It’s been quite a football season in Seattle. The Seahawks have energized the city and are preparing to play Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. And a pair of rising young quarterbacks – Ayden Ziomas and Joey Echigoshima – recently wrapped up stellar seasons of their own that culminated with selections to the Team Seattle All-Stars in the FBU National Championships.
The seventh graders were teammates for Team Seattle, and both are veteran NFA campers.
Ziomas had a monster season for the Lynwood (Wash.) Royals in the Senior Division (12-13 year olds), passing for 1,574 yards and 24 touchdowns in nine games while leading his team to the second round of the playoffs. “I was really happy with the season,” said Ziomas, who is never likely to forget one game when he connected on 19 of 20 passes for 320 yards. “I feel like I had a good overall year.”
Ziomas has worked extensively with JC Boice, a Senior Certified Quarterback Instructor and Lead Camp Coach as well as NFA’s Director of Business Development and Strategic Alliances. “I consider Ayden one of the top up-and-coming quarterback prospects in the Pacific Northwest,” Boice said. “He has great natural instincts for the game and as a QB. His poise in the pocket is way beyond his years and he has a good release and strong arm. He also has his head on straight and is not afraid to be a blue-collar quarterback that will grind it out to get better. He is a future star, no doubt about it.”
Taking advantage of Ziomas’ skills at quarterback, the Royals ran a spread offense this past season. “I like it because there are so many different passing options,” Ziomas said. “There are a lot of different route combinations you can run out of the spread and I tried to take advantage of that.”
Playing for the Junior Wolverines J.V. Gold team this past season, which feeds into the Bellevue (Wash.) High School program, Echigoshima led his team to a 9-1 record and berth in the league championship game. “We play a Wing-T offense, so I try to be a dual threat type of quarterback,” said Echigoshima, who passed for 14 touchdowns and ran for 10 more. “As the season went on, I think I got a lot better at throwing on the run.”
Boice raved about the athletic Echigoshima, who also excels in baseball and basketball. “Joey is just a very explosive athlete,” Boice said. “I see him more as a quarterback, but I know he has played both QB and receiver. He has a very strong arm and is a fierce competitor that just loves the game. My biggest worry is that we will lose him to another sport as he is just as accomplished as a baseball player and basketball player. If Joey decides to commit himself to football – and in particular being a quarterback – he will be another powerhouse QB from the Pacific Northwest. He has the skills and the work ethic.”
Echigoshima might be dropping basketball, but he’ll stick with baseball and continue to regard football as his No. 1 sport. “Football and baseball are kind of my two big sports because I travel around out of state with both of them,” he said. Ziomas is getting ready to start playing Arena football, and he’ll continue training for next season in the spring and summer.
Ziomas and Echigoshima were skilled enough to be members of the Team Seattle All-Stars, and they both stepped up and performed against some of the top competition in the United States and Canada. “It was a really good experience,” Ziomas said. “The competition we had to play against was just amazing and the whole team I played on was amazing. It definitely helped me out a lot. Playing against really good competition like that made me a better player.”
Said Echigoshima: “It was a really good experience. I got to play with really good players and we were able to bond, go out of state and go to hotels. I think that was the best part of it. And playing the games was great. It was so much fun to see all of the good teams from all over the nation.”
With so much talent on hand, both players had to split time at quarterback, while Echigoshima was also a starting wide receiver. Team Seattle beat Oregon and British Columbia in Washington, and then traveled to Sacramento and beat all-star teams from Utah and Orange County (Calif.). Moving on the Final Four in the nation, Team Seattle journeyed to San Antonio and lost to teams from Iowa and Indiana.
“I thought it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had playing football,” Echigoshima said. “I learned a lot and had a lot of fun playing against so many good teams.”