Athlete of the Week: Dyer grows into QB role for Falcons

Zeb Dyer Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Central High School head football coach Mike Yew eased quarterback Zeb Dyer into the starting role as a sophomore in 2016 – “spoon-fed” him, as Yew put it on Wednesday afternoon.

A year later, Dyer has taken the next step for the Falcons in football’s most scrutinized position.

“He has responded,” Yew said of his junior quarterback. “He’s gotten himself into great shape. He’s busted his tail in the weight room. There’s no question he’s our leader on the team as far as just lining up, here every day, expectations are clear, run the offense, do what’s expected of him. Plain and simple.”

In last Friday’s 48-0 drubbing of Manassas Park on the road, Dyer orchestrated the Falcons’ offense en route to Central’s third straight lopsided win to start the 2017 season.

Against the winless Panthers, Dyer completed 5 of 8 passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns, posting an average of 23.8 yards per completion. He’s The Northern Virginia Daily’s Athlete of the Week for Sept. 4-10.

“Everything was going right,” Dyer said. “Our linemen were blocking good up front and our receivers went up and made some good grabs. Everything was just going our way.”

Each of Dyer’s touchdown passes and all five of his completions went to three different receivers. Kyle Clanton hauled in a 45-yard touchdown grab, Varsey Bright had two receptions for 34 yards and a TD, and Christian Spitler had two catches for 40 yards and a score.

“He has some weapons but he executed the reads well,” Yew said. “He did his job. He allowed for things to come open. He took what was there. You’ll hear me on the sideline, one of the last things I say every pass play is ‘us or nobody.’ And that’s the rule we live by, is that if we’re not open and we don’t catch it, nobody catches it. He’s done a really good job embracing that thought process.”

In his first season as a varsity starter last year, Dyer completed 63 of 115 passes (54.8 percent) for 1,048 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions, and was able to grow into the role at his own pace behind a steadily productive running game.

Entering year 2 as the Falcons’ QB, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Dyer said he aimed to improve on his decision-making and his reads while becoming a more accurate passer.

Dyer hasn’t had many chances to show that improved accuracy – yet, Yew emphasized on Wednesday – but he’s been efficient when asked to throw the ball in an offense that is averaging over 230 yards rushing through the first three weeks. The left-hander has completed 15 of his 20 passes for 285 yards and five touchdowns.

“I feel like it’s getting better,” Dyer said of his accuracy. “I feel like I’ve improved where I wanted to where I wanted to so far, just need to keep working.”

Central’s heavy emphasis on the running game continues to keep a lot of the burden off Dyer’s left arm, and keeps opposing defenses focused on the Falcons’ ground game, which opens up play-action, Dyer said.

The quarterback’s effectiveness is further bolstered by a pair of electric players on the perimeter in Clanton and Bright, two speedsters who have already made a handful of big plays for Central on offense and on special teams.

Clanton has six receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns this season, while Bright has five catches for 108 yards and a TD. They are averaging 17.5 and 21.6 yards per reception, respectively.

“It’s good because I know any time it’s a pass I can just look their way and they’re gonna be there,” Dyer said. “They can burn the corners and if it’s a bad ball they can go up and make the catch.”

Dyer and the Falcons return to action Friday night at home against Park View (Sterling), a team that has surrendered at least 57 points in each of its first three games this season.