Jarius Kerlegan has always looked up to his older brother. This fall, he intends to one-up him.
The starting quarterback at LaMarque, the younger Kerlegan has one goal this fall: adding another state Class 4A, Division II title to the family's ever-expanding wall of trophies and awards. Doing so would give him one more than his brother Larry, who guided the Cougars to a 16-0 mark and a state title in 2003.
"I think we're going to be stronger this season," said the 6-0, 170-pounder. "There's nothing we can't handle."
Kerlegan's confidence is formed by his rise to the starting job last fall. Given the starting job when incumbent Durklyn Haynes was suspended from the team prior to the playoffs, Kerlegan looked like a seasoned veteran, running then-head coach Bryan Erwin's offense at peak efficiency, capping off his six-game sprint by throwing two touchdowns in LaMarque's 34-14 rout of Waco in the state title game on Dec. 23.
"It really matured me a lot," he said. "Most quarterbacks don't get a chance like that, and I was able to make the most of it."
His numbers (914 yards and nine touchdowns passing, 236 yards rushing and seven scores) have caught the eye of several colleges. Fresno State, UTEP, Louisiana Tech, Utah State and Tulsa have already inquired about Kerlegan's services.
"Everyone is even right now," he said. "I just want to go to a school where I can contribute and get a good education."
When it comes to finding the right school, he is also following the advice of his brother, who is a junior quarterback-receiver at Grambling.
"He's told me to be open to playing where I fit best," Kerlegan said. "He told that if I have to move to another position, go with it and find one where you can contribute."
For now, Kerlegan is getting comfortable with the offense installed by new head coach Chris Jones. He and his teammates have spent most of the summer building chemistry both in the weight room and on the practice field, where they have had several spirited games against Ball High in 7 on 7 play.
The time together has allowed them to work on communication and timing, two very important factors in the spread offense that Kerlegan expects to throw up to 75 percent of the time. His running skills have not been forgotten, either, as Jones plans to take advantage of a quarterback that averaged more than seven yards per carry.
"The difference between the offenses is that Coach Jones' has more reads. There is a lot of responsibility with this offense."
Kerlegan's development is helped by having his older brother serve as an unbiased critic. The two talk frequently during the season and spend a lot of time together when the elder Kerlegan is home from college.
"He's a big influence on me," Jarius Kerlegan said. "He's like having an extra coach. He'll give me constructed criticism and is quick to tell me what I've done wrong."