Last week I looked at the best running backs in my 42-year stat-keeping career and the choices weren’t that difficult. Well in this column I will try to pick out the best quarterbacks, and after some research and serious consideration let me tell you that it was a very tough decision. But I did it and here they are.
The way I figure it, I have seen 19-20 starting quarterbacks in this 42-year period and I will mention only eight. At the end I will choose a #1. Oh my!
I was just gonna pick seven but I just couldn’t separate two QBs, both of which I really like.
Mike Allen was the quarterback at R.E. Lee from 1981-83. He led the Rebels to a three-year record of 30-5, which included a region championship in 1981. His 2,223 passing yards are the 3rd most in Lee history and his 31 career touchdown passes are 3rd in Lee history. He completed 59 percent of his passes in 1982, which is a single-season record for the Rebels. Allen was a quality quarterback who relied mostly on the pass, but who could run if needed. He was a two-time All-State honorable-mention choice.
The QB that I matched up with Allen was Upson-Lee’s Laquentin Lamar, who started for the Knights from 2005-07. Lamar had 2,332 career passing yards, which is now 2nd in UL annals and his 132 completions is also 2nd in the Upson-Lee record book. Lamar had excellent speed and was an excellent runner who could turn a bad play or a botched pass play into a big gain.
The present quarterback at Upson-Lee is Kalen Puckett and the junior signal-caller is rewriting the Knights’ record book every game. His 2,604 career passing yards and 173 career completions are both UL records. Puckett can run when needed and his passing accuracy has improved from year-to-year.
Willie Kendall led R.E. Lee to a 12-2 record and a region title in the last year of football for the Rebels in 1991 and then moved on to lead Upson-Lee to an 11-2 record and a region championship in 1993. Kendall still ranks high on most passing lists at Upson-Lee and his bullish touchdown run that gave the Knights a win over Colquitt County in the 1993 state playoffs is still remembered as one of the greatest moments in Matthews Field history.
Chris Teal was the starting quarterback at R.E. Lee from 1984-86 and led the Rebels to a region title in 1986. His 1,153 passing yards and 16 touchdown passes in 1986 are both Lee records. Teal was a quality passer, who could produce as a runner as well. His 42-yard TD pass to David Gilbert that gave the Rebels a victory over Upson High in 1986 is also one of the great plays in Matthews Field annals. He was a first team All-State performer in 1986.
The Rebels’ starting quarterback in 1979-80 was John Pruett. Pruett was a first team All-State performer in 1980 and he was a top-notch passer and runner. One of the highlights of Pruett’s career was leading Lee to a 22-21 overtime win over Upson High in the first meeting between the schools in 1980. Pruett led the Rebels back from a 21-7 deficit with two touchdown drives in the last five minutes of regulation to force overtime.
Douglas Stanley left his place in the Lee secondary to become their starting quarterback in 1987 and 1988. His success was evident as he led the Rebels to a 29-1 record and appearances in two state championship games. In 1988 Lee won the State AA title and Stanley was named All-State and was also selected as the State AA Offensive Player-of-the-Year. He ran the Rebel veer offense with perfection and his passing ability was far better than he received credit for.
The last of my eight choices is Upson-Lee’s Corey Moss, who led the Knights in 2011-12. Moss’ main contributions came as a runner, as is exhibited by his UL record 39 rushing attempts against Jones County in 2012 and his Knight’s season record 238 rushing attempts in 2011. He was a tough and durable runner, even though he was not physically imposing.
OK, that’s my Top Eight. Sorry that I had to leave out a few very capable quarterbacks, but that’s the way it is.
Oh, you’re waiting for my #1? Well, after careful consideration I have determined that Douglas Stanley is the best I’ve seen. He was an outstanding leader, a speedy and elusive runner, and a better than average passer. He was unselfish, very coachable, and the kind of kid you wanted running your offensive football team. You don’t go 29-1 and win a state title with mirrors!
Jim Fowler is a sports columnist and retired teacher and coach who worked in the local school system for many years. He is a founding board member of the Thomaston-Upson Sports Hall of Fame and is also the statistician for the Upson Lee football team, and has written a book about the history of football at R. E. Lee High School.