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Jenkins ready to take over under center at LaBrae

August 23, 2013
By JOHN VARGO - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

LEAVITTSBURG - Justin Jenkins was ready to return to the LaBrae Vikings as the team's leading rusher.

Peyton Aldridge was the mainstay at quarterback. The lanky 6-foot-7 signal caller is being recruited by a number of colleges, wanting his services for basketball. Aldridge, a two-time first-team, All-Ohio selection, is one of the most decorated basketball players in this area.

Heading into his senior year, Aldridge didn't come out for football to hone his basketball skills.

Article Photos

Justin Jenkins

Enter Jenkins.

"It gives me a lot of time to perfect what I'm going to do," Jenkins said. "I have a lot of time to do all the new stuff we're doing this year. By the time I get to my senior year, I'll be even better.

"They started to hand me the ball more. I started to get more yards and that's what I thought I was going to do. This year, Peyton didn't come. I just have to use that as being the quarterback."

First-year LaBrae coach John Armeni said Jenkins will fit well into the Vikings' new offense.

"In our offensive scheme, which is a zone-read, it's tailored to his strengths," Armeni said. "He's probably our best all-around athlete. We plan on moving him around, sprint out pass, giving him the option to read certain defenders, to keep the ball in his hands as much as possible.

"I think he'll have a lot of success in the offensive scheme that we have that's tailored around him."

Jenkins' propensity to run the ball gives him an extra edge in the pocket.

"I like to run the ball," he said. "If they're going to give me pocket passing, I'll take it. If they'll give me the open, I'll run. I'll take it."

Armeni said Jenkins attitude is what will help him this season.

"He's a natural leader and the kids gravitate toward him," Armeni said. "It's a relationship that's developed pretty quickly. Those guys trust him to make the right decision. The entire team, not just the receivers, seem to rally around him with him taking over that spot at quarterback."

Jenkins played quarterback in junior high before leaving for his running back slot in high school.

"I missed it a little bit," he said. "I was the backup last year. Got all the reps at backup, but it feels good to have the starting job."

Armeni has faith in his new quarterback.

"We want him to make the best decisions possible," he said. "With the reps that we go through, we want him to make the best decision. We think in the offense that we have, we have a lot of offensive weapons. It's a matter of getting the ball in the right circumstances. That's what his job is, to spread the ball around efficiently and read the defense. That's what we look for and that's where his success will be measured."

Jenkins' talents will be on full display Aug. 29 at Jefferson High School.

"Looking forward to Jefferson first Friday night. It'll be interesting," Jenkins said. "Try to keep thinking positive that I'll do all right. My team's surrounding me. My line's pretty good. I think I'll be pretty confident with it."