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Fire starter: West Branch QB Dru DeShields leading Warriors during hot start

BELOIT — The West Branch football team is off to another hot start this season, this time with a new quarterback under center lighting up the stat sheet.

Junior Dru DeShields has stepped into the new role after playing as a wide receiver last season and has shined through four games. The Warriors are 4-0 and were ranked fifth in Division IV heading into this week.

DeShields has been a large part of that success, tallying 915 passing yards with 15 touchdowns while adding on four scores on the ground.

“It’s been really good, we’ve got off to a good start,” the 6-foot-3 quarterback said. “We’ve just got to keep it rolling against Canton South.”

One conversation with DeShields will show that he has no shortage of confidence, but he’s not one to brag. That’s where his coach, Ken Harris, comes in. Harris mentioned that his quarterback is very multidimensional, which makes it hard for defenses to plan around.

“He’s pretty confident and he works hard and he’s a really good athlete and a good kid,” Harris said. “He’s a good kid to be around, so the kids enjoy him and he brings out a dimension that I think for most defenses is probably pretty hard to defend against.

“If you bring the heat and blitz then he’s able to make you pay for that by getting on the edge. It takes the blitz away and how do you prepare for a quarterback that can break contain and run and throw? So, that kind of puts the defense in a little bit of a bind.”

Being so tough to defend against has made DeShields ruthlessly efficient as a passer. In the month of September so far, DeShields has only thrown six incomplete passes on 45 attempts and is averaging around 13 yards per completion this season.

To add onto that, DeShields, who says he’s tried to model his game after Patrick Mahomes, hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 1 against East Liverpool. In fact, DeShields has more interceptions as a cornerback, with two so far this year.

According to Harris, one of DeShields’ best abilities is his versatility. DeShields, who is a two-year starter in basketball and is in his second year starting on the gridiron, is getting more dangerous offensively.

“He was in on defense until the third quarter last week,” Harris said. “He’s a starting corner for us and he’s a real good corner, but versatility-wise offensively, we run a lot of read option stuff, and he’s able to make the reads and we have some RPO stuff and he’s able to make the reads on the pass options as well.”

DeShields has been working on getting his name out there, reaching out to college coaches. While nowhere near a commitment, DeShields is just excited to keep working toward the next level.

When asked about what drives him to keep striving to keep improving, DeShields kept it simple and got right to the point.

“I just love playing football,” he said. “I enjoy it. I’d rather be out playing football than sitting at home doing nothing. I think it’s just fun playing with your team, and just having fun with a good group of guys.”

Harris hopes to see his quarterback keep developing. Like most coaches, Harris preaches improvement and with how quickly DeShields is taking to his new role, there may not be a better example of the West Branch mantra.

“I hope that there’s a lot of schools starting to take a look,” Harris said. “He’s got all the tools. One of the things we try to do with the guys here is we always talk about getting better. He’s been doing that week in and week out. As long as he does that, I don’t know what the ceiling is.”

The Warriors look to keep the success going tonight on the road against Eastern Buckeye Conference rival Canton South. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. against the Wildcats.

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