Washington-Marion quarterback Quaje Boutte. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, October 03, 2013 11:10 AM
Head coach Freddie Harrison had a big task entering the season, finding someone to take over the quarterback position for the Washington-Marion Charging Indians.
For the previous two years, Harrison was able to deploy his own version of a two-headed monster. In rushing situations Melvin Jones, who doubles as a linebacker and fullback for LSU, would assume the position. If the Charging Indians needed to throw the ball they would field Marius Rideaux, who’s serving as the second-string quarterback at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.
With a big question mark at the quarterback position, Harrison and his staff received a blessing when defensive back Quajae Boutte made the transition to offense shortly before the season began.
“We had two other guys in mind to compete for the starting job in the offseason and Quajae was already a proven starter at defensive back,” Harrison said. “At first it didn’t seem like we were going to go in that direction, but last minute we as a staff decided to plug him and that has worked out well for us.”
Following in the footsteps of a pair of collegiate athletes has been no easy task for the junior, but it is one that he has taken head on.
“I knew it would be a big responsibility coming in and those are some really big shoes to fill, but I think I have done a great job so far,” Boutte said.
The Charging Indians have struggled to get into the win column, opening with a 1-3 record, but Harrison said fault cannot be laid with the offense, which Boutte has led by completing more than 50 percent of his passes for 823 yards and six touchdowns. Most of those passing yards have been to vertical threat Demond Delahoussaye, who has caught 21 passes for 566 yards and three touchdowns.
Last week Boutte had his best game of the year, completing 19 of 32 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns. His 344 yards were the sixth most thrown by any quarterback in a single game in Louisiana through the first four weeks of the season.
Harrison said Boutte brings the ability to sling the ball as well as Rideaux while remaining efficient in keeping plays alive with his feet. He may not lead W-M in rushing, but he rarely lets a play end without putting up a fight.
“He does a good job of keeping plays alive when protection is busted,” Harrison said. “He has that uncanny ability to keep the play alive even when there is nothing there. That is an intangible that you really can’t coach.”
Harrison attributes much of Boutte’s abilities as a passer to his willingness to learn the position and improve himself week in and week out.
“The good thing about Quajae is that he is very coachable and listens very well,” he said. “There isn’t anything that I have done to make him great, he just had a knack for the game of football. He is truly a student of the game; he wants to learn and wants to get better, and those are the types of kids that flourish.”
Possibly the biggest challenge for anyone taking over the role of starting quarterback is accepting the leadership role that comes with it, but Harrison said it is a transition that Boutte is making easily.
“The kids respect him as a leader, they have taken well to him,” he said. “He is not silent, he is going to voice his opinion. That is what you need at quarterback; you need someone who is vocal but can remain calm and collected. Quajae is a true field general.”
Boutte said he is still learning the ropes as the team’s leader, but it is a role he enjoys.
“I’m still friends with everyone, but I know that I have to take my job a lot more seriously than I did when I was on defense,” Boutte said. “Everyone respects me more than they used to, but we are all working together to win.”
Boutte and the Charging Indians lost their first district game last week in Rayne, but look to begin their quest for a District 4-4A championship Friday night at home against Eunice.
“We are capable of making some big plays, we just have to come together as a unit,” Boutte said. “We aren’t quite there as a unit yet, but once we are, we are going to roll.”