The Quarterback: Fort Dale’s Hunter Armstrong

Published 8:12 pm Tuesday, August 24, 2010

You don’t become the 6-3, 195-pound starting quarterback for one of four local high schools overnight. Hunter Armstrong got his start in the second grade, playing for the YMCA league. It wasn’t until fourth grade that coaches started calling on Armstrong to lead the huddle.

“I started playing quarterback in fourth grade,” Armstrong said. “Dustin Till would move up a league every year or so, and I was the one who would step in to replace him.”

Armstrong’s current jersey number, No. 8, was a result of his constantly nipping at Till’s heels.

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“Dustin was 10, which was my favorite number, but I got tired of switching numbers every year or so,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong continued up through youth leagues, going through Termite and Pee Wee, and then on to junior varsity and varsity.

Though he never really intended to become a quarterback, it became clear his junior year that Fort Dale thought they had found their man.

“They told me going into my eleventh grade year that I would get a lot of reps,” Armstrong said. “I didn’t really have a choice, I guess.”

A good move for both Armstrong and Fort Dale. Last season, Armstrong threw for over 1769 yards and added 300 rushing yards. He threw 18 touchdowns with only five interceptions.

Colleges have started taking notice. He attended a pair of quarterback camps during the offseason – the Bruce Arians (Pittsburgh offensive coordinator) Camp and the camp. Stephen Sorrells, who served as Fort Dale’s offensive playcaller last season before taking a job at Occidental College in Los Angeles in July, called Armstrong a “great leader.”

“In my opinion, he’s probably the best quarterback to come through Greenville since Jermaine Crenshaw,” said Sorrells, who played at Fort Dale but watched Crenshaw, a former GHS star who signed with Georgia Tech, tear up defenses as both a runner and passer in the late 1990s.

As he goes into his senior year, Armstrong is focused more on his mental role as a team leader.

“It’s all about being the bad guy when I have to and making sure everyone is doing what has got to be done to be successful,” Armstrong said.

It’s not easy, Armstrong said, but discipline is necessary.

“You sometimes have to get on to people,” Armstrong said. “But there is always a way to do it while still being tactful.”

Like many athletes, Armstrong has rituals before every game. He tries to always take a nap before playing. On away games, he always sits in the same seat on the bus. And when he walks on the field, it is always directly behind teammate Stephen Till. The music he listens to varies, depending on his mood, either rock ‘n roll or Lil’ Wayne.

However, this year Armstrong will have to find another way to fuel up before hitting the field since David’s Catfish, last year’s location for the team’s pre-game meal, is no longer in business.

“I guess I’ll be eating creamed potatoes and all the other things that won’t make you throw up at halftime,” Armstrong said.