By TONY EIERDAM
Last year at this time, the Mineral Wells Rams were ready to begin the season with senior quarterback Dan Reay Turk at the helm of the offense.
But toward the end of August workouts Turk was injured, and with little time to prepare sophomore signal caller Caleb Acosta was sent behind center and remained there for the entire 2012 season.
Acosta had a good year as he made the All-District 6-3A first team at quarterback.
For the 10-game season, Acosta threw for 1,039 yards, including 466 yards and four touchdowns in five district games.
But unlike last year, this year Acosta, knowing he will be the starting QB, has worked hard in the offseason and summer. On nearly every night in the summer Acosta was throwing passes to his receivers and backs.
With one full season, spring football and summer workouts under Acosta’s belt, Rams offensive coordinator David Tarver said Acosta will be able to progress at a faster clip this season.
“It is big and it will help our progress that we have Caleb at quarterback with an entire year of experience under his belt,” Tarver said. “Caleb took some big strides this spring, and he started to understand the offense even more than he did as he progressed throughout the year last season.
“His decision making improved each game last year.”
The unexpected full season of playing and eight months of off-season work has helped Acosta fully understand the playbook and offensive philosophies.
“In conversations between us he now tells me what he is expecting, what he is looking for and what he is going to do,” Tarver said. “That’s a positive step, and it gives me a lot confidence in him.”
Tarver said Acosta has acquired another special quality over the last 12 months.
“The biggest thing about Caleb, with his year of experience and talent – everyone knows he has a great arm – is also a great leader,” Tarver said.
“Even as a sophomore newcomer to varsity he took control of the huddle.
“He has that in him and stepped in the huddle and displayed it.
“That was impressive that he, as a sophomore, looked in that huddle of mainly seniors and took charge.”
Acosta is also proving to be a good leader by example as shown by the work he has put in during the offseason.
“He has been at the stadium almost every day in the summer working out and throwing passes to his receivers, and that alone shows great leadership,” Tarver said. “When he needs to be, he is not only a motivator, but a disciplinarian as well.
“If the guys are doing something wrong or not hustling or concentrating, he lets them know.
“And when he does something wrong he takes full responsibility.
“You can’t ask much more form a leader than that.”
Acosta’s year of experience behind center will also give Rams’ coaches a chance to open up the playbook and add more plays to the offense.
“Without a doubt I can throw more on Caleb’s plate,” Tarver said. “As we started adding things in the spring, because he is familiar with the offense, we can tie new things into already existing schemes and Caleb picks it up right away and does a great job with it.”
The Rams’ season opener will be Friday, Aug. 30, at home against state-ranked No. 9 Graham. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.