his rollout passes and consistently completed passes to Jason Jones and Johnny Rogers.

But Harvey knows there is always room for improvement.

“There’s some little things that still need to be worked on in practice,” Harvey said. “Well, carrying out fakes will help me, too. And I still need to square my shoulders up when I throw so I can release the ball quicker.”

Harvey also is well aware of the fact that when you’re the quarterback, you’re also expected to be a leader.

That’s something he has accepted and is ready to be — if it hasn’t already happened.

“I just have to help everyone else out on the field. Push them. Keep them going,” the 6-1, 155-pounder said. “When they get down, and some of them get down pretty easily, you just have to help them get back up.

“That’s a big part of my job. Encourage the younger guys; don’t discourage them.”

Notes: Jones and Rogers also provided quite a defensive punch, especially early. Jones delivered a few big hits, while Rogers came off the edge for two sacks. ... Corey Straight had plenty of leg as he split the uprights for a 39-yard field goal — the Huskies’ only points. ... Bridgeport scored four touchdowns against North Marion’s first unit after being shut down in its first series. ... This was the Indians’ second scrimmage with their first coming against Buckhannon. ... Head coach Bruce Carey’s biggest concern is the team’s numbers. “We only have 41 on our team. So our depth is a big problem in Class AAA.” ... North Marion’s player totals stand at 16 without the freshmen and 34 with the newcomers. “That’s about as thin as you can get,” White said.

E-mail Andrew Manzo at dmanzo@timeswv.com.

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