Woodson QB Joe Pesansky (Photo: Andy Hilton/recruitNoVA)
Woodson QB Joe Pesansky could be the next big name signal caller to emerge
by Jim McGrath, recruitNoVA
Last fall, W.T. Woodson enjoyed a renaissance season, one in which it won its first playoff game since 2009, and ended with a berth for the 6C region championship.
Good news for the Cavaliers. One of the catalysts behind the remarkable turnaround will be back behind center for two more seasons.
At this time last year, Joe Pesansky’s ascent to becoming the offensive leader of the WTW offense had not begun yet. Senior Jack Fisher was in place as the Cav signal caller, and Pesansky, then a sophomore, looked as if he would have to wait his turn.
Then fate interfered.
“Originally, Jack was supposed to start the season, but on Wednesday, two days before the South Lakes game, we found out that Jack had mono (mononucleosis).”
Thrust into action, Pesansky led Woodson to wins in their first two games. However, Fisher recovered from his illness and was given the nod to start in Week 3.
“I got some minutes late in the games when we were up,” said Pesansky, who mostly watched while Fisher and the Cavaliers added four more wins to their total.
Although they were 6-0, it became obvious that there was trouble.
“Jack, who had been playing well up until that point, really struggled against South County (an 18-7 win in Week 5), and the first three quarters against Lake Braddock.”
At that point in the Lake Braddock game, Woodson coach Jared Van Acker decided to make one more switch, and it almost paid off immediately.
“I played the fourth quarter of the Braddock game and put up nine points, to bring us back into the game,” said Pesansky.
Although Woodson lost 18-12, it was apparent that the quarterback situation wasn’t settled. For the next few weeks, both Fisher and Pesansky would alternate, fueling a rivalry worthy of comparisons to the Sonny Jurgensen vs. Billy Kilmer Redskin quarterback debates of the early 1970’s.
Yet, as the playoffs loomed, a final choice would have to be made. And as the first playoff game against Robinson neared, Pesansky earned the nod. “The coaches decided I should have the job.”
With a 9-1 record and potential first playoff win in nine years on the line, one might think that there would be additional pressure. Not so, said Pesansky.
“I had watched a lot of film and was just ready to go compete and do what I do best. I knew it would be key for us to get our passing game going (in order) to exploit (Robinson’s) secondary.”
The feeling changed for a few minutes after kickoff.
“When I stepped on the field I felt the nerves coming to me. However, once I made that first completion, I was in the zone and came up with my best game of the season. The receivers stepped up big time and made huge plays when we needed them, and the run game was huge.”
Woodson beat Robinson 29-14, and followed up in the second round by defeating South County for a second time – 20-10.
This led to a classic region final, one which was not decided until the final play when Freedom’s Quest Powell found Umari Hatcher speeding down the left sideline for a diving 36-yard, game-clinching pass touchdown, which gave the Eagles a 21-16 win.
Although the season ended abruptly for Van Acker’s troops, his quarterback looks back at the positive aspects.
“I knew this was a huge first step for our program. I was so excited for the team, and especially the seniors (31 in total) who worked really hard to get to that point.”
Although those seniors, such as Joey Dobrydney, Jonathan Siles, and Isaiah Barnes have now graduated, the Cavaliers are still working with a full contingent of talented players.
“We are losing all our starting receivers and running backs which will hurt, but I think we have some guys who will step up into these roles,” said Pesansky. “James Jin (5-8, 175, Sr./SB) will be a big part of our offense, as well as Noah Roh (5-11, 185, Sr.) and Griffin Major (5-7, 150, Sr.) at the receiver spots. Then we have Jacob Perdue (6-1, 195, Jr./TE), who was a fullback last season, who will step up into a big role this year, as well as Nicho Zamora, who has shown promise out of the backfield through Green Days and 7-on-7.”
Working in coordination with offensive coordinator Greg Quigley, Pesansky is altering the Woodson game plan.
“We are working on more misdirection and run/pass option plays to get the linebackers flowing one way, and going another,” said last season’s second team All-Patriot District QB. “Since I’m coming back with more experience, we are putting in more advanced stuff, especially since our receivers are very smart and pick up the playbook quickly.”
“He has good size (6-3, 190) for a quarterback, said Quigley. “He’s legit – makes all the throws and he should be picking up offers soon.”
And with the intensity of his pre-game preparation, Pesansky is getting ready to show his skills to coaches at the next level.
“I have really been getting my name and film out there for people to see. I’ve been to a handful of prospect camps and have been competing, doing my best just to see where I stand amongst the field.”
At the Falls Church 7-on-7 Passing League two weeks ago, Pesansky led the Cavs to a final four (out of 24 teams) finish.
“I believe when I go out there and throw the ball the way I know I can throw it, I can compete with almost anybody.”
So far, the interest has been touch-and-go, but with two full seasons left to play, Pesansky knows there is time to perform.
“Some schools have expressed interest and are following me. I just hope to prove myself to (college coaches) with a strong junior season.”
If the Cavaliers equal last season’s 11-2 mark and make another region final, the offers should come fast and furiously. Even if they don’t, expect the QB from Fairfax to be at the top of many college offer lists next spring.
– Jim McGrath