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Freedom Falcons football is gearing up for a new era at the quarterback position.
After Jake Byrne, who threw for 2,260 yards and 18 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions last year, graduated, that left a hole open to guide the offense.
Insert Les Callen, a junior who already boasts some experience at the varsity level.
“Just having that year under his belt and developing a year of maturity, physically, emotionally, mentally as a quarterback,” said Freedom head coach Andrew Cotter. “And he’s got a great arm, throws a great deep ball. We want him to be as accurate as possible on some of the short passes, make great decisions. And that all helps having that year under his belt.”
That extra year already being a varsity quarterback is immense, and it’s something Cotter can’t emphasize enough regarding how important it is.
The Falcons brought in a new offensive system in 2019, and while the results paid off for Byrne with an impressive touchdown-to-interception ratio of 4.5-to-1, he was thrust right into the action and did not have that extra time – and season – to practice and learn under it.
Callen has that second year, making the Falcons especially eager to see it all play out when the season does roll around in January.
“It’s different,” Cotter said. “The offense I ran was just super simple. Spread it out, throw it all around, let’s go as fast as we can. That whole thing. It was effective, but I knew that we needed something more. And then he was able to come in and bring that, but it is different and it took our kids a while to truly start to understand it, but when they did you could tell. We were successful and we were excited to have that year under our belt and get ready for this year and come out with our group this year.”
And Callen has an extra few months to continue honing in on the concepts and is making the most of every opportunity with the regular season being pushed back to January.
With strong showings over the course of the offseason, including at the National Preps Collegiate Showcase in Fresno and the Xclusive Speed Bay Area Top 100 Showcase, Callen – who threw nine passes as a sophomore when Freedom compiled a 3-2 mark in the Bay Valley Athletic League, he is only growing by the day in every facet of the game.
“Trying to get better with the team,” Callen said. “It’s a team sport. Just try to get better with the guys, get better every day, bringing my guys out, going to ball. A mistake is a mistake. You build off of that.”
Now Callen has his ambitions set as high as possible for his first full season as the Falcons’ starting quarterback, and Cotter knows just what the future holds for this latest installment of Freedom football.
“To be honest, I set my goals high, so to go undefeated,” Callen said. “I feel like that’s a bar you have to set because if you set it low, you always want to aim for the highest.”
“It’ll be exciting to watch him kind of take the reins of this offense and be able to continue developing, and then being a junior the future is definitely very bright for him,” Cotter said.
You go Les Callen. Great things are in your future.
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