D’Andre Weaver II reflects on superb sophomore season


Transferring to a new high school this year, D’Andre Weaver II entered Oak Ridge in Orlando, Fla., as the third-string quarterback. Considering he was new and an underclassman, his position on the depth chart was understandable.
That didn’t mean Weaver was satisfied with the backup status. “In order to move up, I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work and dedication,” he said. “And I had to get to know the offense because I was a transfer.”
Weaver made his move before the Pioneers played their first game of the season. At the USF Sling & Shoot 7-on-7 Tournament held in late July, the talented left-hander took over as the top QB and led Oak Ridge to an impressive third-place finish in a field of 52 teams.
“I knew I had to make a good impression because it’s a new school and a new start,” Weaver said. “In the the 7-on-7s, I did pretty well and kind of beat out our first-string quarterback. I was really surprised when I started practicing with the ones and wound up as the starting quarterback, but that’s when everything started to gel.”

District champs

With Weaver at quarterback for Pioneers Head Coach Elijah Williams, who played for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL and the University of Florida in college, Oak Ridge went 9-2 overall and captured its first district title in 37 years.
Weaver, a 5-foot-7, 145-pounder, put up incredible numbers as a sophomore. He passed for 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Equally good, Weaver threw just 1 interception. “When it comes to turnovers, I go through my reads and make sure I throw the ball to somebody that’s open and try not to force anything into tight spots,” he said.
Weaver’s banner debut season with the varsity also featured 6 touchdown passes in a 52-0 win over East Ridge H.S., which tied a school record.
“That game started out really nice,” he said. “On the first drive, it was quick and we went down and scored. We were all really focused and we had a great week of practices. We were really crisp all the way around.”
It was a memorable season all the way around, and it also featured a head-to-head matchup against another NFA quarterback – Tanner Hearn. In a district showdown game, Oak Ridge beat East River 34-28 with Weaver and Hearn combining to pass for 608 yards and 6 TD.
The end of the season came way too soon for Weaver, who is still trying to shake off a 33-7 playoff loss to Fletcher High School. “Losses are always tough, especially when you want to win a state title,” Weaver said. “Seeing how we went out in that game, it really bugged me to see the seniors leave in a such a very bad fashion.”

NFA trained

The playoff setback is going to provide Weaver plenty of motivation for his junior season. “My goal for next year is to go undefeated and get farther in the playoffs than we did this year,” he said.
Weaver said he can play even better, and his training with NFA is going to help him back up that vow. He has been with NFA since fourth grade.
“They’ve helped me to learn different coverages, different gap escapes, getting away from pressure, they’ve helped with my mechanics and they taught me how to stay calm throughout the game,” Weaver said. “They’ve been a great help.”
A quarterback since he was 5 years old, Weaver isn’t going to let his standout sophomore season go to his head.
“Playing quarterback is a lot of fun,” he said. “I like how people look up to you, but even though it might seem like you’re the person that makes it happen, it really isn’t you. It’s about everybody around you, the receivers, the offensive line, the running backs, the coaches and everyone else around you.”

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Scot Gregor is an award-winning sportswriter for the Chicago Daily Herald. In addition to writing about Big 10 and Notre Dame football, Gregor has also covered the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and college basketball. He grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the Steelers rise to prominence in the 1970s. Gregor has a B.S. degree in Journalism from Ohio University