REL eyes bright future with QB only a sophomore

Robert E. Lee sophomore quarterback Zach Hall carries the ball against Lufkin on Sept. 6 at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler. (Sarah A. Miller | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Zach Hall will start his 10th game at quarterback for the Red Raiders on Friday against Rockwall-Heath.

The sophomore has already broken the school’s single-game passing record and accounted for more total yards (1,815) and touchdowns (18) than the previous two years combined. He’s led REL to its first district win in three years and has a chance — with a win over Heath on Friday — to give Lee its best regular season since 2009.

All of this despite beginning two-a-days as the third quarterback on the depth chart.

Hall started every game for Lee’s 7-on-7 team.

But he did it as a defensive back. Incoming junior Trevor Carr quarterbacked the Red Raiders back to the state tournament.

“I just wanted to do whatever I could to help the team out,” Hall said about not playing quarterback this summer. “Wherever coach (Randy Womble) put me at, I knew he was doing the best for me to get me to that next level (and be ready for varsity).

“I was just listening to him. He told me he needed help at defensive back, so I just went out there and did my job.”

Lee coach Darrell Piske admits Hall was someone the staff was looking at to be starting quarterback, but he was a little overwhelmed during spring practices.

“The problem coming out of spring was we threw so much at Zach and he was trying to do too much to impress us that he didn’t look like the starting quarterback,” Piske said. “We all felt like he had the tools to lead us.”

Piske opened up the competition between Hall, Carr and incoming senior and 2012 starter Raleigh Poster.

In the scrimmage at Marshall, they all had their chance to shine. Hall lit up Maverick Stadium.

On his first snap, Hall broke loose for an 11-yard gain. Then on second-and-10 from the Marshall 49, Hall faked a jet sweep and took it himself and raced up the middle away from everyone for a 49-yard touchdown. He added a 70-yard touchdown pass later in the scrimmage.

Piske did not leave any doubt about who had won the job in his postgame comments.

“I thought Zach separated himself a little bit tonight,” Piske said.

His first varsity game was on the road for REL’s season opener at Sulphur Springs. Unlike against Marshall, Hall went nowhere on his first carry, losing 5 yards before the Red Raiders were forced to punt after a three-and-out. Hall gained 5 yards on his second carry, but again Lee had to punt.

Two drives and two punts. Not exactly what Hall had envisioned, but things were about to change and rapidly.

With the game still scoreless and REL getting possession a third time, Hall completed a 28-yard pass to Marquiston Williams. On the next play, Hall took a keeper 31 yards for a touchdown.

“My quarterback coach always tells me that I am supposed to be the calmest person on the field, so when things aren’t going right you are supposed to pick the team up,” Hall said. “When I was able to (break away) on that cut (up the middle), it felt great scoring my first varsity touchdown.”

Hall finished that game, a 55-20 win, with 288 yards passing and four touchdowns and 124 yards rushing and two scores.

The sophomore has endured since that game to post 1,111 yards passing and 10 touchdowns while also rushing for 704  yards and eight scores. Most of the rushing yards came during non-district play as Hall has been limited in district.

“He got a thigh bruise early in district and he really has not looked like himself, but he’s getting back to it,” Piske said. “He’s pretty good on one leg, but he’s not near as good as when he’s healthy and can do the things he did early in the year. That is what he’s getting back to.

“He’s conscientious enough to want to get better and that’s what we are working on. He understands you don’t want to be satisfied with being just a good athlete, you want to be the best, so it will take a lot of work for him to get bigger, faster and stronger (and he’s ready to do it).”

But before all of that, Hall wants to take care of business Friday against Rockwall-Heath.

“We have to send those seniors out right with a ‘W,’” Hall said. “They’ve worked their tails off the last four years and we need to send them off right.”


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