August 25, 2009 12:30:00 PM
CARROLTON, Ala. -- Jacob Acker doesn''t have a preference.
He doesn''t even have to have the ball in his hands.
When you''re running an offense that is as much fun as the spread option, the points just have a way of piling up on the scoreboard.
It also helps to have a versatile array of players.
Jacob Acker showcased his versatility Friday night in a big way for the Pickens Academy football team.
Acker ran for a touchdown, threw for three, and caught another Friday in the Pirates'' 56-36 victory against The Heritage School (Newnan, Ga.).
The junior quarterback was 9 of 14 for 170 yards and rushed for 167 yards on 17 carries. He also ran for a two-point conversion and threw for conversions to help first-year coach Sam Pearson get off to a winning start.
For his efforts, Acker is The Commercial Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
The 6-foot-1, 165-pounder is sharing the quarterback duties with senior Kirk Lewis. He said has enjoyed learning Pearson''s system because there are so many ways for an offense to beat a defense.
"I didn''t even plan to play quarterback that much, but it started working and we stuck with it," Acker said. "Just about every team we are going to play is going to key on Kirk, so it is going to make it a lot easier for me to find holes and run."
Whether it is running or passing, Acker knows efforts like his Friday night might make him more of a household name. But he was quick to credit receivers Michael Potts and Casey Jones for making good catches to help bail him out on throws that he didn''t like.
"I didn''t play football last year, so I am a little rusty," Acker said. "I have to get used to throwing. If I make my decisions fast enough I will be all right."
Pearson said the quarterback in his offense needs to be a heady, versatile player, and Acker fits that bill. He also is a point guard on the school''s boys basketball team.
Still, even though The Heritage School knew about Lewis and tried to stop him, he was surprised Acker was able to do so many things so well in the opener.
"When they''re both on the field at the same time, it presents a lot of different opportunities and the other night everything seemed to be working well," said Pearson, who came to the school from Hebron Christian in Pheba, Miss. "They were keying so much on Kirk that when we moved (Lewis) to running back everything just fed off that play-action pass and the option. It just opened up things.
"Jacob did a real good job of reading what the defense presented, and nine times out of 10 he hurt them with his read."
Pearson said Acker''s intelligence has helped him soak up the offense. Acker didn''t play football last year. He transferred from Pickens Academy to Gordo High but learned he would have to sit out a year, so he transferred back to Pickens Academy in time to play for the boys basketball team.
Pearson''s arrival and his decision to introduce the spread option offense that he used at Hebron Christian has suited the Pirates'' needs.
Pearson said Lewis, a senior, and Acker will split time at quarterback this season because they are both versatile players.
When either one is at quarterback, they also will have the luxury of having a host of options to choose from, including senior wide receivers Michael Potts, Casey Jones, and Tyler Vails. Junior tight end Justin Smith also is a weapon in the attack.
"Every defense is taking away something and giving something, and if you have people taking the snap who can figure out those things, then you have an advantage," Pearson said.
Pearson believes Acker will continue to improve n his ability to read defenses. He knows Acker will get physically stronger, which could help the team in the future.
For now, though, Pearson likes how quickly Acker and the Pirates have taken to the system.
"I hope people do key on taking the passing game away because it is going to hurt them against our run," Pearson said. "We were pretty balanced just on him, and we were pretty balanced as a team, and that keeps the defense off balance.
"I feel very confident that with the people that we have that we will be able to take advantage."
Acker feels good to be back at Pickens Academy. He said most of his friends are at Pickens Academy, and he is anxious to help the Pirates realize the goals this season.
"We made a lot of mistakes Friday, so if we take away some of those we will become a lot better as a team," Acker said.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.