PALMYRA - The changes for the Southeast Pirates seem to be never ending as their third coach in as many years takes over. This season, the offense will be completely opened up and spread out, contrary to last year's philosophy. However, one thing that hasn't changed is the dynamic playmaking and leadership ability of senior Kade Norquest.
Norquest is the tallest player on the Pirates' roster listed at 6-feet, 5-inches and the go to target on offense at the tight end position. Last season, he was a passing threat, but he said he is expecting more opportunities to catch passes and gain yards this season, due to enhanced utilization under the new offense. Last season, formations were tight and Norquest was used as a more traditional tight end. This year, he is pushing himself to adapt and succeed in his new role.
"Last year and the year before I never took my hand out of the dirt, and this year I never have my hand in the dirt," Norquest said. "So learning my position is a goal and being dominant at that position. It's not enough to learn it and know what I'm doing, I want to be dominant at it."
The Pirates finished 5-5 in 2013 and are hungry for a winning season. If they want to make the jump to the postseason, they will have to play better against winning teams. Last season, they were outscored 115-36 in the three games against teams that finished with winning records. Thus, Norquest will have to be a force not only at tight end, but at defensive end as well.
"Our biggest strength is our toughness," Norquest said. "We might not have the biggest kids, or the strongest, but we always have the toughest. We're just scrappers. Half of our linemen are half the size as me, but they'll kick these 'six-six' guys' butts all day."
Another strength for Norquest is his ability to lead. With a different offensive scheme under the new coaching staff, Norquest will be leaned on more than ever. First year coach Pat Youle knows the transition will be difficult, but he believes Norquest is the quintessential individual for the task at hand.
"He's one of the highest character kids I've ever coached," Youle said. "When I took over here, one of the very first things we did was vote for captains. The votes for captains thus far have all been very close, but the first time we voted for captain it was a landslide, (Norquest) won by 20 votes. So I think that speaks to his character and what his teammates think of him as leader. He just personifies what we want in the program, which is 'one team, one vision.' "
The Pirates have never had a home playoff game in school history, and that is what Norquest mentioned as being his number-one goal for the season.
"I don't want to be so much a vocal leader, but a leader that leads by example," Norquest said. "Any teammate that has a problem, I want them to believe they can come to me, and on the field, I want to lead by example as well. I want to get people pumped. I expect our team to do well this year. We have a lot of returning starters, so I'm excited."